baby dress

At least a year ago, maybe two, I started a dress for a friend’s baby. That baby grew faster than I knit, and unfortunately I didn’t finish the dress in time to give it to her. Finally, at long last, it’s done!

(Shan, if you’re reading this, it was supposed to be for Avonlea!)

baby dress

Who says gender isn’t socially programmed, at least somewhat?

As you can probably imagine, when you’re pregnant, your body changes pretty quickly, resulting in the need for new clothes. It’s a sad fact that there are few stylish/comfortable/affordable maternity clothes out there, and don’t even ask about fair trade or anything remotely granola.

So, I have to admit, I’ve made the trip out to big-box-store-land to buy clothes at Old Navy that fit my pregnant bod, don’t break the bank, and don’t look like I’m wearing a sack.

However, last time I was there, I checked out the baby clothes and was very dismayed. This is a onesie marketed for newborn girls, under 7 lbs:

Stripes are Slimming

stripes are slimming

yeah, as if that’s the message you want to send with/to your newborn child!

While the baby “girl” outfits promotted eating disorders and body image issues, the baby “boy” outfits had messages about being smart or macho. Anyway, for a fuller discussion, check out this person’s blog (who beat me to the punch.)

Being pregnant and getting ready to be a parent has really made me think about gender… and it’s confusing and eye-opening!

Even as a self-identified feminist who has studied gender/women’s history, I didn’t fully appreciate how wrapped up we are with gender until I got pregnant.

There’s so much pressure to find out the sex, largely from family members who want to buy appropriate baby gifts! Considering that babies can’t really tell apart colours until they’re about 3 months old, those pink/blue outfits aren’t for the newborn’s benefit; it’s a way to alleviate other people’s discomfort at not being able to immediately tell if someone is female or male (and openly trans? gender-queer? don’t even go there.)

This gender-obsession doesn’t just come from people around me, it’s internal too. I was very excited to find out the sex of the baby, which Paul had been calling “Cletus the Fetus.” (Apparently, it’s a girl, by the way.) Partly this desire to know was fuelled by the fact that sex is one of the only things you can find out about your child. Even if being a girl is not something my kid ends up identifying with, the label will still play a huge part in shaping their life.

While I’ve become more aware of the ways we are socially-programmed to be girls or boys, I’ve also gotten a new appreciation for how much of it is plain-old biology. For me, pregnancy has also shown me in a really physical way that I’m female and has brought out behaviour and traits in me that are “feminine.”

yeah, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all…