Yesterday, we bought the monster some long-sleeved T-shirts from the sale rack. One shriek-of-joy inducing Superman shirt and one plain white one. The actual mall was a bit colder than the store, so we decided to put the white one on over the shirt he was already wearing. Whereupon, I discovered that it's a girl's shirt.
Whatever. I don't really care. But when I offhandedly pointed it out to Mr. Wolfman, he asked a question which really made me think: How did I know?
He wasn't being glib. In the logical, less jaded mind of my husband, a plain white shirt for a toddler is without gender. I mean, how could something so basic, for children who will be essentially the same shape until puberty, be for one gender or the other? And what made it suddenly obvious to me that this was a little girl's shirt, instead of a little boy's?
The answer, which I gave while all of these thoughts were still forming in my head, was this: It's skin-tight (even a 3T, a full size bigger than what we usually buy for the monster, hugged his torso to the point it was actually a bit difficult to get on) - on closer examination, it's actually made out of a different, stretchier fabric - and it has a swooped neck.
Apparently, even 2-3 year old girls need to wear skin-tight, low(er) cut tops. Because... well, I can't think of a because. To show off their curves (aka baby fat)?
I actually find this kind of thing way more worrisome than fluffy skirts or cap sleeves or other 'girly' fare - because it's so insidious. Parents could easily buy a shirt like this for their daughter (or son), without even realizing what it is. And in so doing, they could be propagating stereotypes, or getting their child accustomed, from a painfully early age, to the type of clothing that some people will expect her to wear for the rest of her life.
My monster will go on wearing this shirt until he outgrows it. Probably as an undershirt, because that stupid swooped neck means it's not very snug for this time of year (toddler girls should sacrifice warmth for style, apparently). Part of me kind of hopes that someone will see it, notice it's "for girls" and ask themselves why that is.