Photo Credit: thinkingcloset.com
What do all of these people have in common?
Michael Kors, Gianni Versace, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de La Renta, Christian Louboutin?
They are all men. They are all men, and they are successful fashion designers. Fashion designing is a profession in which men are quite respected and quite successful.
When my six year old son, who shows a strong propensity toward fashion, design, and putting colors and patterns together, wants to start doing some clothing designing of his own, he has to go into the “girls” section of the toy store and choose fashion plate toys in traditional “girl” colors, such as pink, turquoise, and purple.
“Why are they in only girl colors?” he wants to know. I try, unsuccessfully, to explain that designers don’t look at color that way. That colors can all serve different purposes, that everyone can wear every color…but that doesn’t work. He wants to know why they’re all pink. Why there isn’t a blue one. Why we have to go into the girls section to buy a fashion design art kit.
And just like that, sexism has clouded his natural talent and interest. He was so excited about designing his own clothes; he already picks out the outfits for everyone in our family. And then, society had to go and show him that actually, these toys are for girls. It was a passive message. Take him to the “girls section.” Notice they are all in girls colors. And now, I have to show him his initial ideas are skewed. I give him examples of some of the most famous male fashion designers. And of course, his next question makes perfect sense.
“So why are the toys just for girls then?”
Our society is so concerned about making sure that everything is available and gender neutral for girls that we’re forgetting that boys need to feel opportunity and equality too. I know, I know…feminism came out of the idea that women have less opportunities than men. I get that. But if we’re going to make sure there are role models that extend beyond princesses and ponies for young, impressionable girls, shouldn’t we extend the “boy toys” beyond violent superheroes and ninja turtles? My son wants to explore fashion and design. Why do I have to buy him a toy clearly marketed for girls?
Because we still haven’t come that far.