I was in Old Navy the other day in the extremely tiny Maternity and Baby section (because who doesn’t have enough maternity pants? I didn’t buy anything though) when I noticed the what was possibly the cutest and the saddest thing ever.
The cutest: A tiny Superman onesie.
The saddest: An identical pink version of the same onesie, only for girls.
(BTW, I know these are not identical. Also that the first is a onesie and the second is a shirt. It was surprisingly difficult to find pictures of the ones I saw in the store online and this was the closest I could get. Trust me, they were identical in every respect, only one was pink. And sparkly.)
You know, it is pretty much impossible to tell if a baby is a boy or a girl without checking what’s in its diaper. And babies themselves could not care less about gender, since they have trouble with understanding such basic concepts as “hungry”, “tired”, and “the difference between self and not-self”. The only reason that baby clothes are so absurdly gendered – and they are, they really are – is that a lot of adults have a hard time relating to anyone whose gender is unclear. (If you don’t believe me, talk to the transgender people discriminated against by a farmer’s market in London, Ontario. Hometown pride!) So boy babies have to wear blue and girl babies have to wear pink and little useless headbands (they don’t have hair, people) and get their ears pierced, just so your casual passerby will know that you’re carrying around a little Supergirl and not a Superboy.
And for the record I like cute things, and I don’t mind pink or anything, though I don’t wear it often as it doesn’t go with my colouring, and if I have a girl she will certainly have little pink outfits. There’s nothing wrong with cuteness or girliness or pinkness. But I don’t see why an already unbelievably adorable object needs to be girlified and sparklified, if not to pander to adult gender anxieties. And I think it’s kind of sad that we as a culture have a hard time just dressing up our little girls like superheros, instead of sparkly pink superheros, or that we can’t dream of putting our boys in sparkly pink. Because I can’t think of a single good reason why this should be, but enough people must have thought of at least one for Old Navy to have come up with gendered superhero onesies for newborns.