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Big brands like Carter’s have designs that usually emphasize that little boys are tough, athletic, fearless, and adventurous—there’s more swagger than sweetness. “The message for boys is, you are into transportation vehicles, and fierce dinosaurs, and pirates, and you must play sports!” said Jo Hadley, the founder of the children’s clothing line Handsome in Pink. “It’s just this whole storyline that is as limiting for boys as it is for girls.”
Hadley launched Handsome in Pink in 2007 after her son, who wanted to wear pink clothes like his big sister, was repeatedly mistaken for a girl in interactions with strangers. “He was wearing a lot of his sister’s clothes, but there was a different language and treatment of girls, which I started to notice,” Hadley told me. “People were calling him a little princess and coming up to me and saying, ‘Awww, you have two sweet, cute little daughters.’ And it was really confusing for my son.”
So she asked him what kinds of clothes he wished he could wear. “He said, ‘I want a pink shirt with an electric guitar and a rocket ship and a firetruck and a motorcycle,’” Hadley said. “Those were the first four images I created in pink and in purple. My son was just over the moon. But the thing I hadn’t even thought about is that my daughter, who was 4, was equally just like, ‘Get those clothes on me. I want to wear those clothes.’”
So Hadley decided to make clothes for everyone, not just for boys. Her designs include a purple onesie with a yellow tool-belt design, a pink-and-purple T-shirt featuring a dirt bike, and a baseball tee that says “Girly Girl” in letters designed to look like a flexed muscle, a test tube, a tree, a drum, a scooter, and other images.
...“My eyes have just been opened to the inequalities for boys and for girls,” Hadley said. “It’s just damaging to our entire culture. From the very beginning, it reinforces the way that adults interact with children. Part of the mission with these clothes is to remind the adults that these kids are limitless.”
Read the full story at The Atlantic.
Sure, we've come some way in tackling gender norms, but we still have a long way to go. Hadley talked about a recent Lego magazine her son received.
"On the back cover of the magazine were the words 'Charge into Battle 2016'" she said. "And it's this image of all of these Lego figures covered in armor with aggressive faces... and they're fighting and there are big long swords and fire."
Meanwhile, she described an insert for the Lego Friends — the ones marketed toward girls:
"There are six sexualized girls with big eyes and short dresses. They all have their arms around each other, having their pictures taken. The comic inside is about a big slumber party they're going to have and it's all lovey dovey. They're not even talking about anything."
Her conclusion? "Our kids are are just so imbued in this extreme division of battle versus soft, sexualized friendships. They're both wrong," she said. "They're two extremes and things need to come more toward the center — more access to everything!"
Hadley's point is strong — and it carries over to clothing, too.
Read the full story at Upworthy.
As the back-to-school sales begin and consumers return to stores for the second-largest shopping season, some parents are bound to be frustrated by what can seem to be binary choices in children’s clothes. Jo Hadley has been one of them.
The mother of two co-founded Handsome in Pink in 2007 when she couldn’t find clothes in one of her young son’s favorite colors, pink. Ms. Hadley was frustrated that everything that was pink was also highly feminized, with lots of sparkles, butterflies, and fairies. Her son would wear these clothes in public, but often became confused when mistaken as a girl.
Handsome in Pink fills a “gaping hole in the clothing industry,” she says, by marketing traditionally masculine motifs, like electric guitars and motorcycles, on pink and purple shirts. To her surprise, her daughter, who had been so into mainstream girls’ clothing, enjoyed wearing the new clothes, too. “Girls don’t get the [same] imagery,” says Hadley, now the sole proprietor of Handsome in Pink. “They don’t get the adventure on [their] shirts.”
Hadley is part of a growing movement focused on breaking gender clichés in children’s clothing. Rejecting the usual divide between pink clothes for girls and blue clothes for boys, a small but growing group of parents is putting pressure on major retailers to start offering a wider variety of choices. Many, including Gap and Target, have responded with less gendered lines of clothing, toys, and, more. Additionally, many parents are choosing to shop with independent retailers or , like Hadley, create their own lines of clothing.
Read the full story at The Christian Science Monitor.
Handsome in Pink is the brainchild of mom Jo Hadley, who launched the Oakland-based clothing line in 2007 when her toddler son was going through a big “pink and purple phase.” As the brand’s website states, “We believe that colors (such as pink and purple) and active imagery (such as firetrucks, tool belts, and electric guitars) belong to everyone and should be mingling, not dividing up along gender lines.”
With a constantly growing line of empowering clothes — like a “Forget Princess, Call Me President” shirt for girls — Handsome in Pink is still thriving today, the mom told The Huffington Post. And as for Hadley’s son, the now-10 year old still counts purple as his favorite color.
Read the full story at The Huffington Post.