GUEST POST: How can clothing reduce gender boundaries for kids?

clothing reduce gender boundaries for kids

In the modern era, it’s hard to fit in with society, with all the wariness of not offending someone. Kids have it even worse, though. They don’t even have a fully develop self, and yet – they are already being targeted by gender misdemeanors. Not only is it difficult for the parent to deal with that unwanted issue, but imagine the hardship your children have to go through, especially if they are being called out for not being a boy or girl enough. And then – there’s the issue of the gender kids are growing into, trying to grasp who they really are and what feels comfortable. Isn’t all this confusing and hard enough for kids to have yet another problem to think about?

In all that jam, we’ve got the parent. The person who is supposedly so powerful they’ll know how to solve any ongoing matter, regardless of how complex it may be. Can we really? Let’s hope we can.

Does clothing colour matter?

Most people would agree that fashion – well, not fashion per se but the choice of clothing and your everyday what-should-I-wear choices are crucial, especially to those who are easily targeted. So much ado about nothing, really. Who is to say my son can’t wear pink if he wants to? As long as the clothes feel comfortable and the kids love the way they look in what they wear, let them be. Instead of bickering which colour is manlier, adults should set an example: men can wear pink, and it’s alright.

Sending a powerful message to everyone

Children are clever and they’ll figure out if people around them like something or not. They’ll see through fake likes and dislikes, and they’ll follow their instincts. Kids are amazing, they always have ways of figuring out things the right way. What this means is that it’s best to teach kids to be themselves rather than to follow obscure social norms. Clothes are just fabric anyways, so why should they care if it labels them or not? Of course, we won’t see boys going around in skirts (unless they are Kanye or Scottish, right?), but – they will understand that some people’s likings differ to their own. And, they’ll understand that’s okay. Fortunately, kids are easy to convince, adults are going to be a lot more difficult.

Boys and girls should play together

Kids should be encouraged from an early age to spend time with the opposite gender; it’s going to make them understand the subtle differences, and help them develop into mentally strong, gender sensitive human beings. Avoid pooling boys with boys only, and give them a chance to mingle. In the worst case scenario, your kid might learn how to paint their nails or to properly fix a car. And? No, it’s not the end of the world. It’s actually pretty great.

Destroying social constructs

As a parent, your job is to protect your kid and to give them life lessons worth remembering, and of course, to teach them that everybody is precious, regardless of the labels induced. However, sometimes in life, it’s necessary to adhere to social norms because they are part of tradition and culture, and most importantly, part of who we all are. They are the structure we are all brought up in and therefore should be acknowledged. I believe that little girls at weddings should feel like princesses, to make them realize how special they are. Junior bridesmaid dresses are an excellent choice for girls, while boys look absolutely stunning in their small tuxes. It’s a gender game, and a very healthy one.

One step at a time

It’s impossible to stop gender policing altogether at once, which is why it’s necessary to take baby steps to fight back. Some major shops are already doing it, they’re providing gender neutral clothes. Your kid can be a fierce pirate or the cutest ballerina ever – it really doesn’t matter as long as they are happy.

At the very least, we have a duty to teach our kids not to be bigots and to accept their peers as they are. Clothing doesn’t make a man, and it shouldn’t. There will be events in life where a dress code is mandatory, but – their purpose is to keep tradition alive, not to patronize anyone’s beliefs. Ultimately, kids should be kids, and they should feel comfortable in whatever they are wearing! Let’s all avoid having them rack their innocent brains with such banalities as whether they will be considered too girly or boyish – and just encourage them to enjoy life.

Zara Lewis (Twitter: @ZaraELewis) is a mum, designer and a regular contributor to , devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of life of her family and friends. She seeks for beauty in everything that surrounds her. Will start a blog
about it one day. Until then writes her diary occasionally. Romantic soul and tech geek in one body. She enjoys hiking, cycling, yoga and cooking.


  1. I struggle with what I think about this. And I enjoy fashion so do think about it fairly often. On the one hand, I wear pinks and skirts (but also blues and jeans) whereas my husband wears darker clothes in men’s styles only. I like dancing and he likes gaming and military history. We have bought some dresses and girly clothes for our soon to be born daughter.


    After my maternity leave, my daughter’s father will be the one staying home with her. He’s the more nurturing one. I’ll be the one going back to work. I’m the one who loves cars and is more mechanical. My husband is the better cook. We’re not exactly proponents of traditional gender roles.

    So my girl might be given a dress to wear, but it might be daddy that puts it on her while mummy is outside fixing the car (in jeans!). And the moment she expresses an opinion, we’ll listen. (Within reason; I probably won’t encourage wearing a Batman costume to a wedding or a t shirt in the snow!) If she’s girly, that’s great. If she only wants trousers, that’s fine too. I think letting her come to her own decisions is important, rather than our trying to impose any one aesthetic on her, whether it be super feminine or gender neutral.

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