Strides have been made recently in the bid to breakdown gender stereotypes within children’s toys and clothing, with many retailers moving away from the traditional pink for girls blue for boys way of presenting kids products.
But could there be a gender size gap within children’s clothing?
The debate has been fuelled after a Twitter user posted on the social media platform, asking why there was such a big difference in the sizing of Marks and Spencer PJs for a 3-4 year old girl compared to a 3-4 year old boy.
“Just wondering what you think the big difference between boys and girls is that you feel the need to size their clothes so differently?” the post read.
“Both sets of pyjamas in aged 3-4. Why such a difference?”
The poster wrote before adding the #everydaysexism #letclothesbeclothes hashtags.
Hey @marksandspencer Just wondering what you think the big difference between boys and girls is that you feel the need to size their clothes so differently? Both sets of pyjamas in aged 3-4. Why such a difference? #everydaysexism #letclothesbeclothes @letclothesbe pic.twitter.com/sXV1Jv47F5
— Hannah McEwan 🏴 (@Han_McEwan) August 3, 2019
The woman’s post was picked up by Let Clothes Be Clothes, allies of the UK campaign Let Toys Be Toys, which calls on retailers in the UK to stop limiting children to outdated gender stereotypes in the design and marketing of children's clothes.
Since then many others have joined the debate about whether girls clothes should be smaller than boys, with some saying making girls clothes smaller is a form of ‘sexism.’
Sure you’re not just reinforcing the sexualisation of girls, M&S, by making girls’ clothes using less fabric? Is there a price difference to match this difference in fabric use? #letclothesbeclothes #letchildrenbechildren #everydaysexism #patriarchalsociety
— Rebecca Matthews (@RMatthewsPsyEdu) August 3, 2019
At best you are reinforcing gender stereotypes. At worst you are over sexualising 3 year olds.
— Tamsin Leyman (@LeymanTamsin) August 3, 2019
Ridiculous! Fed up of girls clothes being shorter and tighter, it’s no wonder they get body issues from a young age 😡
— Hollyhothair (@Hollyhothair) August 3, 2019
A spokesperson from Marks and Spencer did respond to the original poster’s concerns claiming that three year old girls are smaller than their male counterparts and as a result their clothes are reflective of this.
Hi Hannah, sorry to hear you're disappointed. These pyjamas are different styles and cut differently. We work closely with our suppliers to ensure our kids items fit the average child of that age. 1/2
— M&S (@marksandspencer) August 3, 2019
It does appears that 3 year old girls are smaller than 3 year old boys and we want our items to be reflective of this. 2/2
— M&S (@marksandspencer) August 3, 2019
But Let Clothes Be Clothes also took to Twitter to point out that that store’s own sizing guides has children of both genders as the same size.
— LetClothesBeClothes (@letclothesbe) August 3, 2019
Check science - while there IS a slight variation - it is SLIGHT. Check out the graphs below - Now tell me if the variation in your clothes shown in the pictures is explained by the difference in size for a 3 year old boy/girl?? pic.twitter.com/SyazjS90ch
— Antiqueight (@Antiqueight) August 4, 2019
An M&S spokesperson has since responded to Yahoo UK’s request for comment, saying the following:
"We know customers want choice and so we sell a wide range of lengths, fits and styles in kidswear. In younger children we do work to the same size measurements and customers can access this information on our website.”
Growth charts from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Healthcare (RCPCH) based on World Health Organisation (WHO) Child Growth Standards do appear to show a very slight difference between the weight and heights of boys and girls aged between 3 and 4, with boys being slightly bigger and heavier than girls but it is minimal.
According to Dr Sonal Shah, NHS GP and lifestyle medicine expert though boys genetically have evolved to be bigger than girls, things are changing with better nutrition and same opportunities for boys and girls.
“Yes boys and girls have different growth charts,” she explains. “They also have different growth spurts and rates of growth at different ages. It comes back to other hunter gather days, where men went to hunt.”
She also points out that some children girl or boy may be smaller than others due to their ethnicity.
“For example Asian baby's are overall smaller and some countries will have their own growth charts to reflect this,” she adds.