Dear H&M and other producers of kids’ clothes & accessories,
While realizing that it’s difficult for some to grasp the idea of kids growing up these days taking in a different mix of typical male/female capabilities and role patterns, and where typical role models are changing, I would encourage you to break some established truths and silos moving forward. Here’s an eyeopener; a fair share of little boys also love Elsa, Frozen and Hello Kitty. And many girls wants to be Superman or a dinosaur.
Unfortunately, if a 2-3 year old boy wants new nickers with Elsa on them, he can’t have it. Or – he would have to wear the girls’ model, not really fitting too well, and get comments from the team leader in kindergarden that he can’t wear those – as they’re made for girls.
The little boy would then return home, sharing this sad surprise and some frustration with his parents, and concluding; “But it’s unfair! I need the Elsa nickers! They’re so cool!”. And the parents will tell him that of course he can choose this all by himself, girls and boys can make the same choices if they want to, and no-one should limit their choices based on their gender.
And a little girl will from time to time not want to wear pink and purple, but rather be superman! Or maybe she want to wear pink AND be Superman…
So this had me thinking; Where are the Superman princess dresses? The Hello Kitty boys’ briefs? The glittery shoes with Batman on them? The pink raincoat with Thomas the Train? And the Elsa gear for boys who actually prefer the female hero over the Olaf and Sven characters?
The kids’ stuff bending and expanding our narrow views on what’s for boys and what’s for girls. In a world changing rapidly, we should help expanding our kids’ perspectives and capabilities. We shouldn’t limit our kids by putting them into a box solely based on their gender. Why would we put them in a box, when they will grow up in a world in need of outside-the-box-thinkers?
Even before the age of 1, we limit little boys to a quite boring selection of colours and designs. We tell them they can’t wear this and that, “just because everyone else…”. For grown up women however, the fashion industry has actually realized that stereotypes are changing. Which means that we get our boyfriend jeans, our Superman tights (with glitter on them..), and access to a great range to choose from. And grown men – exposed to a more limited range of items/designs – can enjoy a much broader range of colours and styles than some years ago. Even pink!
I don’t want to tell my son that he can’t wear his favorite colors or clothes because it’s “wrong” in the eyes of grown-ups. Damn it, I actually want him to have every opportunity to make his own choices that are not limited or restrained by some stupid gender bias. Just as I ‘ll hope that he grows up to be a person who doesn’t limit or restrain others based on their gender or background. I’d want him to feel free to fill his world with all the bright colors of the world. Like in Brazil, where colors belong to all, and not to one gender.
As our world changes rapidly, so must our attitudes and mindsets. Its a matter of choice and equal opportunities – and it should go both ways.
So – you manufacturers out there; Let me know when your new collection is in the store – I’ll be the first in line…
PS: And while I’m at it, it would of course be even better if you also make sure not to produce stuff for kids that’s made by kids. You could actually even brand your outside-the-box collection of Princess Superman & Elsa/Hello Kitty boys’ collection items with a special symbol “Empowering future superheroes”, and donate a part of the sales price to education for your workers’ children.