The Dinki Human journey began in early 2016, I was overjoyed I was expecting my first child (although already a proud mum to my fur baby French Bulldog Beetlejuice of course!) and was excited to build baby's wardrobe and plan the nursery!
Having worked as a designer for ten years, along with my experience in kidswear I had a pretty clear idea of how I would dress my child and a unisex or gender-neutral way of dressing them was very important to me. As soon as I began my search I was, quite frankly, horrified by the lack of options I had. Choosing to dress your child in unisex clothes isn't as simple as choosing not to dress a boy in blue and a girl in pink, it's about the shapes, slogans and underlying messages.
I wanted to ensure that all Dinki Human products are gender-neutral and prints are designed to be inclusive and empowering - something that was the driving force behind our brand new range launching early 2019!
We all use our personal style to reflect what we're about (in one way or another) so why not let our kids define their own sense of style regardless of their gender (once they're old enough to choose for themselves of course)? The Kids of Generation Alpha are becoming more style conscious, and tastes have evolved, trend researchers call this the "Alpha Aesthetic". And their Millenial parents are beginning to understand that by reinforcing gender stereotypes we restrict our child's choices, and risk deeply affecting their perceptions of themselves. Scientific research has shown us that the brain of a girl or a boy is no different, yet cultural "norms" mould children's brains into thinking that pink is for girls who must be pretty and that football is for boys who must be strong.
The following quote explains gender-neutral parenting in a nutshell;
"Parents who practice gender-neutral parenting strive to grant their kids access to a wide range of choices and experiences by making an effort to avoid labelling things as 'for you' and 'not for you' based on the child’s biological sex."(Dr. Alexandra Solomon)
I recently watched an old BBC documentary (first aired in 2016) "No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?". Dr Javid Abdelmoneim demonstrates the effect gender stereotyping has on kids and also how changes can be made to reverse the damage. The documentary certainly had some scary observations, young girls described their male classmates as "better at being a leader" which gave me chills! But I'm not arguing all children should be raised as gender-neutral in the extreme sense of the term. My daughter is aware she is biologically a girl, she is told she is smart and clever and funny every day, she is exposed to different methods of play and learning and sometimes she wears things that may be a bit "girly". We made the decision before she was born she wouldn't be given dolls and prams, and dressed in pink and bows, and we made her nursery gender-neutral. Now at nearly two years old she has a fixation on dolls and buggys, and also fire engines, trains and her beloved toy taxi. We've learnt that when external childcare is involved we cant control what she plays with, and we're ok with it. Although we wont be buying her those "overtly feminine" toys we're sure there will be a day when she wants to dress up as a princess (instead of her current favourite dress-up outfit, the turtle) and it doesn't mean she wont be able to learn to assert herself as a strong, independent woman in the work place one day.
I would love to have a son one day and he will be dressed in all the clothes his sister wore and lucky for him his sister and his mama love leopard print and unicorns, which are of course gender-neutral. PHEW!
I've linked some interesting articles for further reading below;
Gender neutral parenting - has it gone too far? by Jessica Salter
Should you raise a gender-neutral baby? by Linda Diproperzio
What exactly is Gender Neutral Parenting? by Claire Gillespie