A Word In Edgewise: And The Enemy Is Us

pink infant baby clothes baby girl pacifier cap
pink infant baby clothes baby girl pacifier cap

Photo courtesy of BigStock/Saulich

While grazing on the Internet I noticed TikTok had thrown out a question concerning the oversexualization of girls’ baby clothes then posted a video of one new dad’s compelling answer.

Celebrating the birth of their daughter, Michael Vaughn and his spouse were gifted with a onesie labeled, “Sorry, boys. Dad says no dating.” “I’m wondering who they thought was going to date our 0-month-old daughter,” Vaughn mused, and researched further. He guessed the answer might be bad, but not “how bad.”

Their daughter is now 14 months old, and the scope of the problem his grown apace. Why was everything girl ruffled and hyper-pink? Why couldn’t he find a one-piece bathing suit for a female toddler?

Pants were a particular annoyance. While boys got “comfortable” pants, girls got skin- tight “sausage casings.” “I’m not squeezing a baby back into a sausage casing every single diaper change,” he vowed.

“When you compare girls’ clothes to boys’ clothes,” Vaughn discovered, “seemingly everything related to size is different, yet according to the Disease Control’s growth charts United States Center for, the average difference in size between a 36-month-old boy and girl is about half an inch and three-quarters of a pound.

“Despite this nearly imperceptible difference,” he continues, “girls’ clothes are often tighter than boys’ clothes in the same size, are made of flimsy and transparent fabric, and have shorter sleeves, shorter midriffs, shorter inseams, and lower necklines…[while] boys have clothes that are durable, protective, and emphasize power in their sayings and iconography. The disparities in clothing are just one way society reinforces the toxic mindset that female bodies are intended to be displayed, and conditions young girls to believe objectification is normal.”

Vaughn concludes that this systematic over-sexualization of girls’ clothing is a significant problem. “Clothes are just one example.” In response to his video, “There are literally hundreds (possibly thousands given the volume of comments) of women sharing experiences of being catcalled, shamed, and sexualized starting at a very young age.”

“Not to speak in absolutes,” says Vaughn, under a family photo with a smiling daughter in green, “but the clothes we buy our daughter that were intended for boys consistently fit more comfortably, are more durable, and aren’t see-through. The clothes we’ve found that were intended for girls are usually snug to the point of being form-fitting (even the same size), cover less, and feel pretty flimsy in terms of quality. There’s no reason for it.

“The most disturbing observation I’ve made is that it’s very easy to find clothes for girls that are revealing, and that’s not true for boys’ clothes. I don’t believe this is an accident. From the moment they’re very little, this is just one way society reinforces the toxic mindset that female bodies are intended to be displayed, and it conditions young girls to think objectification is normal.” Even boys’ shirt labels are more aggressive, proclaiming “Boob man,” or “Ladies, please, one at a time.”

“These toxic mindsets start at a very young age and have long-ranging and long-lasting impacts on girls’ self-image. I want dinosaurs and functional pockets for my daughter. She deserves dinosaurs and functional pockets.”


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