Ah, John Lewis. Not only are your Christmas adverts unmatched, but now you are taking the lead in the battle against gender stereotyping, and I love you even more.

I remember a few years ago when I was childminding the boys who live across the road from me, and I was puzzled by the older boy’s choice of clothing. He was wearing leggings, and I remember thinking “weird for a boy.”

Then pretty much immediately after this judgemental thought, I realized that there existed no reason that it was weird for this child to be wearing leggings, because why on earth shouldn’t he? Leggings are cosy, something members from both sexes can appreciate.

I was a victim of my own reaction, of my own thoughts. I had been indoctrinated by society and the divisive clothing aisles and the exclusive labels which told me that some clothes are for boys, and some are for girls.

Thank goodness now John Lewis is showing us that gendered clothing should be a thing of the past.The first UK retailer to remove gender labels from its children clothing, the store chain has sacked off not only gender-specific labels but mixed all the clothing together in a section for both boys and girls. Integration is a beautiful thing.

Far more beautiful than a National Trust property gift shop selling pink hats for girls which told them and everyone unfortunate enough to see the hats being worn that the little girls were “[f]uture footballers’ wife [sic].”

Don’t you just love it when girls are encouraged to achieve great things?

Integration is more beautiful too than Gap’s distinction between girls as “social butterflies” and boys as “little scholars” in an advert promoting a new clothing range.

Weird, since girls have made higher grades than boys throughout their school years for nearly a century and, as a generalisation, girls tend to have a smaller group of ‘best friends’ boys tend to have a wider social circle.

In a move away from this gender-lunacy, John Lewis’ labels will read as either “Girls & Boys” or “Boys & Girls.” Pink flowery dresses and t-shirts with trucks on them will still be available – but John Lewis is making the point they both boys and girls can wear them. In fact, a new official unisex range has been launched, including dinosaur print dresses (a relief to me personally because I think dinosaurs are very cool) and spaceship tops.

While I have nothing but praise for John Lewis for this brave and progressive move, certain non-liberals are not best pleased.

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen scoffed, “I have no idea what would possess John Lewis to do this.” (Equality and the erasing of illogical gender presumptions?) “Boys and girls labels are informative. I think removing them could be very confusing for the consumer.” This MP appears both to support damaging gender division, and to insultingly underestimate the common sense of British consumers. Somehow, I think we will manage to decipher whether an item of clothing is appropriate for our children without a label reading “Boys.” More to the point, if a little girl wants to buy a t-shirt with a football on it, she will no longer be confused as to why she isn’t allowed it because of a label that tries to exclude her whole gender from expressing her like of a ‘boy thing.’

Ultimately, those opposing the move need to relax. John Lewis won’t force your son to wear a dress or your daughter to wear a t-shirt with a football on it if they don’t want to.

But they have the option to do so if they want.

Caroline Bettis, the head of children’s wear at John Lewis, said: “[w]e 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.”
It’s a good day for John Lewis and children across the UK who will for the first time not have their identity confined by clothing labels. Just imagine now how good their Christmas advert is going to be.


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