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.