By: Danielle Tierney/ Junior Writer
Whenever I shop, it irks me a little to see that men and women, boys and girls, are separated, especially when I see it in the children’s section. When we are young, it is implemented into our brains that girls should like the pretty pink glittery clothes, right? The monster trucks and superheroes clothing are in the boys’ section, so you can’t wear those. As a kid, it is very difficult to understand that you don’t have to conform to those expectations. In retrospect, I know that if I wanted to shop in the boys’ section as a young child, my mom would have let me, but many kids do not feel that kind of acceptance. Yet, as a kid I was scared to go outside of the gender boundaries that were placed on me by society. I was never told that it was okay, so I assumed it wasn’t. No kid should have to feel like they have to conform to the ideas of “male” and “female” clothing. It enforces harmful gender stereotypes, as well as hurts those who may not conform to any gender. So why not remove gender from all clothing?
Women have been working so hard and so long for respect and equality, and these types of separations prove that there is still a fight for this. I believe these harmful stereotypes reinforced in clothing need to go. If gender truly does not matter and we are all equal, let’s make clothing label free. Of course, nothing much really would change in terms of the clothing available. But suits, ties, dress shirts, and other “men” clothing would have gender neutral sizing and would have no label. Same with clothing for “women” like dresses and skirts.
A world with gender neutral clothing means that kids don’t get gender stereotypes ingrained in their brains from the day that they are born. Personally, I believe that harmful behaviors like sexism and racism are taught. The labels are a way that sexism is ingrained in our society, and I think it is going to be hard to progress further without its removal. You could argue that nobody is going to stop you if you want to buy from a section that is not your gender, but it still feels uncomfortable and wrong. With the insane amount of men’s clothing I own, I still feel weird going into the men’s section. Without the labels, I think everyone would feel less pressured to conform and would buy whatever clothes they want to express themselves regardless of the label. It is also extremely important for nonbinary people (those who do not identify with a specific gender) to feel like they belong. It is extremely hurtful when you buy clothing with a gender label when you personally do not identify with one. The labels also enforce the ideas that they have to conform to a gender.
Conformity to harmful norms has been something ever society has had to deal with. But just imagine if this one extra layer of conformity that has been around for decades is removed and we can all decide how to express ourselves regardless of what gender we are. I know this is not a change that is going to come overnight, but I see it as something that can definitely happen in the future.
The way clothing is now reinforces gender roles that are outdated and harmful. The way gender is viewed is changing. Engraining that a gender is supposed to be a certain way from our youth is how sexism is still alive. Men can wear skirts. Women can wear suits. Nonbinary people can wear dresses. We already see this, but there are some people who are still uncomfortable for no reason. The type of clothing a person chooses does not relate at all to their gender. It is just a piece of fabric. Once people realize that clothing truly does not have any gender, it will be easier to say goodbye to the labels. I think it is essential that we start removing of gender roles and expectations in any way we can. There is no way a gender is supposed to be, and I think we should reinforce that with clothing.