Why Non-gendered Childhood?

We often hear the same question posed by anyone who is new to the concept of ungendered clothing, toys or children's items; "Why?". So we'd like to answer that question with an anecdote from Founder of Every Bean, Nikki Yeager. 

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Before having a son, I always believed sexism was a girls-only problem. I grew up in an extremely supportive environment where my dad allowed me to roll around in the dirt, wear everything from hula skirts to boys' denim jeans and play with cars, dolls or his tool set depending on the day. Looking back on it, I realized that gender was a complete non-issue for my childhood self. Which meant when I started going to school and was told that certain haircuts were meant for boys or certain behavior was too rough, I felt personally insulted. To this day I tend to do things just because people tell me I shouldn't (which drives my father in-law insane). I always refused to allow my sex to determine my behavior, my clothing or my interests. Which is something I thank my father and his child rearing practices for. 

That being said, when I was pregnant, I vowed to raise my daughter(s) in a world without restriction. A world without gender. I promised I'd allow my girls to be people first, girls second from day 1. 

And then I gave birth to an awesome little boy. 

I just assumed it wouldn't be a problem, that early restrictions on  his life would be nonexistent. When we got a mix of hand-me-down newborn clothes from both girls and boys in the family, I happily dressed him in pink leggings and blue baseball shirts. He wore princess printed onesies and shoes with trucks. I never thought about it because he was just a little smooshy baby. He preferred clothing that didn't trip him when learning how to walk and I preferred things that were easy to change. So we ignored the colors and prints and chose based on the practicality of different outfits. Once he became aware of what he was wearing, we started picking clothing on what he gravitated to -- bright colors, patterns, anything weird. The same things all children gravitate towards, regardless of the sex on their birth certificate. 

And we started getting comments from anyone. Everyone. "Why dress him like a girl?", "I wish you would put him in something appropriate!", "I just love it when he looks like a little boy". It was as if before he even learned to talk, he was supposed to learn what our culture required of him as a "male". He was already required to wear a specific uniform even though the word "boy" and "girl" were completely foreign ideas to his yet undeveloped toddler brain. He just wanted to be comfortable and happy. He just wanted to have fun. 

And then I noticed the comments became more than clothing related. When playing with a broom, "You need to hang out with more men!". When joyfully putting my headbands on, ".. I'm sure he'll grow out of that soon. Don't you want this truck?" When behaving badly, "Well, boys are just boys. They're always rough like that, it's ok!"

It started with quiet judgments on the color of his pants, but as he gets older, the judgments are beginning to dictate his behavior. They are designed to limit his exposure to anything that isn't masculine. He shouldn't wear headbands and he should be rowdy. He shouldn't play with cleaning supplies but he should shoot baskets. 

And it makes me mad. It makes me mad, because my child doesn't understand what boys and girls are yet. He doesn't even know there is a difference. He's a toddler, for goodness sake! But everyone is forcing him to behave a certain way, even though everything he does is completely normal. He's just a kid. And sometimes, as a kid, he wants to have a crazy tulle hoop around his waist because it's just so much fun. 

So I created a clothing line for all children. I created clothing for kids, not genders. They have their whole lives to worry about conforming (or not) to societal norms. Why not let them have a childhood of freedom, allow them to wear whatever they want?