By Lea Z. Singh |
This past December I was looking for a sweater for Jonah, and found a nice knit sweater at Loblaws. The back looked perfect for church, but turning it over I was shocked at the huge black skull and crossbones emblazoned across the front. Do parents actually want their four-year-olds to wear that in public?
In fact, last season Loblaws was going quite wild with the skull and crossbones theme, it was on almost every article of their toddler boy clothing. And Loblaws is far from alone in this freaky obsession with skulls. I've seen it in almost every big store (check out this, this, this, this and this). Skulls have surprised me on the most innocuous and otherwise decent articles of clothing. Just this week, my mom bought some nice socks for Jonah as a present. After he had put them on, we found small skulls integrated into the design.
Enough already! Throughout history, pirates have been thieves and often killers. What is so great about that? Johnny Depp might have glamorized piracy in the Pirates of the Caribbean series (thanks, Disney) but even there I fail to see good role models, and just look at the real world: for instance, the piracy that is rampant off the West Coast of Africa, where "Many attacks end up with crew members injured or killed." Why are we encouraging our boys to think of pirates as heroes? It's like trying to convince them that they should aspire to becoming criminals.
What's more, skulls symbolize more than just piracy; they also stand for death. When you think about it, skulls and crossbones are a very morbid image. They make me think of that phrase, "Culture of Death." Seeing skulls on children's clothing really does seem like some twisted celebration of death. It is so wildly inappropriate for everyday children's clothing that is gives me chills.
Skulls are the worst of it. My second pet peeve on boy clothing is ugly monsters, which are also very popular. Do other little boys really want to wear this stuff? I know that mine does not, he finds these images just as unpleasant as I do.
What a contrast with girl clothing! You sure won't find skulls and crossbones on clothing for little girls (though you will find a lot to be disturbed about in the freakish Monster High doll and toy line). When I shop for my girls, all I can see is glitter everywhere, and images of flowers, hearts, pretty girls, kittens, and other cutsey stuff. I don't believe in social conditioning of genders, but if it were true that boys and girls can be brainwashed to act in certain gender-scripted ways, then our clothing would sure be doing a good job of reinforcing the stereotypes.
If my magic wand could fix it all, I would poof all skulls back to Halloween. Boy clothes would have a lot more variety, including Thomas the Train pictures of many of the other engines (why is it always Thomas?). And of course, stores would never be sold out of size 4.
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