A new online petition is calling on retailers to stop separating boys and girls clothing in stores across Australia.
The campaign calls for an “inclusive kids’ section” that combines all clothing so that parents and children can “choose exactly what they like without arbitrary boundaries”.
The online petition which has attracted over 200 signatures, was created by Sarah Rogers asking for Kmart kids clothing to be separated by type rather than whether it’s designed for boys or girls.
“It’s time for you to stop classifying children’s clothing by gender,” the petition reads.
“Replace this with one kids’ clothing section, organised by type (e.g. skirts in one area, jeans in another, t shirts in a third, etc.).”
“Young children are told which colours, clothing styles and even interests they are permitted to have through the choices they have available in their respective gender’s clothing department,” the petition reads.
She goes on to add, “Many parents of young boys will tell you their son loves pink, rainbows and flowers but simply cannot wear clothes in these styles like girls do without taking them from the girls’ section, which sends them a strong message that the things they like are “wrong”. Similarly, many parents of girls lament the lack of dinosaurs, trucks, and non-frilly styles in the girls’ section.
“This is a problem that has already been addressed by many smaller and independent retailers, who have done away with “girls” and “boys” sections entirely, in favour of an inclusive children’s one. It is time for Australia’s biggest retailers to follow suit.
“Nobody really believes that boys’ interests are limited to cars, diggers, dinosaurs and sharks. Nobody honestly thinks girls only like rainbows, flowers, unicorns and ice cream. Nobody reasonably considers certain colours to belong exclusively to a certain gender.
“Enough. Get rid of the gender separated clothing sections, and let kids choose exactly what they like without arbitrary boundaries.”
A Kmart spokesperson has told 7NEWS.com.au, “At Kmart, we are proud to offer customers a wide range of children’s clothing in lots of different styles and it’s certainly not our intention to stereotype children based on gender,” adding that the “store layout reflects a majority of the way our Kmart customers shop”.
“Additionally, we celebrate inclusion and diversity within our marketing campaigns, product packaging and online.”
Public reaction to the petition
The petition has attracted a very mixed response with one supporter describing the boys and girls sections at Kmart specifically as “frustrating”.
“There is nothing more frustrating than shopping for clothes for my toddler and only finding pink and frills in the ‘girls’ section and grey and blue and trucks in the ‘boys’ section,” they said.
“Can we just get a spectrum of colour and images and phrases and sayings for ALL kids please?”
Another wrote, “I signed because my son loves wearing pink and purple, but there is no such clothing in the boys section, and he’s too self conscious to buy from the girl’s section. I tell him there’s no such thing as girl and boy colours, that he can wear what he likes, but Kmart -you are telling him that there is. Let’s not restrict children to draconian gender stereotypes.”
“I don’t know why they have ‘boy’ ‘girl’ printed on the actual label in the product. I got my daughter a blue winter jacket, it has ‘boy’ in the label. Not everyone likes pink jackets! Also, I have a tall daughter, the cut of the girls jackets/tops are shorter than the boys – nobody likes a cold bum in winter! Come on Kmart.. it’s not hard to mix it up and just print one set of labels – Kmart kids! Easy,” said another parent.
Another wrote, “I signed so that little kids don’t have to feel like there’s boundaries that stop them from wearing what they want.”
Another shopper said she preferred having the kids’ sections separated into different genders.
“Many of us prefer the boys’ section and girls’ section separately – easier to find what you want than have it all mixed together,” she said.
“If your little girl wants to wear boy clothes, do it, and if your little boy wants to wear girls’ clothes, do it.
“Having them in different sections and getting your child an outfit from a certain section different to their gender does not send a ‘strong message’ that the things they like are ‘wrong’.”
A 10 News Facebook poll saw the majority of people voting against the move. 2000 NO to 100 YES and 300 laughing emojis.