Gender equality. We tout the slow but steady progress of women entering into men's careers. We follow the statistics of how much women make to every man's dollar. We talk, ad nauseum, about various topics about gender equality. I personally read, learn, and research how to create a world that gives my daughters freedoms to accept their femininity and embrace who they are as "mighty girls." But I now realize that we have it all wrong. Because it starts with the basics.
It starts with underwear.
Not just any underwear, but toddler underwear.
I've been prepping for potty training of the 2 year old. I've read, sought advice, got all the supplies, prepped the child, all good. And then we went underwear shopping.
My daughter loves Disney. I have instilled that in her. I love Disney. I understand the entertainment machine that it is, and I accept that. I don't care so much for the princess world, but I love Pixar movies, and I love the classics. The kid loves Cars. She loves Monsters Inc. She loves Nemo. She loves Incredibles.
Most of all, she loves Toy Story: 1, 2, and 3. She runs through the house saying "Infinity and Beyond." She can tell you every character in all three films. She knows the soundtrack so well that within a few notes she can identity each song. For "I Will Go Sailing No More," she'll carefully explain to you that "Buzz is sad because he cannot fly" but that "Hanna will pick him up." She wears her Toy Story shirts with pride, adores her Jessie doll and slink dog, and I only imagine what kind of reception that Buzz and Woody will get when she receives them as gifts. And so, how do you explain to a 2 year old - that oh no, Toy Story is only for boys? They don't make Toy Story underwear for girls.
Survey your nearest Target, Kohls, Costco, etc... store and you will find all toddler girls underwear is pink and purple. Princesses, Dora, Hello Kitty. If you are lucky, you can find Minnie Mouse (in pink of course), but no Mickey Mouse. After much late night research, I've discovered Target carries a Disney pack with Jessie/Bullet and Nemo and you have to buy it online. But there are two basic rules of girl's underwear : 1) NO male characters allowed and 2) The colors must be primarily be purple and pink.
My daughter loves color. She loves red, blue, yellow, green, orange, and everything in between. She loves pink and purple too. Ask her for her favorite and it changes day-by-day - I know the feeling. Some days, I feel black. And so does the 2 year old.
I felt black in our search for underwear. So I did what any sensible mother would do. I bought her boys underwear.
And I'm angry about it. I'm not angry that she has to wear boys underwear - I'm angry that we live in such a prescribed world that dictates everything. I already agreed to live in the commercialism of Disney, Nickelodeon, and even PBS. I accept my responsibility for bringing up a child in the character landmine and to protect her from bad role models. I budget to ensure that we afford my own love of "fantasy" and indulge in the fun. But I am angry that once again, choice has been denied.
Now, of course, this goes both way, and there are no pastel colored, girl-characters on little boys underwear. And I've read several other blogs about the issue of sexist underwear for kids, including a great one on the Huffington Post, so I know I'm not alone. But no one seems to be listening.
Gender Equality. It starts with underwear.