Snips and snails and Nike logos

It doesn't matter what kind of diaper Daniel's wearing, he still manages to leak all kinds of pee through his clothes every night, so yesterday I went shopping to buy him a couple more pairs of footed pajamas so I wouldn't have to do laundry every day. So far we've been fortunate not to have to buy many new clothes for Daniel. Between the used rack at Happy Bambino, gifts from friends and relatives, and hand-me-downs, I've only had to fill in some gaps here and there.

So off I went to Kohl's, which is situated in a big, nasty parking lot/mall complex on the west side of Madison, but nonetheless has inexpensive children's clothes and a pretty good selection. Or so I thought. There were certainly racks and racks of things to choose from, but the choices boiled down to:

- sports logos
- ironed-on race cars, trucks and fire engines
- baseball/football/basketball motifs with things like "Daddy's little All-star!" embroidered on
- Green Bay Packers onesies

I didn't spend much time looking on the girls' racks, but a cursory glance showed a selection of flowers, kittens, lots of pink, and a onesie that read "Does this diaper make my butt look big?" I shouldn't have to tell you what I thought of that one.

Now, I'm not a person who gives terribly much thought to what I'm wearing. I've never had a full-time job that required dressing up every day, and I was raised to believe there are better things to spend money on than lots of nice clothes. Things like a college education, travel and good books are more of a priority for me. (Well, and yarn, but I'm trying to be good.) Besides, most of what I wear gets doused with pee, barf, drool and pureed vegetables.

When it comes to little kids, they REALLY don't care what they're wearing, as long as they're comfortable. But at what point do they start noticing that girls are almost exclusively dressed in pretty, flowery, soft clothes, and boys in more aggressive, active, extroverted clothes? As if girls don't play sports and aren't interested in trucks. (When I was little, I loved cement trucks. I still get kind of excited when I see one, but that's a story for another day.) As if boys can't appreciate flowers and butterflies.

After 20 minutes, I settled on the only two pairs of jammies I could stomach, one with little ducks all over, and one with puppies. When I left the store, I was thoroughly disgusted, both with the clothing companies and the store for their merchandise, and a little bit with myself for caring so much.

I know there are other options out there, but I have a feeling they're expensive. I'm conflicted about this. I'm not going to shop designer labels, but I want to avoid making my kid look like a lil' NASCAR fan. I don't have time to make all of his clothes, and I don't think it's worth it considering that he, too, is often covered with pee, drool and all the rest.

I also know that in the scheme of things, this is not a big deal. The war in Iraq, global warming, homophobic legislation - all those things bother me a heck of a lot more than baby fashion trends. But it's still pretty annoying. Maybe I should start a line of affordable, stereotype-free kids' clothes. Maybe I should just get over it.


Becca said…
Maybe we could start that line of clothing together.

I buy most of CJ's clothes at Target. I've bought some at Kohl's, and I confess to buying a few shirts from WalMart during a moment of weakness and giving in to the damned corporate devil. It seems no matter where I go, girls clothes outnumber boys clothes by a 4:1 ratio. I tend to buy stripes and solids and lots of bugs, lizards, and dinosaurs. That's not to say I don't get the occasional duck, since I do, and I love the little t-shirts with the Beatles cartoon characters and little sayings like, "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

I think what's marketed to girls is shameful--little hoochie mama tops and suggestive words printed across the seat of too short shorts--last week, while coming home from work, I saw two girls in my neighborhood walking home from the pool. Neither one was older than 12, they were wearing barely there bikini tops and short-shorts, and had smeared eyeliner from the pool water. They didn't look like kids but more like washed out crack whores looking for a trick off Van Buren near downtown. Maybe I'm a prude, but I was shocked, dismayed, and angered--at the girls for having so little self esteem that they think it's cool to look like whores, at the clothing companies and fashion magazine that promote inappropriate sexualization at earlier and earlier ages, and the parents for deciding it's easier to let their daughters look like whores than subject them to teasing at school for wearing something more appropriate.

OK, maybe I should get off my soapbox now since I've gone way off topic. It just really steams me.
Suze said…
if i had any knowledge about business and marketing whatsoever, i would actually consider it, beck! but there are 2 problems:
1. i am woefully ignorant of business and marketing, and not motivated to learn. entrepeneurship is just not my thing.
2. i don't know if there's a way to do such a thing and make said clothing affordable without employing slave labor.
Thorny said…
I have had the exact same thought about starting up my own line of kids' clothes. It kills me - even if you can find something that's not plastered over with backhoes or other construction vehicles, or sports junk, or other "boy" things, it's all red and blue.

I remember when my twins were still newborns, a friend was visiting and I was sorting some laundry, and she was like, "Wow. That's an awful lot of red and blue." And I was a) stunned that I was so wiped out that I'd failed to notice myself and b) so frustrated because it was true! Especially since I'm shopping for /two/ little boys, it's hard to only buy the non-blue/red combinations.

I do a lot of clothes shopping at Target (I'm surprised to find I'm more of a clothes horse than I have always thought, so I looooooved the little "surf shack" trend of this summer), and we also keep an eye out for sales at The Children's Place, which has great quality stuff and it's often easy to find things that are solid colors or stripes without logos and junk all over them. Sometimes the online store has stuff deeply discounted too, but it sells out quickly.

Friends of ours have a daughter who's almost three, and they have a /terrible/ time finding clothes for her that aren't either "hoochie mama" stuff, or that don't look like a flower bed threw up on them. They do their best, but it's not easy.
Jenn Hacker said…
Jamie wore a lot of yellow, pale green, blue (all shades) and red as a baby. I chose these colors not because they were all that were available (mostly they were), but because they look good on him with his fair skin/hair, freckles and beautiful eyes. Most of his clothes were/are hand-me-downs from neighbors, acquisitions from The Children's Orchard (resale shop) or thrift stores, so my basic requirement was that it not be stained/ripped and fit (somewhat - 2 sizes too big was okay, I just rolled up the sleeves). He did wear a lot of Mickey Mouse/other Disney characters and seersucker during the summers, though. Who would have thought that "rebel dresser" Jenn would be dolling her boy up in preppy clothes? Now he wears a lot of solid colors - orange polos and tees, lots of blues, greens and reds (all his choices), plaid variations of same, and lots of olive green and khaki. He even has some purple shirts he wears (one is a VeggieTales tee that says "God made me special" that I really like. It was a gift from "the Easter Bunny" and he started wearing it in response to the bullying he was experiencing at school). I will say that Jamie's favorite blanket is named "pink blankie" because it's, well, babydoll pink with other shades of pink and yellow polka dots on it. Okay, now I'm done rambling; there was a point in there somewhere, but I lost it along the way. Sorry!
Anonymous said…
Yeah, it seems that the boys get the short end of the style stick. But, I did find some really cute boys clothes on-line. City Threads and, Splendid for babies are more of "hip" designers.
Anonymous said…
Being the father of a brand new baby girl, which I dress in skeleton shirts and bad role playing game jokes, I understand your pain. I agree with the above posts that Target seems to offer the best selection, HOWEVER, I hate the fact that Target is a LARGE donor to the Republican Party. Last year they donated something in excess of a million dollars to the Republicans and not a single cent to the Democrats. Seems weird but true.

Suze said…
Who are you, anonymous who left the link to the website with boys' clothes?

I checked it out and while there is some really nice stuff on there, there is no way in hell I'm paying $64 for a single outfit. Just no way.

I know there are lots of nice kids' clothes out there. Before Daniel was born, for example, I bought a bunch of stuff on clearance from Babystyle, and was really happy with the quality and colors and so forth. It's the cost that I have a problem with. The more affordable brands are the ones that don't provide choices without the yicky stereotypes.

As for Target contributing to the Republicans...sigh...that's bad news, but they're still not as evil as Wal-Fart.
Anonymous said…
The whole Target thing isn’t new. Apparently they have always been a big Republican supporter. If you think about it, it is a pretty good strategy, take in liberal’s money and then turn around and give it to the Republican Party. As to Wal-Mart, I promised myself that I will not hijack your blog, but I am not sure it is as simple as saying Wal-Mart is the most evil. A year ago, I would have agreed with you, but since then I have done some research and it really isn’t that simple. There is no doubt that Wal-Mart is the biggest, but in many (if not most) ways they are one of the least “evil” retailers. Other than Costco, they beat every other retailer in their employee pay, benefits, gifts to charity and environmentally friendly policies. I think it is very similar to the whole McDonald’s thing. Everyone thinks they are the worst, because they are the biggest, when in actuality it is a very different situation. Compare McDonald’s practices to Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Hardee’s, KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, etc. etc. etc., and they look like a saint.

Do I like Wal-Mart? No.

But do I think the bashing they get is deserved when people praise other retailers in the same breath. No, I don’t.

Jenn Hacker said…
I live at Wal-Mart. Not that I necessarily love them that much - it's just Wally World is the only thing I can afford on a regular basis. Plus, the convenience of having groceries, clothes, electronics, pharmacy all under one roof is something I like. I don't have time to go running five different places to get what I need. And Target has a crappy selection of plus size clothes, they are overpriced and fall apart even more quickly that Wal-Mart stuff does.

And if what Roy says about Target funding the Republicans, then I guess I can see why there's red everywhere in the store. Subliminal politicking, anyone? LOL
Suze said…
bah! fie upon them all!!!!! i avoid target, too.

i think wal-mart's the worst because they're sexist and racist in their hiring and promotion policies. plus the whole thing about not hiring older, fatter people so they could save $$ on health care costs pissed me off. the thing is, they're the BIGGEST, so they have the capacity to change these things and set an example for everyone else. mcD's now sells fair trade coffee, for example. it's a start.

blech, enough rambling. all i want is a perfect world. is that too much to ask?

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