Why Those Against This Retailer's Decision To Sell Gender Neutral Kids Clothes Are Missing The Point

"John Lewis aren't suggesting that your children are gender neutral. They're suggesting that anyone can wear dinosaur prints."

Earlier this week, U.K. clothing brand John Lewis announced it will be removing "girls" and "boys" labels from their children's clothing in an effort to stop reinforcing gender stereotypes. Now, all of their children's clothing will be labeled as "Girls & Boys" or "Boys & Girls." In addition, they'll be rolling out a new line of non–gender–specific clothing for kids which will include such garments as pants and dresses with dinosaur and spaceship patterns on them. 

"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," head of childrenswear at John Lewis, Caroline Bettis, said.

The brand's website still has boys and girls sections, but this is currently under review and may eventually be changed to be in line with the branding they have in-store. 



According to The Independent, John Lewis is the first major retailer in the U.K. to remove gender labels from its children's clothing. The subject of the difference between boys' and girls' clothing options has been a popular topic in the past few years. Last year, an 8-year-old girl went viral for pointing out how disappointed she was while clothing shopping in the UK-based store Tesco with her mom. The boys' clothing had exciting and encouraging words such as "adventure awaits" and "think outside the box" while the girls' clothing said "hey" and "beautiful." 

Earlier this year, we wrote about a pair of sisters who were fed up by the clothing options available for their daughters. They were disappointed that boys had tons of looser, longer clothing options while the girls' clothing section was filled with short-shorts, body-hugging T-shirts,  and small bikinis. So, they started a clothing line that offers clothes their daughters would feel more comfortable and happy in. Several other designers have clothing lines with slogans that empower young girls as well as boys' clothes that push against gender stereotypes

Unsurprisingly, such announcements to remove gender labels are often met with backlash and it was no different for John Lewis.

People took to Twitter to share their disappointment in the retailer's decision, but many of them seemed to be completely missing the point.



So, uh, let's clear a few things up here, shall we? Some people just think this is "taking political correctness too far." We're sure some others still have an archaic problem with boys liking flowers and girls liking superheroes. But it seems like many people on Twitter who have a problem with John Lewis' announcement are equating the decision with catering specifically to people who are transgender or gender non-conforming. While there would be nothing wrong with that if they were, that's not what's happening here.

The term "gender neutral" simply means suitable for or common to both males and females. Can girls like dinosaurs? How about science, math, or superheroes? Can boys like dancing or baking? How about the color pink or purple? The answer to all of these questions is, of course, yes. Having an interest in something does not determine someone's gender. Yet, kids' clothes are often designed with sexist messages, encouraging girls to focus on their looks, and boys on their brains. 

John Lewis hopes to fight against that with this decision simply by making their clothing labels more inclusive. The brand is not saying there aren't different genders. They're just adding a tag that says "boys and girls" on a shirt with a rocket ship on it so that girls who are interested in space feel more comfortable wearing it. This is about giving kids more options to express their interests with their clothing choices, not about "trying to confuse them" about their gender as many people seem to have assumed. 

Many Twitter users responded by attempting to correct the misunderstanding.



Fashion is a way to express yourself. Kids should be given the option to wear whatever they want without having to worry about whether a piece of clothing is considered "boyish" or "girlish" if they feel it helps them to express themselves. 

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