In recent years, there has been a global affirmative action movement calling for people to break gender stereotypes in how they dress and address them in everyday terms. In the midst of this movement, British retailers are struggling with how to “correctly” distinguish between men’s and women’s clothing.
John Lewis, a well-known British retailer, removed the gender label from all its own children’s clothing and launched unisex baby clothes at the beginning of this year. Nowadays, whether skirts or pants, the children’s clothing sold by this store is labeled “Boy & Girl” and “Girl & Boy” in an attempt to present a gender-neutral style in order to change people’s gender stereotypes.
Caroline Bettis, Head of Children’s Wear at John Lewis, said: “We don’t want to reinforce gender stereotypes, we want to give customers more product options, so parents and children have the freedom to choose what they want to wear. (Instead of malls telling customers that girls should wear children’s clothing with a distinctly female gender and boys should wear distinctly male children’s clothing.) ）”
This approach is a lesson learned from peers. Previously, Asda (acquired by Wal-Mart in 1999) in the UK was used for the “future scientist” printed on boys’ T-shirts, and the girls’ T-shirts on “Hi, cutie!” The words “Pony is Awesome” were accused of sexism by public opinion.
Another British supermarket, Tesco, has also been criticised by the mother of an 8-year-old British girl for being sexist. Among the children’s clothing sold in the supermarket, boys’ children’s clothing is printed with slogans such as “The desert is waiting for you to explore”, “Think outside the box”, “Heroes”, and girls’ children’s clothing is “Beauty” and “Hi! “It feels great”.
“Everyone thinks that girls should be beautiful, and boys should be adventurous.” The mother of the 8-year-old British girl said. She also recorded a video criticizing Tesco’s sexist tendencies, which quickly resonated online.
However, John Lewis’ removal of explicit gender labels did not receive all votes in favor. In the eyes of many British netizens, John Lewis’ department store launched gender-neutral children’s clothing just to cater to the mainstream view of “gender equality”, and even said that he would boycott the department store.
Andrew Bridgen, a father of two boys, a Leicestershire Conservative MP, believes John Lewis’ approach could put parents in trouble. “How many people would buy a dress for their 6-year-old son? The physiological characteristics of boys and girls are inherently different. If your child is a boy, why waste time in the skirt section? ”
However, there are still many human rights activists and parents who agree with John Lewis’s approach.
Let Clothes Be Clothes, a gender-equality group made up of British parents, praised John Lewis’ new initiative and said that while boys and girls are biologically different, there is no big difference between the sexes in cultural ideology. In the commercial society, many retailers tell consumers how girls should dress and men how to dress for business purposes such as increasing sales and profits, which actually deepens gender discrimination.
The mother of twin sons, American writer Dinah Spritzer, was also a supporter of John Lewis’ New Deal. “My son is 5 years old, brave and loves sports and trucks, but he also likes pink clothes and nail polish,” she said. Some parents will be embarrassed by the man’s preference and worry that their child will become a sissy. This idea is ignorant and outrageous. ”