Baby Clothes with Guitars and Gender Roles

Baby Clothes with Guitars and Gender Roles


Nathan in his GNR onesie

Nathan in his GNR onesie

I love shopping for clothes for Nathan. And I especially love buying (or receiving) cute little boy attire emblazoned with band logos, images of rock icons, and big electric guitars. The latter, especially.

But if I hadn’t had a boy, I wouldn’t have had so many choices in attire, and chances are, many of those onesies that say “I wanna rock” would say “I wanna garden” instead.

During a trip to Carter’s in my eighth month of pregnancy, I spent several minutes on both the girls’ side and the boys’ side of the store. The sex of my baby would be a surprise, but I wanted to see what kinds of cute little outfits awaited my forthcoming arrival.

Since I teach guitar and play in a band, I was immediately drawn to the huge array of shirts on the boy side of the store with guitars on them — some with little guitars, others with big guitar prints on them. But I was a bit troubled when I went to the girls’ side of the store, and, much to my dismay, could only find one little guitar-decorated shirt. And it said, “My daddy rocks!”

I asked the sales clerk about this. Surely, there were other options besides the zillions of pink, polka-dotted floral-print dresses and PJs for my hypothetical daughter!  Daddy does rock, but, in this case, mommy does rock, too, and can even play a GNR solo — so where is the onesie for that reality?

Sadly, I was told, there weren’t any such onesies or baby tees.

Well, this made me a bit miffed. Yes, I intended to dress a girl in pink (though I realized this was adhering to the same gender stereotypes some of my college feminist friends eschewed). Yes, I intended to put her in little bows. But why, oh why, are a options for baby girl clothes limited to the likes of pink-and-yellow-dot dresses and daisy-imprinted tees? Being a boy looked SO much cooler at Carter’s — everything that didn’t have a guitar printed on it had a monster truck or a dinosaur on it!

Apparently, the market for girl clothes with dinosaurs, monster trucks, and guitars on them didn’t exist. If it did, then Carter’s, one of the biggest infant-to-children clothing chains in the country, would be selling them.

So I guess baby clothes are where it all starts. Next, there are little girl baby dolls, so a girl can practice being a mommy when she’s only two, and then there are little girl kitchens, so she can practice being a homemaker. I’ve never seen a little boy kitchen — one that is tailored to the color palate and gender assumptions that go along with boyhood (baby blue everything, cool-looking gadgets, and neutral, faux-granite countertops).

Then again, I can’t deny I am a byproduct, to a certain degree, of gender conditioning. Though I would never buy my little girl a play kitchen, I don’t have any plans to buy my little boy a play kitchen, either. Or paint his nails pink, a la Jenna Lyons of J Crew.

But until people take a stand and start asking for boy-tailored baby kitchens or boy shirts with flowers and girl onesies with guitars — Carter’s and its competitors won’t change either. It’s all about what the majority of consumers (you and me) want.

  • Boi Toy
    Posted at 17:04h, 25 March Reply

    regardless of gender, babies bodies’ cant be much different (unlike adult bodies, where clothing cuts really matter) – so, why not just dress little girls in the rad “boys” clothing? that’s how gender stereotypes are broken – by taking what is labeled as for a specific gender and co-opting it. i dress my female chihuahua in masculine/unisex clothing – people always tell me how cute “he” is. so, parents gotta be ready for that reaction if they dress their little girls in the boys’ clothes though! people will assume the little girl is a boy – until you tell them that little girls rawk, too. good luck with your little rockstar!

  • Jenna Sparks
    Posted at 17:11h, 25 March Reply

    as I get older, I struggle with this gender role/feminism concept. I would want my kid to feel fabulous in anything they wore, regardless of ruffle, color or size. My inherent issue is that concept that the only way a woman should feel beautiful (confident, attractive, herself) is if she is wearing high heeled shoes, a dress, and in pink. That fallacy is rampant in our society. I have friends who have an almost 5 year old and a 2 year old. I go to their house to babysit sometimes. Watching the BLATANT gender stereotyping in cartoons was not only an eye opener, but a small punch to the gut. i had no idea it started so young.

    Marisa, I don’t worry about you teaching your child that ability and desire will supersede gender programming. I worry that your kid is going to rock my socks off and I’ll have to welcome him as my new Music Overlord.

  • Steph
    Posted at 09:01h, 01 October Reply

    Thank you forr sharing this

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