“Little man, big ideas” for boys, “Little girl, big smiles” for girls

T-shirts from Himapicture

Anyone who buys clothes for their daughter may get the impression that there is a conspiracy in the clothing industry. Wherever you shop – Hema, H&M, Zara, C&A, etc. – it’s the same everywhere. Then it’s not so much that clothing manufacturers are obsessed with pink, as if they want to turn girls into oversized shrimp. And not because of the cliched distinction between pretty girls and aggressive boys, which is manifested in the prints of bunnies scurrying around in flower beds, and kittens on girls’ shirts, versus roaring tigers and tyrannosaurs on boys’ shirts.

The difference in texts on boys’ and girls’ clothing is particularly striking. The common denominator is that boys’ clothing associates the wearer with intelligence (science), heroism and ambition (leadership), and girls’ clothing pays special tribute to the wearer’s appearance and supposedly playful and sweet personality. The H&M set includes a boys’ T-shirt with a rocket and the text “Mission to Mars,” complete with interesting facts about the Red Planet. The dress reads that the gravity on Mars is 3,711 Newtons, that its moons are called Phobos and Deimos and that a day lasts about 40 minutes longer than Earth. A T-shirt that paves the way for the study of astronomy, but is designed expressly for boys.

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clothes shopping

Girls’ t-shirts are also nowhere to be found. Much smarter than “You’re beautiful!” or “beautiful” or “awesome!” it will not be. When boys’ t-shirts are filled with loud phrases like “Travel and never stop exploring” or “Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision,” the most inspiring message for girls is that life is better when you smile and that it’s great to be beautiful to be. While the boy is a “rock star” in the eyes of the Hema, the girls are a “princess”.

This dress code is not a Dutch phenomenon, but it is ubiquitous. In the UK, for example, department store chain Morrisons has been criticized for its “little guy, big ideas” slogans on T-shirts for boys and “little girl, big smiles” for girls. The competition featured Asda with “Future Scientist” for boys and “Hey Cutie” for girls. American fashion label Gap labeled girls as “social butterflies” and boys as “junior scientists” in an ad campaign.

Why this sharp distinction? Because customers want this distinction is the answer from the apparel industry. The truth is that there are simply differences between what boys and girls find beautiful. The C&A, for example, says the same goes for adults.

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When do girls begin to lose faith in their intellectual abilities? At six, at the same time changing baby teeth.