The inspirational slogans on girls' clothes are vastly different to those on boys' clothes 5 months ago

The inspirational slogans on girls' clothes are vastly different to those on boys' clothes

It goes beyond blue-or-pink...

Olympic medalist Simone Biles has launched an athleisure line for young girls, which she hopes will promote self-belief in its wearers.

The line, created in collaboration with the brand Athleta for girls aged between six and twelve, features hoodies, vests, T-shirts, leggings and cycle shorts – some of which have words of inspiration printed on them.

Slogans featured in the line are quite different from those we normally see on clothing for little girls, promoting confidence, ambition and self-determination. Phrases such as "You can do it", "The floor is yours", "Because I can" and "No dream is too big or too small" appear on various items of the collaboration in what Simone calls a series of "love notes" from herself.

 

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"I hope girls feel inspired when they wear the collection. I hope they know they can do anything they put their minds to," the gymnast says.

Unfortunately, the line is a rarity when it comes to childrenswear, as slogans like the ones above are usually reserved for boys' clothing.

Walk through any kids' section in a clothes shop and you'll see what we mean. Girls' clothes are, for the most part, embellished with phrases that promote gratitude, joy, positivity, kindness and endless smiling, while boys' clothes instead boast words about self-confidence, ambition, success, adventure-seeking, leadership and rebellion.

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It might not sound like a big deal at first – they're just words, and clothes are just clothes. But when you see side-by-side comparisons, the difference is stark and highlights the roles boys and girls are assigned at a very early age.

Little girls' clothing overwhelmingly tells them to show passivity, humility and positivity. Clothing for young boys instead assures them they're born great and can do or go after anything they want.

Girls are sent the message that they should consider others, while boys are given the message that they don't need to think of anyone but themselves.

The difference in gendered clothing for kids has been highlighted by shoppers from various countries through the years, showing that it's not limited to one brand or store. Take a look and see for yourself:

Cirque Du Soleil merchandise (reportedly)

 

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Penneys/Primark (UK)

Target

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SHEIN

Morrisons

Unknown

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So are words really just words when it comes to kids clothing? Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland and author of 'Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America', Jo B. Paoletti, doesn't think so.

The difference in slogans on gendered clothing "encourages very young children — as young as 2 — to judge and interact with others in highly stereotyped ways," she tells the Chicago Tribune.

"We know, based on nearly 50 years of social science research, that stereotyped thinking hurts all of us, whether we are dealing with racial, gender, or any other form of stereotype."

Experts say the differences in clothes for young boys and girls go far beyond slogans, colours and other decorative elements – going right down to the very way they're designed and cut. This tends to be more accommodating and practical for boys, and more revealing or for aesthetic purposes when it comes to girls.

"Especially in the toddler years, the boys have more pockets, they have more fun, active clothes than the girls," Assistant Professor of Fashion at Parsons School of Design and childrenswear designer Francesca Sammaritano tells the New York Times. "There’s leg room for bending your knees."

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When it comes to young children, this has nothing to with build. "The body is the same, size-wise. You’re growing and developing in the same way until you reach six years, more or less," Sammaritano says, adding that designers generally use the same dress forms for boys and girls up until that age.

All in all, there's nothing wrong with some clothing being more about a 'look' than function. Nor is there anything wrong with slogans promoting kindness and positivity, or ambition and self-belief.

But if we're going to still design, sell and buy gendered clothing marketed as "for boys" and "for girls", they should at least be equal in functionality and the messages that they promote. Shouldn't kids of all genders have the option to throw on clothes that allow them full movement to play, or to get all dolled up just for the sake of looking nice? Shouldn't we teach all kids that they can achieve whatever they want, that they can be leaders, but that they should stay humble and consider others no matter where they end up in life?