Why Not Gender Neutral?

by Rebecca Melsky
April 28, 2019

When we announced the launch of Boy, Wonder, some people asked us: “Why a special boy brand? Why not just call it a children’s brand?”

It’s a totally fair question, and it’s also not really a new one. It’s a version of a question we get fairly often at Princess Awesome: “Why not show boys in your dresses? Some boys like dresses, too!”  

Let me address the Princess Awesome question first because the answer to that one informs the answer to why we decided to make Boy, Wonder its own brand.

Imagine you’re scrolling through Facebook: photo of high school friend’s baby, ad for bras, photo of colleague’s trip to Spain, article about political topic of your choice, and then you see a photo of a boy you don’t know wearing a blue and yellow construction trucks dress. You stop. You haven’t seen this before. It’s different. A boy in a dress! That’s awesome! And with trucks! Your son loves trucks. What a cool idea - dresses for boys - with trucks!

Ok, maybe you don’t see Facebook ads for bras as much as I do and maybe that wouldn’t be your particular individual response, but a photo of a boy in a trucks dress might easily be understood as a dress intended to appeal to boys because it has trucks on it. Because as much as we like it or not, trucks are typically thought of as a “boy” thing and primarily only on “boy” clothes.

This is exactly the opposite of what we’re trying to do at Princess Awesome. We started Princess Awesome because we wanted all kids to see trucks, dinosaurs, math, science, trains, and more as just as much for girls as they are for boys. We did that by explicitly putting these topics on clothes usually worn by girls, and we show girls wearing them.

The goal at Princess Awesome is not to make our clothes gender neutral, but to take topics that have been gendered by the world around us and return those topics to neutral by applying them to places where they have been absent in children’s clothing - namely girls’ clothing.

That’s why even as we are thrilled for a boy to wear and love our dresses, we have not shown boys in our photography. And that’s why, when we decided to take the idea of Princess Awesome and apply it to boys’ clothes, we intentionally did not make our new brand gender neutral.

With Boy, Wonder, we want to explicitly say, “Unicorns, cats, colors, and sparkles are for boys just as much as they are for girls.” We want to change the thinking that says otherwise.

If we created one large brand for all of our products, an individual would read their own understanding of gender onto what we offer - just like someone might do with the boy in the trucks dress in their Facebook feed.  “Purple unicorn shirt? For girls. Blue flamingo pants? Also, for girls.” We want to disrupt that reading. We want to deliberately change the traditional, gendered view of the subjects and colors of Boy, Wonder clothes by showing them on clothes worn by boys.

That said, we have been and always will be happy for any kid to wear any of our clothes, and we are committed to making that more clear in our messaging. We will house the Boy, Wonder brand on the same website as Princess Awesome so that anyone can check out with a cart full of whatever clothes their kids want. Because, whether the kids you love are boys, girls, or non-binary, we hope to always have something your kids will adore.

Of course our shirts and dresses can be worn by any child. Just look how cute our two kiddos are here! But while we 100% support boys wearing this shirt, and my son adores his and wears it often - we market it for Princess Awesome because our message is that planes are for girls, too. A similar-type shirt for Boy, Wonder might look equally adorable on a girl, but our point would be pink is for boys, too.

Rebecca Melsky
Rebecca Melsky

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