All Boy: Ensuring Heterosexuality through Blue Onesies

One of the most grating things to read or hear about a newborn is that he’s “ALL BOY.” What does that even mean?  It’s as if the parents wish they could hang a picture frame around its junk. All boy. Please.

I also hate what this has done to children’s clothing. Boy clothes are all footballs, cars, and firetrucks in various shades of green and blue. None of which I care about. None of which Dad cares about. None of which the infant child himself could POSSIBLY have an opinion about.  I confess that sometimes I hope for a female child just so that I can have more fun with the clothing.

Anyway, I digress. Last week I read a fascinating article called “When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?” all about the history of children’s clothing in the last couple of centuries.  The article begins with an image of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a child with long locks and a big white, frilly frock.  Back then all children dressed in white dresses for practicality. Boys didn’t get their first hair cut until 6 years old. Basically all children looked like what people today would describe as feminine.

Then manufacturers learned that personalization was the key to selling more clothing.  Pink and blue arrived on the scene, but the genders as we know them to day were often reversed.  “Ladies’ Home Journal article in June 1918 said, ‘The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.'”

As expected, there was a feminist backlash against gendered clothing in the 1960s. And rightfully so. Clothing has always had a way of demeaning women, making us more sexy but less mobile, less comfortable, less able to do and act and be.

According to the article today there is also more demand for neutral clothing options. That may be true. But there’s also a disturbing amount of “funny ha ha” boys clothes.  Take for example this Amazon search for “baby boy clothes.” Among the expected camoflauge print and vicious animal (shark, albeit a cute one) is the ever charming “I am a Boob Man” shirt.  Near it you’ll find “I drink ’til I pass out.”

Another Amazon search for “baby girl clothes” has mostly (ugly) floral options and a couple outfits featuring a meek food-based animal (the dairy cow).  Interestingly, the page features the same camo print as the boy’s page but also has a baby doctor outfit. Not a costume but a little two-piece layette with a printed stethoscope. Awww. Want.

Anyway, it’s interesting. It seems that there is a sense that if we dress boys in “feminine” clothing they’ll turn out gay. But really if we think that dressing them as anything, including a wee little surgeon, will have any effect on their future behavior, we’re deluding ourselves. When it comes down to it, baby clothing is an expression of the parents’ tastes and hopes for the child. I want a little surgeon.  Other classy folks might want a boob man. And in that way, I think you can influence your child’s behavior. Not how you dress them. But how you raise them.

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3 thoughts on “All Boy: Ensuring Heterosexuality through Blue Onesies

  1. As the Scritchy One points out, there are very few basic genres for baby boy clothing: modes of transportation, sports, construction, jungle animals, and puppies.

    Beyond my philosophical aversions to assigning a particular color to a particular gender, I have a financial aversion as well. Baby stuff is EXPENSIVE. I really don’t want to have to re-purchase everything again, should the next baby be a girl. We’ve been going with green and brown and elephants in the nursery, and a red car seat, and about as gender neutral as we can get for everything.

    Oh, and the “all boy” stuff? Yeah. I made a lot comments about our child being decidedly a boy after our shock at seeing unmistakably male anatomy. For gosh sake, you can see foreskin in one of the ultrasound pictures.

    What does being “all boy” mean, though? To me, “all boy” means the burping, farting, sports watching, beer drinking, disrespectful to women good old boy. Blech. In a child, “all boy” is the quintessential child who plays with guns and trucks.

    Being male—or female, for that matter—isn’t limited to one set of characteristics.

    Oh, and did you see this? http://www.hulu.com/watch/232385/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-toemageddon-2011-this-little-piggy-went-to-hell Talk about blowing something out of proportion. I think Jon Stewart was right on the money with this one.

  2. Wow. Foreskin? No wonder you kept those X rated ultrasounds off the internet. 🙂

    I had heard about the nail polish story, but I had not seen that Jon Stewart clip. HILARIOUS! Toemageddon. I was in tears. I think I need to watch it again.

  3. I will indoctrinate my son into being properly male by forcing him to watch all 5 movies in the Fast and the Furious series within the first week of him being home, ensuring that all his clothing have pictures of things exploding on them (preferably puppies), and teaching him the philosophies of Ron Swanson. Without this indoctrination, he will certainly end up being a homosexual. I have yet to inform the wife of this proper indoctrination. I’m sure she will be okay with it.

    Perhaps it is the people that I am actually around, but I have thankfully never heard the term “all boy.” I think hearing it would fill me with an overwhelming desire to punch the individual in the face or at least speak with a Larry Davidesque lack of a filter.

    I think this all about parents fear that they will make their child catch the gay, especially in LDS circles. They must follow the societal norms to prove that it isn’t their fault. I’m pretty sure if the child ends up preferring the company of men when he is an adult, it won’t be because his clothing lacked the appropriate golf clubs or because of any pink nail polish.

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