When Z was just a wee gestating bean in my belly at 26 weeks, someone asked Brent the usual question, “What are you having?” Brent told them that we were going to wait and be surprised. The person asked, “How do you even prepare for that? Do you just buy green clothes?” I guess my mind has as hard a time wrapping itself around the idea of a limited wardrobe solely because our kid isn’t assigned a gender as this person’s brain had trying to imagine a wardrobe without gender. So allow me to explain…
“Gender-neutral” clothes doesn’t mean parents are only left with green or yellow as an option. Raising a gender-creative child does not mean they have a boring wardrobe. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; because Z is gender-creative it feels like we have even more options! We had a blast shopping for Z before they arrived and how we shop for them hasn’t changed since their birth. Instead of sticking to one side of the store, we peruse all of it, and stick to some pretty simple guidelines…
1. No color/pattern is off limits
Fabric doesn’t have a gender. Pink and purple are not just for girls and blue and black are not just for boys. Sometimes I see a pattern and have a quick flash of “oh, that’s for boys” or “that’s for girls” but then I ask myself why I thought that – just because it’s on the boys’ rack? Or the girls’ aisle? Since when were lightning bolts for boys or dragonflies for girls? Lightning isn’t gendered and there are male and female dragonflies. Yes – these are absolutely the types of conversations I have in my head at TJ Maxx. Ultimately, if I like it, I buy it. That said, some patterns are off limits – It’s unlikely we’ll buy a onesie with lipstick tubes all over it or pants covered in tiny mustaches because of the reasons I mention in the next section.
Raising a gender-creative child does not mean they have a boring wardrobe.
2. Steer clear of gendered phrases
I’m not a big fan of words on clothes in the first place, but especially with a gender-creative babe, I don’t buy clothes that have gendered or sexualized phrases on them. For instance, while we're choosing Z’s wardrobe until they’re old enough to pick clothes out, we won’t buy a shirt that says the word ‘beautiful’ or ‘handsome’ or ‘princess’ or ‘quarterback’ on it because those are designed to be very gendered. Although of course there are beautiful boys and there are girls who throw a mean football, most people coming across a kid in a shirt with those words will likely stick them in one of two boxes – boy or girl – and because the phrases are gendered, they might illicit a gendered interaction, such as, “yes look at this beautiful princess.” Or, “look at the guns on this little man.” Even worse are sexualized (specifically hetero-sexualized) words and phrases, such as “flirt” or “heartbreaker” or “lock up your daughters” or “daddy says no dating till I’m 40” *cringe*. We believe Z’s sexuality and sexual orientation is completely up to them, so we don’t sexualize our kid. We don’t think it’s cute.
Otherwise – shopping for a gender-creative kid is easy and fun! Brent and I are stylish people (or so we like to think) who enjoy cool clothing, so that is something that translates into our parenting practice too. When Z starts expressing that they give a hoot about what they wear, we will let them pick out their outfits at home and peruse all the aisles when we’re shopping. We will encourage Z to look at the clothes in the “girls” section and the “boys” section (without telling them they are labeled as such) and smile as they pick out an amazing sequin sweater and camo cargo overalls – we’ll even be more likely to give our business to companies that don’t have such silly, unnecessary distinctions.
You can head on over to our Instagram account to see Zoomer’s gender-creative wardrobe.