Gender Stereotypes on Children’s Clothing



8-year-old Daisy takes on the clothing industry when she notices a disparity between the mottoes on the “Girls” and “Boys” t-shirts. “It’s unfair because everyone thinks that girls should just be pretty and boys should just be adventurous,” she says. She rants on some very good points for a few minutes, before taking action and relocating some of the “Boys” t-shirts into the “Girls” section.

Lady Woolthief’s Take:

Kudos to the woman behind the camera for raising and encouraging this entirely impressive young lady! Too many children have not been taught to question this subtle form of sexism, and the fingerprints of it can be seen throughout their lives.

But… but… but…

“Girls love pink and sparkles! That’s a FACT!”

“What’s the big deal? She can just buy the boy’s shirt and be done with it.”

“My daughter likes those kinds of shirts! Are you insinuating that she’s stupid?”

*Lady Woolthief dramatically groans.*

There is nothing wrong with your daughter if she likes those shirts. As a matter of fact, there is nothing wrong with your son if he likes those shirts. The issue is that the shirts are gendered at all, and the message that sends to young girls and boys. Children’s t-shirts do not need to be sorted by size (as even the “why don’t they just purchase the boy’s shirt?” crowd admits), so they are only divided by the t-shirt’s message, which is far too often, “Girls like nail-polish! Boys like adventure!” People are blind if they can’t see the affect that can have on a child’s self-esteem.

Here are two stories (of hundreds) Lady Woolthief can vividly recall where a girl held herself back because she didn’t believe she was as capable as the boys:

  • Lady Woolthief once observed children (not in a creepy way) playing a game of tag-football in the park. The group was entirely made up of boys ages 6-10, with the exception of one girl on the edge of the field who was aching to get in on the action. She repeatedly took a few fidgety steps onto the field, reconsidered, and stepped back. Lady Woolthief approached her as authoritatively as a non-parental adult could and asked her if she wanted to play. The girl made up all manner of excuses about why she couldn’t go out there: she wasn’t good enough, they wouldn’t pass to her, she wasn’t sure of the rules (6-year-olds were running the game – there were no rules). To make matters worse, the girl’s father yelled at her that she was fine and to leave her brother alone. Lady Woolthief wanted to pop that man on the head with her sword cane.
  • Lady Woolthief’s very dear friend attended film school and often says she wishes she could do it again as a feminist. Straight out of high school, this friend was not accustomed to doing hard labor. She and her sisters had handled the “female chores” (i.e. laundry, vacuuming, dishes). Her brother had mowed the lawn, snow-shoveled the driveway, and changed the light bulbs. As a result, she almost always left the more technical set positions to her male classmates while she took on roles that didn’t require heavy-lifting. The film industry sadly suffers from a severe lack of diversity behind the scenes – not just in directors, writers, and editors, but in camera-operators, light electricians, and audio technicians. This friend’s education also suffered: her camera-work wasn’t as steady, her lighting wasn’t as bright, and her audio wasn’t as clear. She had to work hard after college to repair those deficiencies.

It may seem silly, but screwing in a few light-bulbs and pushing a lawn-mower can help girls realize they are capable of taking on those hands-on positions. Positive messaging on t-shirts can have an impact too.


Here’s an actual fact: Studies show a disproportionate amount of females lose interest in STEM subjects during middle school than their male counterparts. This episode of Girl Meets World handles the hows and whys of that sad reality. Lady Woolthief highly recommends looking it up. (Google: Girls Meets STEM, Disney Channel)

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