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Everyone knows that there are glaring differences between girls’ clothes and boys’ clothes. It’s no secret. Stores keep them in different sections, after all! As a feminist and a queer person, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about gender inequalities for both adults and children.


When I finally became a parent myself, I was determined to give my own child more freedom and more options. I would not dictate what he was “allowed” to wear based on what was between his legs. I prepared myself to offer him boy clothing, girl clothing, as well as more neutral clothing, and let him decide what was best for him over time.

I also prepared myself to deal with the inevitable push-back my family would receive in our gender stratified society.

Yet, just like with basically everything else about parenting, thinking about it beforehand couldn’t possibly prepare me for some of this stuff. As my son and I have entered the world of kid clothes together, I’m continually surprised by how heavily gendered it all is, and the weird ways that manifests.

The clothes fit differently, even in the same size

This was the first thing I noticed that really threw me for a loop. When my kid was a newborn wearing hand-me-downs from a variety of friends and family members, the clothing was heavily gendered, but it was the same stuff underneath. In other words, while each brand offered the usual pinks and blues, a six-month onesie was a six-month onesie.

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Sure, one had an airplane on it and the other had a kitten wearing a leopard print dress (who comes up with this stuff?), and the girls’ option might also feature weird ruffles around the sleeves, but that was it. I could say “my kid is wearing twelve-month clothes right now,” and that would remain true, whether we were talking about girls’ clothes or boys’ clothes.

But at some point, that stopped being the case. Once you reach a certain size in many brands (I’ve noticed this particularly with Carter’s and Old Navy, but there are others), clothing intended for boys and the same clothing intended for girls are wildly different sizes.

These days, my child wears a 2T in Old Navy boys’, but if you want to get anything from the girls’ section (he loves sparkles, so sometimes we do), you’re better off choosing a 3T.

Now I know what you’re about to say: little boys are often a bit bigger than little girls. That would make total sense to me, if it weren’t for the fact that the size charts don’t reflect it. I’ve checked them. According the data feeding U.S. size charts, 2T should mean the same thing regardless of which gender we’re talking about, both in pounds and height. The clothing companies disagree.

This means, of course, that if you’re buying clothes according to the chart and according to your child’s gender, your little girls will constantly be in clothing that’s just a little bit too snug.

The garments are often cut differently

In addition to these sizing issues, the shape of clothing for male and female toddlers are completely different even though, at this age, boys and girls are shaped more or less the same. This one has an easy explanation: They’re cut that way to mimic the clothing of male and female adults.

For me, that doesn’t make it any less troubling. Men and women are independent individuals, they have the ability to search for the clothing they want, and their clothing options are at least to some degree based on sexual expectations. A four-year-old doesn’t need to be dressed in what society views as sexy for a 22-year-old.

Why is it that a long sleeve t-shirt from the boys’ section is square and boxy with loose sleeves that allow for plenty of movement, and the same item from the girls’ section has tight sleeves, a plunging neckline, and might even be cinched at the waist?

The necklines in and of themselves pose a huge problem, especially in the wintertime. No toddler needs a shirt cut so low that you can nearly see their nipples, and all that exposed skin gets cold.

The unexpected symbolism of gendered clothing

Princesses are for girls and superheroes are for boys. You knew that already, and if you’re a progressive parent, you’ve probably thought about how ridiculous it is more than once. But the reality is that those big, glaring, differences are just the tip of the iceberg.

Pink and blue might be the easiest things to rail against, but they’re far from the only things that serve as gender markers for our children. Smaller, more insidious, differences are everywhere. And I wonder if some of them might be, well, worse.

A few months back, we received a bunch of handed down clothing all at the same time. Most of it was from boys, so there was a lot of gray and dark blue, but there was also one box of cast offs from a three-year-old girl. One afternoon, while my wife was at work, the kid and I put all the new/old clothes in a heap and sorted through them. He reached into the giant pile of fabric and pulled out a pair of gray tights covered in multi-color hearts. He was instantly in love with them. In fact, he wanted to wear them every day.

This got me thinking about symbolism and gender in a brand new way. We know that our culture expects women and femmes to do the vast majority of emotional labor. What I realized on that day is that clothing intended for little girls is often covered with symbolism promoting that very labor.

Clothing for little boys? Not so much. A heart is an organ we all have, and all children have emotions and need to learn to deal with them. Yet, a heart is a gendered symbol. Little boys get trucks and superheroes and trains and dinosaurs, and all sorts of fun stuff on their clothes…but you’ll be hard pressed to find a boy’s shirt with a heart on it.

Little boys are being told, from a very young age, that feelings don’t matter, or at least shouldn’t matter to them. They’re learning that feelings are for girls alone.

Even the edging on garments are heavily gender coded

Remember earlier when we were talking about onesies? I said the boys’ onesies and girls’ onesies were the same, right? Well, that’s only partly right. I had expected to see onesies for girls with kittens and pink flowers, and onesies for boys with frogs riding motorcycles. I was more or less ready for that, but I wasn’t ready for decorative edges.

The edging for a piece of clothing intended for a boy was plain, but for a girl, it never ever was. Starting in newborn sizes, a multi pack of onesies labeled “girl” featured teeny-tiny bows made of teeny-tiny ribbons with scalloped edging around the neck and sleeves. Baby pants for boys were simple and utilitarian. Girls’ pants featured ruffles or lace around the ankles.

In larger sizes, the trend continues. Girls get ruffles and lace, tiny decorative details constantly differentiating them from their male peers. And while I have nothing against a cute pair of jeans with lacy trim (I’d wear it!), I do wonder about the prevalence of such details. To have nearly all of your clothing – or absolutely none of it – adorned with decorative edging for as long as you can remember is a very particular experience.

The quality of the fabric often differs

I’m going to be honest. Other parents warned me about this one, and I just did not believe them. I’ll repeat, friends of mine who were already parents told me about a marked quality difference between girls’ clothes and boys’ clothes. I thought they were full of crap.

Why? They were mostly the parents of male children, male children who loved “girly” things, and yet they kept putting those children in masculine attire. The pressure to force children to gender conform is enormous, and so when I heard “the boys’ stuff is just higher quality,” I unfairly assumed that some of those parents were grasping at straws.

But let me tell you something. The boys’ stuff is higher quality. The fabrics are thicker, sturdier, and longer wearing. The clothing is less flimsy. It’s also just plain warmer. Shopping for my son on the cusp of winter last year inspired my mother-in-law to say “don’t little girls get cold?”

I’m sure they must! And when they do, their parents have the option of handing them a thin, useless cardigan, or braving the boys’ section for an actual sweater.

Treating children in markedly different ways according to gender lines definitely affects them later down the line. The question is how much, and in which ways. What does it mean for our children if the clothes we put on their bodies – long before they’re able to articulate their own wishes in that department – are so drastically and utterly gendered?

I don’t have all the answers, but the questions continue to unsettle me.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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If there's one item that people claim is *so* worth the price-tag, it's a Dyson vacuum. The cordless tools have become essentials in homes, cleaning up messes quickly, all without the hassle of a cord.

If you've avoided purchasing one because of the high cost, you're in luck! They're having a sale on Amazon right now. Some of the most popular vacuums and air purifiers are up to 40% off.

Dyson Cyclone V10 Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, $379.99

dyson vacuum on sale

Arguably the most popular of the Dyson family, and marked down 20%.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Beyoncé's new Netflix documentary Homecoming hit the streaming service today and gives us an honest look at how difficult her twin pregnancy was.

"My body went through more than I knew it could," she says in the film, revealing that her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi was a shock right from the beginning, and the surprises kept coming.

In the film she reveals that her second pregnancy was unexpected, "And it ended up being twins which was even more of a surprise," she explains.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix

The pregnancy was rough. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia, a condition that impacts about 5 to 8% of pregnancies and results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia poses risks to both the mother and the baby. People who are pregnant with multiples, like Beyoncé was, are more at risk to develop preeclampsia, and the only real cure for the condition is to give birth, which proved to be another medical challenge for Beyoncé.

"In the womb, one of my babies' hearts paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section," she shares in the film.

Thankfully, Beyoncé made it through her extremely difficult pregnancy, but the physical challenges didn't end there. The road to rehabilitation for the performer was difficult because, as she explains, she was trying to learn new choreography while her body was repairing cut muscles and her mind just wanted to be home with her children.

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"There were days that I thought I'd never be the same. I'd never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same," Beyoncé recalls.

We know that becoming a mother changes us in so many ways, and in Homecoming, Beyoncé shows the world the strength that mothers possess, and rejects any ideas about "bouncing back."

Becoming a mother is hard, but it is so worth it, and Beyoncé isn't looking backward—she's looking at a mother in the mirror and loving who and what she sees. "I just feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I'm not even trying to be who I was," Beyoncé said in the documentary. "It's so beautiful that children do that to you."

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Warmer weather is finally here, mama—and that means it's time to switch up the family's wardrobes. 🙌 If you love matching with your little, or are determined to *finally* get those family photos made this spring or summer, we're obsessed with these mommy and me matching sets.

Here are some of our favorite mommy and me matching outfits for spring. 😍

1. Ivy City Co Jumpsuits, $42.00-$62.00

mommy and me matching jumpsuits

This linen set is perfect for transitioning from hanging out at home to dressing up for days out. Plus, plenty of space for growth!

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2. Madewell x crewcuts Denim Set, $55.00 and up

mommy and me matching denim set

We're obsessed with the '90s vibes these sets give. Now to decide which to choose—denim jacket, shorts, or dress?

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3. Old Navy Floral Midi Dresses, $10.00-$22.50

Old navy mommy and me matching dresses

Nothing says spring quite like florals. The whimsical prints are dainty and the rayon fabric is breathable for those warmer days. Shop mama's version here.

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4. PatPat Matching Family Swimwear, $19.99 and up

matching family swimwear

Match with the entire family with this pinstripe set. We love the one shoulder look, too!

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5. Keds x Rifle Paper Co Sneakers, $44.95-$79.95

mommy and me matching shoes

Twin with your little in these embroidered canvas sneakers. Bonus points for a rubber outsole so no slipping. 👏Shop the version for mama here.

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6. Lily Pulitzer Shift Dresses, $58.00-$198.00

Lilly pulitzer matching dresses

Still not sure what to wear for Easter or that summer soirée? Pick up these matching shift dresses for the most beautiful family photos. Shop mama's version here.

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7. Maisonette x marysia Swimwear, $57.00 and up

Mommy and me matching swimwear

These are definitely splurge-worthy, but we can't get over how adorable they pair together.

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8. PatPat Gingham Dresses, $17.99-23.99

mommy and me matching gingham dresses

These will be your go-to pick for every outing this spring and summer.

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9. Old Navy Striped Oxford Shirts, $13.00-$22.00

matching striped oxford shirts

A relaxed oxford is a staple in everyone's closet. It's versatile enough to dress up or pair with denim for a more laid back look. Shop mama's version here.

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10. Pink Chicken Garden Dress, $72.00-$198.00

pink chicken matching garden dress

Whether you have a spring wedding to attend or want something flowy to wear for vacation, we adore these garden dresses. Bonus points for working for maternity wear, too.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Being a perfectionist has naturally been part of who I was since as long as I can remember. I could blame living in the continental U.S., where perfectionism is highly esteemed, or the family dynamics that come with growing up in a household of five women.

Deep down, though, I think it all really stems from a deep and instinctual longing to be loved, accepted and approved. Whatever the reason, it has never really been a part of me that I considered a problem.

That is, until, I became a mom.

When I had my first child, I did the best I could to keep it all together, to prevent people from seeing how my perfection was being pulled apart at the seams.

A nap schedule was, of course, essential. My son was easygoing and slept through the night like an angel baby. My house was still spotless and I managed to somehow work part-time and keep healthy meals on the table every night, but I did struggle tremendously with breastfeeding.

Since I took this failure as a great assault at my abilities to properly nurture my child, I let mom guilt run rampant over the issue. I decided I would just step up my perfect-parenting game in another way by pumping breastmilk around the clock until my son was around 18 months old.

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For anyone who has ever exclusively pumped, you know it can become total madness and take away the joy of feeding your child.

Managing a toddler was definitely wild, but with my background in pediatrics, I knew how to keep him busy while I kept things "under control." In other words, with just one child, I could still play the part of being perfect. All was fine until I became a mom of two children. It wasn't long after my daughter was born that I realized I needed to start letting go of perfection.

I was living alone in a new city with no help and my husband worked long hours. Managing a 2-year-old and a newborn, all while trying to keep a perfectly clean house and healthy dinners on the table every night, was, to my surprise, impossible in every way. My body was a wreck, not "bouncing back" as it did with my first. My daughter never slept for more than three hours until she was over a year old. She cried for hours on end most nights, as I tried relentlessly to calm her.

I remember bouncing her in her carrier for hours trying to get her to calm down and settle in for sleep. Meanwhile, I was a zombie and my son tore every square inch of the house into pieces. Keeping a naptime schedule was nearly impossible with another child to consider. Dinner was often takeout. There were days when I didn't look in the mirror or have proper clothing on until 5 pm.

The demands of motherhood laughed at my idea of picture-perfect motherhood. Every night I went to bed feeling like I had failed my children. I cried. Oh man, did I cry.

It wasn't long until I came to the realization that if I wanted to be a good mom, that is, to focus on things that are actually important, I had to stop sweating all the small stuff.

Even though I didn't really know how I was relieved that I didn't have to keep up with myself anymore. I had grown so weary of the high standards I had set for myself and those around me. I wanted a way out of the perfectionist trap and to loosen the reigns.

I realized that the most beautiful encounters with my children had been when I decided to say, "Oh, don't worry about it!" (i.e. the house, dinner, naptime schedules, etc). Love and joyful encounters with my children was incomparable to the latter. I knew my children needed me to look at them and not the 3-day- old stain on the dining room floor. The beauty in the moments, when I intentionally chose stillness and gratitude over productivity, was the reason I decided it was time to lay down a life-long pattern of perfectionism and control.

The problem was, I didn't really know where to start. I had been living this way for more than three decades. But I did know that I needed to start somewhere. So I started practicing being imperfect. Just like I had been teaching my 4-year old son. "The only way to get better at something is by practicing," I would tell him.

So, I did. And so I still am, practicing being imperfect.

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