My youngest niece is hugely into climbing. Whether it’s a tree, a wall or a building, anything she can climb – she’ll have a go! It therefore makes sense to her mother that her choice in casual clothes reflects her love of the outdoors. Always to be found in joggers, shirts and trainers galore, she has developed her own sense of style.
Yet, for her to buy such clothes as this, to dress the way she wants, my niece has no other choice than to shop in the boy’s section of a department store. The reason why – because an overwhelming proportion of stores, and indeed designers, believe that all girls want pink and sparkly clothes, whilst the boys will make do with drab, plain non-descript clothes!
It’s through shopping with my niece, and a couple of other girlfriends who have admitted having to plough through the men’s section for their clothes, that I have had my eyes opened to this huge generalisation that some areas of the fashion industry force upon us all.
School Uniform Manufacturers Are Often the Worst Culprits
My niece also has a similar problem when it comes to school shoes, and this must be one of the more concerning areas of stereotyping that I have yet to witness. Taking me on a recent trip for the new school year, my niece showed me where she gets her shoes from. Purchasing a basic, non-descript pair of black shoes, I asked her why she felt she had no choice other than to head to the boy’s shoe section as her first port of call. She then took me into the girl’s school section, and for a moment I felt as though we had just stepped back a decade or two.
The girls school shoe sections include predominately T-Bar shoes. Now, if you’ve never had to experience these shoes, let’s just say, you won’t be able to run, or get far in them without them slipping off. However, that wasn’t what caught my eye – rather the glitter and sparkles once again had seemingly made its way to the school shoe collections. With a dash of sparkle on most shoes, it’s no wonder my niece bypassed this section – even I was feeling queasy with all the in your face shimmer and glamour!
Unfortunately, this stereotyping continues to extend to the school uniform itself, with girl’s school trousers containing dangly charms from the belt hooks, and shirts with slight frills in the neck designs. When will the fashion industry, and stores themselves, stand up and eliminate this downright outdated and disgusting assumption that all girls want pink and glitter in their clothes and shoes, whilst boys apparently want simplicity and no colour?