TikToker @ericasaysstuff recently sent out a call to fathers of daughters to share when they realized sexism is real. Michael Vaughn, one such dad, had his video about the realization go viral.
In his video, he says:
“It was 100% the clothes. And I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn’t know how bad. And then we got a onesie for our daughter that says: ‘Sorry, boys, dad says no dating’ — sized for a newborn. I guess I’m wondering who they thought was going to date our 0-month-old daughter. But, all the girls clothes are remarkably annoying for so many reasons…”
“…Why does everything have ruffles, why is everything hyper-pink, what does everything have glittery? Why can’t I just find a one-piece bathing suit for my daughter? Why are girl clothes smaller than boy clothes when they’re the same size? Like, I don’t get why boys get normal shorts and my daughter gets shorts with an inseam of negative two. Like, we legit buy boy pants for our daughter because girl pants are sausage casing leggings. I’m not squeezing a baby back into sausage casing every single diaper change. So, it was 100% girl clothes. Girl clothes are the worst?”
Michael told Buzzfeed about his and his partner’s experiences shopping for their daughter.
“It’s important to Kelly and me that our daughter be raised free from as much toxic influence as possible, and that influence started before she was even born. I don’t think it should be this difficult to find what I’d call platonic clothing for children. Not to speak in absolutes, but the clothes we buy our daughter that were intended for boys consistently fit comfortably, are more durable, and aren’t see-through. The clothes we’ve found that were intended for girls are usually snug to the point of being form-fitting (even in the same size), cover less, and feel pretty flimsy in terms of quality. There’s no reason for it,” he told Buzzfeed.
“I recognize I’m not the first person to have this thought. Women and moms have been saying this for a long time. There are plenty of dads on TikTok, but a good number focus on jokes or playing out the clueless dad stereotype. Part of my motivation is to be a dad who is both a competent parent and partner. This includes doing my best to be an ally to women, and that means speaking up on important topics like this to leverage the privilege I have in case it brings more weight to an issue.”
“Anything about dating or dad protecting his daughter’s virginity goes far beyond the realm of normalcy for me. Some people think they’re just jokes, but I can’t find a single good reason to sexualize a baby like that. The boys shirts and onesies were just as bad (like ‘Boob man’ or ‘Ladies, please, one at a time’). These toxic mindsets start at a very young age, and have long-ranging and long-lasting impacts on girls’ self-image.”
Vaughn expressed further frustration with buying clothing for his daughter.
“The most disturbing observation I’ve made is that it’s very easy to find clothes for girls that are revealing, and that’s not true for boys clothes. I don’t believe this is an accident. From the moment they’re very little, this is just one way society reinforces the toxic mindset that female bodies are intended to be displayed, and it conditions young girls to think objectification is normal.”
“Even the CDC’s own growth charts show the average 3-year-old girl and boy are only about a half inch and half pound apart in size. You know what I want: Clothes that don’t have sayings that sexualize babies and children. Clothes that fit boys and girls the same when the size matches. Clothes that come in gender-neutral color options as a standard. And I want dinosaurs and functional pockets for my daughter. She deserves dinosaurs and functional pockets,” he explained.
“To other parents raising daughters: You’re not the only parent who feels this way. Your concerns are valid. Just read through the comments in the video. The cool thing is you’re the parent, which means you get to be involved in what they’re exposed to, how they’re exposed to it, and how they learn to process and challenge those influences. This also means you get to set an early standard about what matters, like their talents and interests. In other words: Positive things that help define them that don’t involve their appearance.”
Users agreed with Vaughn, citing annoyance with how children are sexualized very young — even when they are just playing with friends.
Sky Lights wrote, “‘Oh look, Tommy and Veronica are playing together, they’re married!’ No. They are children. Children.” Vaughn replied, “[25 years later] I have no idea why my son can’t have platonic friendships with women.”