‘Princess Awesome’ mothers cutting gender stereotypes out of kids clothing

WATCH ABOVE: Two mothers decided they’d had enough of gender stereotypes when it comes to kids clothing. As Aarti Pole reports, they’re designing a whole new future.

You are what you wear. That’s the philosophy behind a new clothing line created by a pair of moms in the Washington, D.C. area.

Rebecca Melsky and Eva St. Clair are trying to address gender inequality in kids clothing stores and change the shopping landscape for young girls. They’re taking things into their own hands — one stitch at a time.

“All kids like all sorts of things,” said Melsky. “So then when you start noticing… the only animals on girls clothes have pearls and hats and are wearing lipstick, or there’s all this stuff for girls that really doesn’t show all the stuff girls like to do…it is surprising.”

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“A lot clothes are like this… pink and flowers, pink and flowers, pink and flowers,” ” she said holding up some samples from her daughters wardrobe.

Melsky and St. Clair said girls and boys are told what they “should” or “shouldn’t” like by clothing manufacturers.

“A lot of children really like to express themselves in their clothing,” St. Clair told Global News. “So when a child has an interest that they can’t wear, it’s subtly a way of telling them that they’re not really supposed to have that interest.”

The moms found a way around buying stereotypical girls clothes. They created their own clothing line called Princess Awesome. The girls’ dresses they’ve created have dinosaurs, robots, and mathematical symbols. The clothing line’s inspiration is just a bedroom away.

“I like the colour of the dinosaurs,” said 4-year-old Eloise Melsky. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is her favourite.But, she’s not the only one who likes the idea of the dino-dress.

A Kickstarter campaign confirmed there was demand to expand the horizons of girl’s fashion. Melsky and St. Clair started with a goal of $35,000, but were blown away when the campaign raised $215,000. They said there’s lots of international interest in the Princess Awesome clothing line too.

Some of the fabrics for the collection will be printed in Quebec, by Montreal-based company, Delyla. Some of the potential customers – are also Canadian.

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Victoria, B.C. mom Raina Delisle has perused their online collection.

“I think Princess awesome is awesome,” she said. “They’re really making an important conversation around gender stereotypes in children’s clothing and toys.”

Last Halloween, Delisle raised concerns about suggestive costumes for young girls while shopping for her 4-year old daughter, Ocea.

She said the boys’ costumes were the “real deal,” but the girls’ costumes were sexy, fake versions. For example, a firefighter costume for boys had a bright red jacket, traditional helmet, and axe. The girls version? A short, shiny dress with heeled, calf-high boots. After she flagged the issue, the costumes were pulled.

“Ocea’s second favourite shirt is one with a horse on it. She puts that shirt on and becomes an equestrian for the day or a cowgirl. So, I absolutely think it gets people thinking [and] it gets children thinking about becoming what’s on their shirt.”

The creators of Princess Awesome say that’s exactly their point.

“what we’re saying is that girls should get the message and boys should get the message that all kids like all things and they should have access to all those things in their clothes and toys and everything.” The first order of dresses that aren’t pink with flowers – is set to be shipped out this July.

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