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This UK Retailer’s Gender-Neutral Kids Clothing Is Driving the Internet Wild

John Lewis

UK retailer John Lewis has introduced gender-neutral labels for their children’s wear collections, and the controversial decision has divided public opinion. 

Instead of “Boys” or “Girls,” labels on children’s wear will now read ‘Girls & Boys” or “Boys & Girls,” as the store makes a move away from gendered clothing.

One particularly controversial point seems to be that girls are modelling clothes from the line with dinosaur prints on them.

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The chain says it wants children and parents to have a wider choice in clothes, and not to feel constrained by expectations for one gender. 

“We do not want to reinforce gender stereotypes within our John Lewis collections and instead want to provide greater choice and variety to our customers, so that the parent or child can choose what they would like to wear,” said Caroline Bettis, head of children’s wear at John Lewis.

Bettis added that the combined “Girls & Boys” labels were actually introduced for John Lewis’ own label collections in 2016, but the change only seems to have come to light now. 

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The retailer’s website still has separate sections for gendered children’s clothing, but the BBC reports that this is being reviewed. 

Reactions to the decision have been really split, with some heralding it as a great step forward, and others claiming it’s political correctness gone mad. 

A campaign for gender-neutral clothes, Let Clothes Be Clothes, said they were “absolutely thrilled” by the announcement.

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The founder of the group, Cheryl Rickman, told the BBC: “It’s not politically correct to want the best for your child, all they’re doing it removing the label.” 

She added: “My child will buy things from the boys’ aisle but some children have stopped buying clothes from the boys aisle. Removing the ‘this is for boys and this is for girls’ from the labels. It’s saying, you choose, let kids be kids.” 

Many people have been congratulating the store on Twitter for its progressive thinking. 

But others have disagreed with the move.

Piers Morgan, on “Good Morning Britain” on Monday, said: “I have three sons and one little daughter. None of my sons have shown any interest in wearing dresses, and my daughter wears 20 dresses a day. Why can’t we let boys be boys and girls be girls?”

Morgan is also taking flack today on Twitter, after tweeting that he was going to be appearing on the TV show despite having three broken ribs, and using the hashtag #ManningUp. 

People have been tweeting back their own brave and impressive achievements, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and working 80-hour weeks for their entire pregnancies, with the hashtag #WomanningUp.

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Gendered clothing has been a news staple in recent months, with several high street clothes stores attracting criticism for “sexist” clothing lines. 

Mothercare was criticised in August for its latest range, in which girls’ clothes were decorated with slogans such as “Confetti, Glitter, Sparkle”, and “Be your own kind of beautiful” while boys’ clothes had words like “genius” and “My daddy is the cleverest.” 

Clarks was also embroiled in a gender row for its “Dolly Babe” shoes for girls and “Leader” shoes for boys. Meanwhile, Morrisons came under fire in July for featuring slogan T-shirts with “Little man, big ideas” and “Little girl, big smile.”