Girls don’t jump in puddles


My daughter is three years old. She likes crafting, colouring and anything glittery. She likes reading stories and painting pictures and watching CBeebies.

She also likes jumping in puddles.

It came as a bit of a surprise, then, to see a huge banner on the wall in the kids’ section of a well known shoe store recently. “Because girls love comfort and style, we design both into our shoes” it said. And then, on another wall, “Because boys test their shoes to destruction, so do we”. 

It’s the first time I’ve noticed that particular piece of marketing – maybe they didn’t feature those exact banners in the shop in our former home town. Either way, I was left a bit confused.

Do boys not like style? I know plenty of boys who have clear ideas of what they will and won’t wear, so that doesn’t seem quite right. And do girls not like jumping in puddles, climbing up trees, scooting at the park? I have a little girl who is proof that’s not the case. She loves getting muddy with the best of them.

I’m not having a go at just this one store. I was in the supermarket the other day and looking for a few tops that Frog could wear to pre-school. I didn’t want to pay mega bucks as the chances of her coming home covered in glue or mud are pretty high, but I still wanted them look nice because, well, I’m a sucker for kids’ clothes. I searched high and low and could only find one set of tops that wasn’t pink, or covered in glitter, or featuring some irritating cartoon character. The boys had bright, bold colours – greens, reds and blues. But the girls? My choice was either pink or pink with sparkly bits. I walked out of the shop empty handed.

It’s not that I have a problem with pink. And I don’t have a problem with style being a big factor in girls’ clothes either. But why do we have to assume that boys and girls are so different? I’m well aware that some boys are pretty boisterous and love running around, shouting and getting muddy. But, equally, there are boys at Frog’s pre-school who are quieter, more thoughtful and love to sit next to her while she colours. Likewise, Frog is a huge fan of jumping over waves at the beach and running around at the park. She doesn’t JUST like sitting quietly, wearing pink and decorating paper with glitter.

There are some kids brands out there that really get that. I love Tootsa MacGinty for this very reason. Their clothes are styled for boys AND girls – there is no separate boys and girls section. Their clothes are bright and fun with not a hint of “girls only like pink and boys only like blue”.

I can’t help but wish that some of the high street retailers would follow their lead and offer clothes and shoes (and toys, come to think of it) without the loaded gender stereotypes.

My daughter likes the odd pink thing. Sure, she likes to sit and quietly craft. But she also likes to jump in puddles.

Can’t our kids like both?


  1. Lucy says

    Lego and Nerf have annoyed me for those exact reasons, Lego friends with pink and cupcakes, and Nerf Rebelle with the Heartbreaker bow (shudder). I don’t do gender specific toys, my son has cars and fairy wings and dolls, he gets to choose what he wants to play with, not what boys are ‘supposed’ to play with.

    • says

      Sounds to me like he has a brilliant selection of toys to choose from. Frog is similar – she has a dolls’ house and a farm, fairy wings and trains. Choice is good!

  2. says

    It does feel sometimes like no matter how we bring them up it is still going to be drummed it it them that girls like pink and boys like blue. As it goes Cherry is obsessed with pink, it’s the only colour she ever wants things to be but I don’t mind so much as it’s her choice. If she didn’t want pink then the fact all girls clothes seem to be that colour would annoy me. Unisex clothing companies are a fab idea though and I love some of those jumpers, although they are well out of my price range! I think I am going to struggle more when it comes to J’s clothing as I hate the colour blue, and most of the supermarket / cheaper boys clothes all seems to be in horrible navy blue. Yuk! x

    • says

      It’s a shame there’s not more choice isn’t it? I just hate these blanket statements that “all boys like X” and “all girls like Y”. It’s ridiculous – you may as well say “All people with blonde hair like X” and “Everyone from Manchester likes Y”.

  3. says

    Argh gender stereo typing can be quite frustrating. But it surprises me quite how many PARENTS respond to it… I have a post on “craft for boys”, not because I think they are boy only (quite the contrary), but because I get so many people say to me “oh we don’t do crafts, as I have a boy and boys don’t craft”… say what? Anyway…… My kids are very different. They do conform to gender stereo types, BUT I offer them the same opportunities always. And in my eyes, there lies the difference.

    • says

      That is surprising – and a bit disappointing to be honest. I guess it’s a deep-rooted thing. Parents are responding to age-old stereotypes themselves, probably without even realising it.

  4. says

    I struggle with the opposite! Why do girls get so much choice & for boys it is all so limiting? As for shoes specifically its funny as it is the one thing my wee man is fussy about. The last time we went shopping he was very specific about what he wanted. He is only 2 and a half by the way. I’m going to check out that website you mentioned.

    • says

      I don’t think it’s so much about choice between boys and girls necessarily – it’s more about certain toys and clothes being so clearly marketed towards one sex or the other, with this assumed set of traits, likes and dislikes attributed to each sex. The reality is that not all boys are the same and not all girls are the same – and they will often share many of the same interests. I definitely recommend Tootsa MacGinty. Really lovely clothes without the gender stereotypes!

  5. says

    My daughter (2) is loving jumping in puddles at the moment, I have to get her changed every time we get home. I didn’t really realise how differently things are marketed until I had one of each, and now I see it everywhere. Even things like the plain white school polo shirts – I thought they would both wear the same ones but when buying for my son I noticed that the girl’s ones have little frilly bits on them. Same with the basic plain white PE T-shirts – the girl’s ones have a more ‘feminine’ fit even though at that age they are all the same shape.

  6. says

    And I know it is a bit gender stereotyping myself but things like cartoons being gender specific – like Peppa pig it’s mainly pink stuff (personally I don’t mind my son having pink and he loved Peppa so had a pink bedspread but would have been nice to have had the option).

  7. says

    At The Hooded Towel Co. we supply hooded towels and were thinking of going non- gender specific with one of our ranges. But we have found that the buyers and distributors don’t like this.
    We have made the decision to have a different range on our website ( when it’s complete) and sell our other range through distributors.
    So frustrating what are we doing to our kids. I feel like we are going backwards, in photos from the 70’s it’s difficult to tell who were boys and who were girls brill!

    • says

      Well you’ve found one customer who would happily purchase one of your non-gender specific ranges! It’s not that I have a problem with pink per se, just that it’s not the ONLY colour my daughter likes. Often, she’d rather have green, red or blue!

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