John Lewis’ recent decision to introduce gender neutral children’s clothing has divided the internet. The store has removed ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ labels from children’s dresses, trousers and other clothes, replacing them with ‘girls and boys’ or ‘boys and girls’.
In a statement last week, head of children’s wear at John Lewis, Caroline Bettis, said, ‘We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear.’
Gender stereotypes within children’s clothing has been a hot topic over the past few months, with retailers Morrisons and Mothercare among those criticised. While Mothercare offered girls the chance to ‘sparkle’, boys could choose to be a ‘genius’. Morrisons’ t-shirt selection included slogans such as ‘little girl, big smile’ and ‘little man, big ideas’. Understandably, many parents found the difference in girls and boys clothes to be sexist and old-fashioned.
However, it seems opinion over John Lewis’ introduction of gender neutral children’s clothing is split between those welcoming the move and those branding it ridiculous.
Let Clothes Be Clothes, the campaign for gender neutral clothing was, predictably, ‘absolutely thrilled’ by the news.
Other Twitter users agreed:
This is so funny because no ones saying that your child is a different gender, they're saying clothes are clothes https://t.co/d0XXhz9eYg
— brooke (@_spacexplorer) September 5, 2017
So happy to hear #johnlewis has removed gender labelling from its clothes. Hated being expected to wear pink dresses when I was a child!
— Sarah Williams (@nitlingtons) September 3, 2017
Yet not everyone was as supportive. Speaking on Good morning Britain, Piers Morgan said, ‘I have three sons and one little daughter. None of my sons have shown any interest in wearing dresses and my daughter wears 20 dresses a day. Why can’t we let boys be boys and girls be girls?’
Many Twitter users agreed with him:
the little sad faces when the girls are forced to wear the top with trucks on but they really want the princess one #johnlewis
— jeanie (@beadsnthings) September 3, 2017
Removal of gender labels from boys and girls clothes! You have lost my custom #johnlewis
— Nigel Morgan (@nigelmorgan_1) September 6, 2017
Twitter polls revealed the extent of the split:
RETWEET & VOTE
— Life/Political Polls (@jurygroup) September 5, 2017
The furore has led many to question whether other retailers will follow suit. Is this political correctness gone mad or should all children’s clothing be gender neutral? No doubt we haven’t seen the end of this debate.
Aimee Foster is a mum, freelance writer and social media manager, bookworm and sea lover. Find more of her ramblings over on her blog, New Forest Mum.