In the United States, we talk about the unrealistic body standards set for teenagers and young women. This is something most of us are aware of.
But when does it start?
Recently I was weeding through hand-me-downs and found that pants in a size 3T could either fit my little one perfectly, or would pool around his ankles and fall off his hips. Chalking it up to the seemingly arbitrary sizing of children's clothing, I ignored it.
But after a few more outfits, a trend emerged. The pants manufactured for girls fit his skinny legs perfectly, the pants made for boys, were at least six months from fitting. What gives?
So I took to the stores to do some digging. And guess what I found? Not only are girls pants skinnier, they are much lower cut.
Take for example, these Carter's pants I took from the first page of their bottoms for each gender.
Not so bad, right? Now let's look at just how different they are.
Not only is the crotch of the boys' pair much longer, which means the girls' pair is much lower cut (and assuming a 2T child is still in diapers, any argument about sexual anatomy goes out the window since every potty training tot is bulky in the crotch), but the legs themselves are much skinnier than their male counterpart. Any argument about pants being made for biologically smaller girls vs. larger boys is moot considering the manufacturer opted for the same length. Meaning, the girls are expected to be skinnier, whereas the boys are expected to be wider. The girls aren't actually meant to be smaller overall or else the pants would be shorter.
It's such a tiny thing (ha, get it? Tiny.), but the fact that we're already making clothing for infants and toddlers that signals that girls should be thin and boys should be fluffy, is a little bit odd. Toddlers are all pretty much shaped the same. They have those weird protruding bellies above soft little legs. To shape clothing into what we believe as an "attractive" body type for adults is silly.
Manufacturers and retailers, let's do better. Let's figure out what's practical for pants and take the genders away. Got a skinny legged kid? Great, here are some skinny legged pants. Got a kid who needs to layer for a freezing winter? Awesome, here's some baggy bottoms that can easily accommodate leggings underneath. Not small pants for girls and big pants for boys.