Parenting

Clothing Companies Are Sending Your Kids Some Really Sad Messages About How They 'Should' Dress

07/14/2015 06:11pm ET | Updated July 14, 2015

Kids' clothing sends a powerful message to little boys and girls -- and parents might not like what it's telling them.

The debate over sexism and rigid gender stereotypes in kids' clothing has been brewing for some time, but a new video by Bloomberg shows just how aware kids are of these seemingly subtle messages.

"No self-respecting boy in my class would wear that shirt," a 9-year-old boy says of a T-shirt with a faded gray graphic design overlaid with a rainbow-colored peace sign.

The shirt's deal-breaking feature: It has some pink in it.

Some of the most startling takeaways from the video include the idea that boys can't wear pink or purple, girls don't brag about their achievements, and dinosaurs, cupcakes and sports are not universally acceptable interests.

"A lot of this stuff people downplay as 'it’s just toys, it’s just clothing, lighten up.' But you’re sending cultural messages constantly. Kids are learning from all this," Jo Paoletti, professor at the University of Maryland and author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America, told The Huffington Post.

Several clothing companies like Svaha, Handsome in Pink and Quirkie Kids are trying to change the script with designs and messages that promote equality, Bloomberg reported.

Those companies' solution isn't to get rid of pink clothes for girls or take trucks off shirts for boys -- it's about putting them both up for grabs and erasing the notion that a color, object or interest is "wrong" for a child based on their gender.

Paoletti said it's a positive development to see more clothing manufacturers putting out unisex or universal clothing, but said until more retailers catch on, parents have another option when the girls' section lacks superhero shirts or a pink boy's shirt is nowhere to be found: "Break the rules a little bit."

Designer Kids Clothes