Kiwis fire back over mum's call for Kmart to make clothing labels non-gendered

Photo / Facebook, India Springle

Photo / Facebook, India Springle

Kiwis have hit out at a Wellington mother who started a petition calling for Kmart to make clothing labels non-gendered.

India Springle shared her dismay with the retail store on Facebook and after coming across a "boys" label when buying a dinosaur shirt for her daughter Lola at the Petone store.

"Hey, Kmart ... get with the programme already would you?!", she wrote on Facebook.

"Even my nearly 3-year-old thinks your gender labels are bull ... why the hell are all the cool T-shirt's labelled 'boys', what makes this T-shirt a boys T-shirt anyway?!?

"Girls can only wear a dinosaur T-shirt if it's pink and full of sequins?! Honestly, it is beyond ridiculous, get in the modern world you archaic bunch of fossils."

Writing in her online petition, Springle said that children's clothing doesn't need to have gendered labels.

But Kiwis have since hit out at Springle's petition saying the request is "genderless madness" and that we're encouraging "outrage culture".

"Kmart please don't listen to Springle. I too have a 3-year-old and he can choose whatever t-shirt he likes. And you know what, if he likes a t-shirt in the "girl" section it's no big deal. He cant fricken read the label anyway," one person wrote.

Another said: "Stop this 'genderless madness'. Cut the damn tag off if it's that much of an issue. The kids will see what they like, whether it be in the boys or girls section. They don't read labels anyway."

One Kmart regular said he believes Springle's request is an example of how "outrage culture" has grown over the last few years.

"Out of all the things we need to be addressing like domestic violence, racism, climate change, homelessness and living wages, someone spends the energy setting up a petition to change a franchise's whole way of operating because someone doesn't want to cut a label off or is worried they have to buy a boy's shirt for a girl," he wrote.

"Children don't see labels. We're encouraging an outrage culture if we make a song and dance about every little thing that doesn't suit us in the world. Buy the item, cut the tag, and get on with our lives."

One shopper added: "I buy 'boys' shorts for my daughter at Kmart cause they're longer in the leg, we choose to ignore the label, not get offended about it. Chill out."

Others said Springle should instead lead the way and teach her children it's okay to wear whatever clothing they like no matter which section they're from.

Yesterday, a Kmart spokesperson responded to Springle's petition, telling the Herald the Kmart stores are designed to "assist customers with a convenient shopping experience based on their shopping behaviour".

A current retail worker weighed in on Springle's idea, saying changing the labels would be a logistical nightmare and customers would have a hard time finding the appropriate clothing for their child.

"I work in retail and do you know how bloody confusing that would be for companies? The stock would get so messed up."

Another responded to the retail worker's view, saying it would be a nightmare for parents to select the right fit since boys and girls' clothing cuts are different.

"Let's stop labelling boys and girls underwear. Do you also want to explain why the boys may suddenly feel 'restricted' or why the girls feel 'saggy' when they buy the wrong underwear since it's not gender-specific?

"Or, shall we explain why the size 8 men's shoes a lad just bought suddenly don't fit because they're a lasses size 8?

"Shall we simply bend to your will and demands because you're a mother with an opinion and we shall all listen to you?"

Photo / Facebook, India Springle

However, some parents supported Springle's views based on their own experiences.

One father said he doesn't want his daughter falling into the marketing stereotyping trap and having her believe she shouldn't be wearing something that's not in the girl's sections.

"As the dad of a 3-year-old girl I understand what she is getting at. We actively avoid gender-specific clothes and toys. Not that we want to bring her up without a gender, that's at a bit over the top, but we don't want her to be limited in what she wants to like or do based on marketing stereotypes.

"We don't fill her world with pink sand sparkles, pink is one of many colours and sparkles have their place but that's not everywhere. She loves dinosaurs, sharks, pirates, unicorns, blue and bright colours. We let her pick what she wants to wear at shops from either the boys or girls section."

Another added: "I think gendered clothing is more for the body shapes of more developed humans, not children. Maybe gender-neutral clothing for kids would be a good thing.

"For example, if girls like clothes that are the colour blue with trucks and dinosaurs on them, etc, they might think they are misfits because they aren't 'boys' like the label says."

One person who signed the petition said: "gender is a construct we need to leave behind".

"Children, in particular, need the freedom to explore themselves without pressure to conform. Oh, and girls like more than just pink, damn."

Springle has since hit back at criticism admitting there are "bigger things going on in the world" but sticks by her petition.

Taking to social media, she said it's "important to allow our children to wear whichever clothes they choose and not feel shame or stigma because that piece of clothing has been assigned a specific gender."

She says she has received hate messages online following her post but it won't deter her from spreading the importance of gender-neutral labels.

Springle's petition, which aims to secure at least 200 signatures, currently has 112 backers.

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.