SPACE GIRLS OUT?

IT WOULD BE A BLAST TO SEE GEN­DER EQUAL­ITY IN KIDS’ CLOTHES

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | BIG READ - WORDS: KIM­BER­LEY ALLSOPP

We all want our chil­dren to be what­ever they want when they grow up. No pro­fes­sion or an­i­mal is out of bounds.

Want to be a chef ? You’ll hand them an apron, spoon and in­gre­di­ents for a cake (which have a higher chance of coat­ing your walls than end­ing up in the bowl).

Love the wa­ter? You’ll take them to swim lessons, sip­ping cof­fee by the pool.

For chil­dren to have these dreams, they need to see that any­thing is pos­si­ble. They won’t know they want to be an ape un­til you’ve ex­hausted that fam­ily zoo pass or watched Mada­gas­car so many times that you’ve con­sid­ered throw­ing your tele­vi­sion out.

Part of how these goals will be­come clear to them – con­sciously or through os­mo­sis – is through what prod­ucts are mar­keted to them be­cause un­less you’re go­ing to de­camp to a cave in the hills you can’t avoid ad­ver­tis­ing.

You also can’t avoid hav­ing your own set of hopes for your lit­tle one. My part­ner and I are big on space. He did an in­tern­ship at the Parkes dish and I have moved a gi­ant tele­scope from ren­tal to ren­tal (don’t ask me

how of­ten it’s been taken out of the box). Our daugh­ter doesn’t re­alise it (she’s 11 months) but she’s be­ing gen­tly nudged to reach for the stars. When I saw that there was a NASA kids’ range in Kmart, I went in armed to buy.

Af­ter fos­sick­ing for 10 min­utes and pick­ing up three other items I hadn’t in­tended on buy­ing, I still couldn’t see the NASA hoodie that I had seen listed on­line. In­stead of giv­ing up when it didn’t ap­pear to be in the cos­mos of the girls’ sec­tion, I went to the boys’ sec­tion where it was dis­played with three other kinds of NASA branded shirts.

Do only boys have those green glow­ing stars stuck to their bed­room ceil­ings?

I’ve been get­ting cranky about these un­nec­es­sary gen­der dif­fer­ences in chil­dren’s clothes since I started fre­quent­ing the baby sec­tions in stores.

I didn’t no­tice the bias when I was buy­ing gifts for my nephew be­cause he loves di­nosaurs and the di­nosaurs are al­ways in the boys’ sec­tion but I have been smacked in the face with the range dis­par­ity ev­ery time and let’s face it, it’s a lot of times.

I go shop­ping for my daugh­ter. Be­cause she’s a girl am I to pre­sume that she has no in­ter­est in di­nosaurs? An­i­mals that aren’t bun­nies or kit­tens? Role models that aren’t princesses? I guess she can rule out arche­ol­o­gist, vet (un­less she spe­cialises in cats and rab­bits), su­per­hero and now as­tro­naut as ca­reers.

I con­tacted Kmart with my NASA hoodie ques­tion and a spokesper­son said: “We wel­come cus­tomer feed­back ... so we im­prove and bet­ter re­flect the chang­ing needs of our com­mu­nity. The NASA kids’ wear range is available in both girls’ and boys’ styles ...”

Which is a lovely sen­ti­ment but doesn’t ad­dress the fact that if you go to the girls’ sec­tion the NASA hoodie won’t be there.

Why are the chil­dren’s clothes in sep­a­rate sec­tions? Say­ing good­bye to the sep­a­rate sec­tions would be a small step for Aus­tralian de­part­ment stores but it could be one gi­ant leap for gen­der equal­ity.

For more, go to www.kidspot.com.au

“SAY­ING GOOD­BYE TO THE SEP­A­RATE SEC­TIONS WOULD BE A SMALL STEP FOR DE­PART­MENT STORES BUT IT COULD BE ONE GI­ANT LEAP FOR GEN­DER EQUAL­ITY.”

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