“Every child deserves the same opportunities in life, but unless we stop treating girls and boys differently that simply isn’t going to happen.” Dr Javid Abelmoneim, BBC 2 “No More Girls and Boys
Let Clothes Be Clothes is a group of parents who have come together to ask retailers in the UK to rethink how they design and market children’s clothing.
Many retailers such as Next, George at Asda, Debenhams and Marks & Spencer agreed to BRC (British Retail Consortium) guidelines on childrenswear that states a commitment to not “unduly stereotype children” and yet our high street is saturated with messages about gender that are not only limiting, but potentially harmful too.
Market segmentation is a proven way of driving up profits, and in this case, retailers use gender (our ideas about men and women in society) to split children into two well defined groups in which to target – girls and boys.
Up until puberty, boys and girls are very much the same shape and size, with 10 out of 11 retailers surveyed using identical measurements for girls and boys. Science tells us there is very little difference between girls and boys, and you would need to survey a huge amount of people in order to find that difference. We like to think of this in terms of #morealikethandifferent
When retailers pitch clothing as either for boys or for girls, they use a very specific visual language, colours and themes to do this – and this is where the problems start.
Gender stereotypes are over-generalizations about the characteristics of an entire group based on gender.
Gendered marketing has been developing steadily over the past 20 years to create the retail landscape we know today, but its not something many of us are conscious of. Many of these ideas about gender have been around for a long time, and you may not find yourself asking why all the baby girls clothes are pink, or all the animals on boys t-shirts are aggressive.
Our high street has reached a saturation point, and more and more parents are noticing the restrictions and harmful messages gendered clothing, toys, stationary, cards and toiletries creates.
Taking some of the worst stereotypes about gender, and aiming them at children is only going to perpetuate problems in our society, from low self-esteem amongst girls to boys who are unable to express how they feel.
We want a high street that is responsible in how it designs and markets for our children. That means no more treating girls and boys as though they don’t have the same needs and interests. Provide a choice of styles and themes, and make that choice as wide as possible.
For more information please see FAQ or use the following contact form: