• Thu, Apr 7 2011

What Should Mini-Feminists Wear?

Does anyone remember, back in the 90s, when the whole “Girl Power” clothing for kids came out? I grew up in the Midwest, so I normally assume that I was a decade behind on any fashion development. Back then, I didn’t have Fashionista to explain each trend hours after it hits the runway. I just had to muddle along with whatever was available at my mall’s Limited Too.

Though I may not be sure when this trend started, I distinctly remember hoards of “Girls Rule, Boys Drool” clothing and how hardcore it made my friends and I. These shirts spawned millions of “Girl” quotes, which all seemed to end up in the Spice Girls movie. Then there were the sports-themed lines, which had female empowerment coupled with soccer balls, basketballs and volleyballs. During a memorable bet with my 5th grade teacher, I made him wear a “Girls Rule” sweatshirt for a day. Thanks for being a good sport, Dr. Bates!

Maybe this childhood clothing trend never ended. Maybe I just grew out of it and never had to think about it again until I had my own daughter. But all of a sudden, my three year old came home from daycare and told me, “Girls are Beautiful, Boys are Yucky.” Admittedly, her updated tagline is much more descriptive than mine was, even if it doesn’t rhyme. Then, I was sent a link for Pigtail Pals clothing. Apparently, kid-focused girl power is alive and well. These tee-shirts are striving to “Redefine Girly” as the company slogan proclaims. They have pictures of female firefighters saying, “I look good in red,” and girl movie directors saying, “Act like a lady.” Oh, and just for good measure, there’s a female construction worker with the caption, “I broke a nail.”

While I appreciate that the company is trying to make traditionally male jobs seem cool for young girls, I don’t know that they need to reinfornce a multitude of tired gender stereotypes in the process. And for the record, firefighters wear yellow. Duh.

To make a little real world connection, I was recently told by a higher-up in my company that I couldn’t go out and help some of the physical labor performed by our company. His reasoning: “I would hate for you to break a nail.” While the t-shirt is trying to poke fun at this lame excuse for not letting women into jobs that require manual labor, young girls aren’t going to understand the stereotypes or sarcasm or double entendres. They’ll just be wearing lame generalizations that they hear on a frequent basis. There’s a very good chance that they’ll be walking around thinking that wearing your best color or maintaining your manicure is important. In the spirit of “Girls Rule, Boys Drool” and how obviously awesome it was, I think we need to help Pigtail Pals come up with some more creative ways to redefine girly.

I’m looking for suggestions. I want to hear the message that you think our adorable mini-feminists should be wearing, whether you take this seriously or not. Here, I’ll even start the process.

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  • matbo

    “Girls are Beautiful, Boys are Yucky.” This sentence just reinforces how women are meant to be beautiful and not awesome and rocking. I would like a t-shirt that does not advocate one gender above the other, so I really loved the last slide..

    • Jamie B

      My thoughts as well. I don’t see how insulting males and reinforcing the “girls are supposed to be decorative” stereotype is gonna make an progress. I’m not a slogan-maker, but maybe something along the lines of “everybody rocks equally” would be more appropriate.

    • Lindsay Cross

      I agree that the second is not the most well thought out suggestion. But since it’s author is only three, maybe we give her a pass.

  • K

    “Someday, you will work for me.”

  • Eileen

    I don’t really like slogans on kids, personally – often they’re too young to understand fully the meaning of what that shirt says. Comfortable, pretty colors, age-appropriate cuts look good on mini-feminists, male and female alike (because we should raise little boys to be feminists, too!)

  • bones

    Why can’t we just put our children in clothing that isn’t gender specific, remind them that girls can excel in math and science too, and let them cultivate a variety of interests and abilities so they don’t need a slogan to remind them that they are intelligent, powerful, and deserving of respect?

    • katy

      That’s what my parents did. Because they are pretty much made of awesome sauce. Also because we were too poor to afford cutesie kids clothes from the Gap and shit.

  • WWYMD

    We like the messages “Zip it!” and “Dream on.” For a picture of the tees, visit http://www.wwymd.com

    • Lindsay Cross

      Ummm…. We appreciate the input. But conversation underwear is not exactly what we’re looking for. We’re talking young girls here. I don’t think we need to sexualize them anymore than Abercrombie already encourages.

    • WWYMD

      Our apologies…didn’t realize how young the target group was. Our conversation underwear was created from a mother’s perspective for high school and college-aged girls. With the bombardment of sexual messages aimed at young girls today, we wanted to give rise to a creative way of sending empowering statements to young girls to remind them of the family morals they were brought up with. It is our hope that the question “What would your mother do?” emblazoned on the front of a tee will inspire wise choices.

  • Melissa Wardy

    Hi Lindsay -
    I am the owner of Pigtail Pals, which you mention in your post. I think if you had dug deeper into my site, you would have discovered the tired, sexist phrases accompanied by a rare and empowered image of a girl doing exactly the opposite of the stereotype is a tongue in cheek way for adults to change the way they think about girls, while at the same time giving girls images and messages they don’t see anywhere else on apparel sold to them. I do not feel I’m reinforcing these stereotypes, I’m showing girls they hold no merit.

    For the record — parents and girls alike love the sarcasm and the new spin on an old phrase. The company just turned two years old both our Redefine Girly and Whimsy Bee lines are doing great.

    In children’s books, firefighters are almost always depicted wearing red. This line is geared for preschool age children, so I went with a color and message they would be most familiar with.

    What a bummer to hear you think my shirts are so lame, or that you didn’t contact me before you ran this negative story about my company. I work really hard at what I do, so once you have some creative and viable suggestions for me, feel free to email them to me at info@pigtailpals.com

    Best-
    Melissa Wardy
    Owner, Pigtail Pals