A few weeks after my daughter was born me and my mother in law popped into our local Jojo Maman Bebe in a panic.* (Note to future first time mums: when buying clothes for your baby, remember that one day you will probably want to leave the house and for most months of the year a babygrow alone won’t do…)
“Do you have any jumpers?” I asked the shop assistant, feeling a bit daft.
“Is it for a boy or a girl?”
What? It is a bloody jumper. It is for keeping my 3 week old warm. It should be cosy. It should be nice. And for those prices it should probably be of a decent quality. But one thing it shouldn’t be is ‘for a boy’ or ‘for a girl’.
I immediately shot the woman a dirty look and headed straight for the boys section.
Probably not the most grown up response.
Before my baby was born I viewed the gendered clothing debate with a pinch of salt. Don’t get me wrong I shared the news articles, commented angrily on social media posts and vented about how ridiculous the whole thing was in feminist groups. But I also desperately longed for a baby girl (are you allowed to say this? I think I saw on Loose Women that this makes me a Terrible Mother**) and secretly eyed up pretty pink babygrows and dresses in shop windows. Outwardly, yes proud feminist. Inside, conflicted future mum.
But suddenly I genuinely felt angry. Angry that I should even be asked. Angry that foxes and ducks are considered boys but rabbits and elephants are girls. (Does anyone understand this?) But most of all I was angry that I couldn’t choose a bloody jumper without worrying that people would think my baby was a boy.
And the fact this bothered me really pissed me off.
I left the shop with three jumpers, a backwards apologetic smile at the very polite and friendly shop assistant and a renewed determination to buy my baby the clothes I like, ignoring any unnecessary gendering and nagging feelings of feminist guilt.
She’ll only grow out of them anyway.
*Is this the most middle class statement ever?
** Why do I watch this?