High Street brand, John Lewis has released gender-neutral clothing for children, simply titled Boys and Girls. Defending their decision a statement was also issued, “We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes and instead want to provide greater choice.” Although, with this decision, John Lewis has taken a fresh, bold and progressive leap forward, unfortunately, they haven’t been met with the landslide of praise you would’ve hoped, instead opinion has firmly been divided.
As usual, Piers Morgan has been one of the more vocal of naysayers. On Good Morning Britain he lambasted the fashion line and subsequently questioned guest, Cheryl Rickman, “Why would you want boys looking at a bunch of dresses and think, that’s what I should wear?” Before going on to imply neutral clothing could only lead down the slippery slope to neutral bathrooms. And then presumably in his head, the utter destruction of planet Earth itself.
Destructive or Progressive?
Sure, some would agree with Piers Morgan in thinking gender neutral clothing could only lead to confusion within children (mostly boys) in terms of identity, and may even lead to teasing among classmates or strangers. However, I would counter that argument by reminding people that gender is ultimately a societal construct, created to put people into rigid boxes. After all, is it written in human DNA that women must like pink and boys must like monster trucks? No. From birth, we have been told our gender dictates to how we see the world and the way we should live our lives, regardless of our own personal preferences.
By releasing neutral clothing, John Lewis has taken a bold step towards empowering both boys and girls. Allowing children to make choices based on their own taste rather than on expectation, is something that should be encouraged. Also, this type of progressive thinking doesn’t just benefit children’s wardrobes, more importantly, it allows children to open up their attitudes on gender and identity. Hopefully, with their latest line, John Lewis will be able to set a trend that others will soon follow.