Gender confusion in the sock department

My kids need socks. I have left it as long as possible before buying them any more, knowing that in the past, no sooner had I bought them, than they outgrew them. Either that, or my three year old son has painted his peel-off nail polish that doesn’t peel-off all over them. However, today was the day where their sock need was great, so I ventured out solo (YES, Grandma is looking after the little monkeys) and headed to Marks and Spencer.

Sock shopping has never been so thrilling. Short, long, fluffy, woolly…..I climbed the stairs to the kids’ department, excited to discover what sock delights the shop had in store for me, thighs burning from all the steps. And then I saw this:

Note the abundance of blue in the “Boys’ Socks” and the pinkness of the “Girls’ Socks”. PINK CENTRAL. And frills. Don’t get me started on frills; my daughter hates them. She can’t talk, but show her frills and she’ll shake her head ferociously. So, back and forth I went between the two displays, trying to find some socks that were a nice balance between very pink and very blue, maybe something with bows but also with dinosaurs on for my son (he loves both) and perhaps footballs and hearts for my daughter. But then my brain started to become confused as to which section I should be looking in; my daughter likes blue. My son likes pink. He also has a penchant for frills, to the annoyance of my daughter. And in fact, it would be nice if they could also sell socks with days of the week in the girls section, not just the boys’ (which seems to be an ongoing theme with many other kids’ clothes shops). Are they telling me that girls don’t need to learn to read?

Alfie’s fondness for pink started early

I started to get so confused that my brain short-circuited and I ended up just buying the pink frilly socks for my son and the football socks for my daughter. I took the socks to the till and obviously the conversation with the cashier went something like this:

“Ah, these socks are so cute. Are they for your daughter?” Pause from me. Can I actually be arsed to explain the awfulness that I am about to inflict on my son? “Actually, they are for my son. He likes frilly things.” LONG pause from cashier. Wait for it….”Oooooh, I guess that’s all the rage these days, trying to make boys play with dolls and stuff…”. I hadn’t mentioned dolls, so that was a bit weird. I let her continue her little rant, paid, and said, “My son’s favourite nail polish is pink. I mean, pink! Can you believe it?” and left.

I suppose my sock day illustrates my annoyance, no; complete exasperation at the way in which stores display and market children’s clothing. Who says pink is for girls and blue is for boys? Or do we the consumers automatically buy what is on offer for whom we are told it is for? And anyway, I’m too sleep-deprived and on too much of a sugar come-down to unravel the message behind the marketing. Just get all the socks, mix them up a bit, and stick them on a shelf that says, “Socks”.

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