Controversy erupted on the internet this past weekend over a U.K. retailer making their children’s clothes gender neutral. Some people weren’t big fans of this decision–while others were overjoyed. John Lewis, the department store, took down its signage separating that department into “girls” and “boys” sections–and also launched a unisex baby and toddlerwear line.
— The Independent (@Independent) September 2, 2017
The retailer’s head of children’s wear, Caroline Bettis, stated why the company decided to do this:
“We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear.”
As pointed out by The Huffington Post, Member of Parliament Andrew Bridgen was one of the detractors: “It appears political correctness continues to march and, whether it is going in the right direction, is a point for debate. I cannot see many customers buying a dress for their six-year-old boy.”
The ironic thing about this whole outrage is the fact that the change isn’t new–it started happening in the beginning of 2016–it’s just something people started realizing apparently. The gender neutral baby line debuted in January 2017–as a way for parents to have “greater choice” and so “children can choose what they would like to wear,” according to a company spokesman.
We are absolutely thrilled by this announcement from John Lewis!
Alongside changes coming at Clarks Shoes, THIS… https://t.co/3mDf87A4vK
— LetClothesBeClothes (@letclothesbe) September 2, 2017
The organization, Let Clothes Be Clothes, an organization that promotes gender equality and removing stereotyping in kid’s clothes, echoed their support:
“The move by John Lewis to remove gender stereotyping is not about gender-less children, it is about gender-less clothes. The gender neutral term is misleading. It’s not about making all kids the same, it’s acknowledging that all children are different. Selling ‘children’s’ clothes rather than ‘girls’ or ’boys clothes enables children to be themselves without restrictions.”
But really, I think this tweet says it all:
John Lewis are removing gendered labels from clothing? Shocking. This country needs a return to Victorian values. pic.twitter.com/AxdnIDtBzT
— David Llewellyn (@TheDaiLlew) September 3, 2017