By Lady Lolita, 28th September 2016

Don’t Brand My Baby

Why Slogan Clothing Is Harming Your Child

Why Slogan Clothing Is Harming Your Child

When I discovered that I was pregnant I chose not to find out the gender of my baby. I wanted a surprise (right, like that was going to be the only surprise about motherhood!). I figured it wouldn’t matter either way what I had, babies were babies and it would take a while for my son or daughter to develop likes and dislikes so I would decorate the nursery in bright primary colours and buy a bundle of baby-grows that would suit both girls and boys. I reasoned that nothing had to be blue and pink, who even decided they were boy and girl colours?

Even though I discovered way down the line (when I ended up having two wonderful daughters two years apart) that in fact you can’t fight the pink, that glitter and Frozen and frilly dresses WILL find you whether you like it or not, I could say that at least I tried to start the first three years of their lives as a blank canvas.

Except I couldn’t… because clothing manufacturers wouldn’t let me.

When it came to buying children’s clothes there was pink or there was blue or there was white, but white was mainly for babies under three months in case you wanted to stock up the ‘I don’t want to know the gender’ wardrobe of your first born. Then after that, it got worse. Cartoon character themed clothing aside, which in some shops (I’m talking to you Primark and supermarkets) accounts for half of the clothes on sale, the majority of what was left was covered in slogans. Nearly every top for girls and boys sported a strong message. Choosing an outfit involved more reading than an English GCSE assignment.

Walking down any high street I’m astounded at how many kids are being decorated on a daily basis as (not even yet walking or talking) billboards, remarks upon their personalities and looks splashed all over them like the gaudy livery of a black cab.

Dont brad my baby

Even my own children are not immune, having been bought clothes proclaiming ‘I’m a Princess’, ‘As pretty as a picture’, ‘I (heart) kittens, unicorns, fairy tales’ and other vacuous bullshit.

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And, of course, they go on to act accordingly.

Do boys get I (heart) anything T-shirts? Nope, they don’t get to walk about with references to their looks or past times emblazoned on their clothing – they get to tell the world about their behaviour and personalities instead. ‘Little Monster’, ‘Big Man’, ‘Watch out, here comes trouble’. Really? You want to advertise that your child is a disruptive little shit before people have even had a chance to get to know him?

When you buy a top for your child that expresses something about them, you are making a statement about your offspring – without their consent. Think about what you are telling the world about your child, that brand new being who hasn’t even had a chance to create a personality for themselves. And consider what you are telling your child about him or herself. It doesn’t matter if they are too young to read, that intention is still printed upon their very person. People looking at your baby are thinking about your child in a certain way (the way YOU have chosen for them to be judged) and projecting those thoughts on to your child in relation to the wording that you chose to display on their chests.

And don’t get me started on camouflage clothes for baby boys. Yay! A son! Let’s kit him out like he’s off to war or likes hunting game in deep dark forests. Cute.

‘Oh don’t get so worked up!’ I hear you cry. ‘It’s just a bit of fun.’
Except it’s not.


The other day I was in H&M with my kids and I battled to find a top that didn’t have butterflies, flowers, pink, baby animals or a reference to a Disney character. My daughter likes Star Wars and Minions – but tough, that was in the blue section. And kittens are cute, but you can’t like them if you are a boy, you have to have monsters, dinosaurs and robots on your top. Or cars. Because boys are better drivers and like destroying things, perhaps? No, I didn’t think so.

If my girls like a film, I want them to get a choice to wear that character if they want – even if it’s Olaf or Chewbacca – without having to forgo the shame of crossing the store to the boys’ side! Mix it up, High Street, have the clothes all together. Who cares? We can then buy whatever we like that fits without our kids feeling like they have to stick to their designated area.

It is a topic that has been discussed widely in media recently – gathering much commentary from both sides. 

GAP has recently been slammed for its latest ad campaign portraying boys as Einsteins and little girls as social butterflies – you know, because when you aren’t as smart as the boys you have to work on your networking skills to get anywhere in life. It may be a nod at US college wear for little ones, they are actually nice enough clothes, but it’s a badly thought out and, dare I say it, psychologically damaging campaign. How about having a top saying ‘Little Genius’ for both sexes? How about just having clothes that fit all kids? It’s not as if body shape is that different between the two until they reach the teenage years!

The concept of ‘let’s make two versions of everything in blue and pink because then we can sell double’ is relatively new. I remember my late 70’s/early 80’s childhood being very red, yellow, green, brown and corduroy. Marketing directly to children was an invention of the early 1990’s and sadly it’s got out of control… and I know I’m not alone thinking this.

Thankfully independent designers are fighting back. Refreshing and socially conscious alternatives to High Street favourites such as the T-shirts by Selfish Mother with her BOY, GIRL and HUMAN tops are become more mainstream (plus a percentage of proceeds go to amazing women and children’s charities). I was pleasantly surprised to also see a nod to the 70’s unisex vibe on Jools Oliver’s Little Bird range for Mothercare, you can’t beat a splash of primary colour and bold fun shapes that say ‘happy’ and ‘child’ without writing the bloody words ‘happy child’ on the top itself.

The bottom line is that I don’t want my children being defined by their clothing or for people to forge opinions of them based on what is written on their chests. I don’t walk about with T-shirts saying ‘I’m an opinionated writer’, ‘Don’t talk to me, I haven’t slept since 2008’ or ‘No, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat’. They may help the unsuspecting stranger that meets me, forewarned is forearmed and all that, but what I do, how I feel and what I look like is no one’s business. I don’t need to advertise my personality on my chest or define myself with a whacky one liner.


Neither do I need to tell everyone my child is pretty (she’s mine, of course she’s gorgeous) or that she’s a little monster. You will know she’s a nightmare because she will be the one running around the store pulling everything off the shelves… maybe I should have bought her a ‘Mummy’s Little Angel’ top instead? Time for a re-brand.

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