Princess Awesome designers launch gender-neutral clothes for boys
Crowdfunding campaign for Boy, Wonder reaches 50% of target funding in first hour
Eva St Clair: ‘Gender stereotypes work both ways.’ Photograph: Boy, Wonder
Princess Awesome, the children’s clothing company that revolutionised gender-neutral clothing for girls, has turned its attention to boys, launching a crowdfunding campaign on Tuesday that reached 50 per cent of its funding aim in the first hour.
“Gender stereotypes work both ways,” St Clair says. “Things that have been deemed ‘for girls’ do not appear on boys’ clothing anywhere, and that limits what all kids can be and do.
My son always tells people his favourite colour is ‘rainbow’. But shirts with rainbows, or even just bright colours, are only in the girls’ section
“My son always tells people his favourite colour is ‘rainbow’. But shirts with rainbows, or even just bright colours, are only in the girls’ section,” she adds. “As a parent, I think it’s important for his development to encourage him to embrace what he loves rather than force him into a narrow definition of masculinity.”
The new clothing line will offer boys’ clothes with motifs and colours usually found only on girls’ clothes: ice-cream sweatshirts, sparkly unicorn shirts and brightly coloured winter coats.
Parents have already reacted with enthusiasm: the pair’s crowdfunding campaign set a goal of $20,000, or just under €18,000, to bring seven Boy, Wonder products to market. An hour after it launched, more than $10,000 had been pledged.
A survey by St Clair and Melsky found that “parents want clothing that helps communicate to their sons that their gender does not limit their interests – the same way parents of daughters want their girls to stay interested in science while twirling in a fancy dress”.
Allowing young boys to embrace a variety of interests helps them grow up to be happier, healthier adults
Dr Christia Brown, a professor of child psychology and the author of Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue, says: “The ripple effects of this can be profound: a boy who is affirmed and allowed to be his authentic, unique self grows up to be a man who is comfortable expressing himself, who can embrace those interests and traits that make him unique. Allowing young boys to embrace a variety of interests helps them grow up to be happier, healthier adults.”
This style of parenting is a strong counter to the cultural pressure of toxic masculinity – suppressing emotion and eschewing anything considered feminine – and therefore weak and inferior, Melsky says.
“Rather than pushing them away from what has been viewed as traditionally feminine, these parents are encouraging their sons to take a view that those things are compatible with – indeed, a desirable part of – having a male identity.” – Guardian