I dress my daughter in boys’ clothes (and not everyone approves)

Katie Dupuis balks at the thought that her daughter’s wardrobe should only be from the girl’s side of stores.

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Katie refuses to only buy pink clothing for her daughter Sophie. Photo: Katie Dupuis

Today’s Parent managing editor Katie Dupuis likes structure and organization. A lot. Now, imagine this Type A editor with a baby. Funny, right? We’re sure you’ll love Katie’s musings on life with Sophie and husband Blaine.

In an age where parents are raising gender-neutral kids (remember the controversy around a Toronto child called Storm a few years ago?), I never thought I’d have to justify my wardrobe choices for my daughter. This is 2014. In 2014, women can be surgeons and men can be hairstylists. In 2014, there are stay-at-home dads and CEO moms. In 2014, girls can choose to play whatever sport they want, and boys can choose books over hockey skates. But in 2014, I get glared at when I buy boys’ pull-ups because the girls’ ones were sold out in Sophie’s size. (Seriously, she likes the Monsters Inc. characters. What does it matter that they’re blue? And honestly, was I going to go back to the store later to buy the pink ones when the blue ones work just the same? Um, definitely not.)

Read more: Does your child challenge traditional gender roles? >

When Soph was a few months old, I was standing in Old Navy looking at the wall of newborn clothes. I was strategically trying to buy things that would work for both genders, knowing that we wanted to have more kids and that not everything had to be pink. I was holding up a pair of tiny jeans with lavender stitching against a tiny pair with navy stitching, to see if I could notice a difference in cut. A young mother with two kids stood a few metres away. Her son was about two or three and her daughter looked to be about the same age as my Sophie.

“Excuse me?” I said.

“Yes?”

“Can I ask you a quick question?”

“Sure.”

“I just notice that you have a son and a daughter, and I’m wondering, when you put his hand-me-downs on her, do you see a difference in fit?”

The woman looked at me, horrified. “I would never put boys’ clothes on my daughter.”

I was dumb-founded. I’m the second of four kids, with an older brother. I wore Matt’s hand-me-downs forever. (I think I still have a couple of his old sweaters.) I never even thought about it being taboo.

“OK, thank you,” I said, when I really wanted to a) hide my face in shame or b) ask her if money grew on trees in her world. I opted for neither, but I did decide on the drive home that I wasn’t wrong, that Sophie would look just as adorable in a blue-and-green striped onesie as she would in a pink polka-dot one. I’ve operated on that assumption ever since.

Read more: Yes, I’m having a girl. No, I don’t want pink > 

On the same day as the blue pull-up incident, Soph and I approached the counter at the coffee shop around the corner from our house. “Is that a boy or a girl?” the woman behind the register asked. Soph had on a turquoise coat, but otherwise she was wearing a pink hat and pink boots. Her ponytail stuck out at the side. “A girl,” I said.

“You should buy her a different jacket,” the woman replied and went to fill my order.

Read more: Traditional gender roles: Boys will be boys >

I couldn’t help but laugh (even though I wanted to tear a strip off of her). I don’t know if the universe was trying to tell me something or not, but frankly, I don’t care. My daughter will be a strong, confident woman who doesn’t need pink to prove it.

What do you think? Do you dress your kids in clothes for the opposite gender?

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