Laying Down the Lawton Andrew Lawton

Laying Down the Lawton Andrew Lawton

If Celine Dion has her way, the children of the world will “be free and find their own individuality through clothes.” Clothes that pretty much look alike and are all the same colour, that is.

The pop diva launched a gender neutral children’s clothing line last month, Celinununu, which supposedly “breeds equality and freedom of spirit, serving as a platform for a new humanistic education.”

Ah to be a kid again. I remember when my parents were plying me with shirts depicting firetrucks and comic book characters; I wasn’t having any of it. “C’mon mum, can’t I please have clothes that give me a humanistic education instead?”

Or something like that anyway.

Having three young nephews, I see what kids do to their clothes. I don’t have high hopes that something destined to be stained by every substance imaginable will be so metaphysically transcendent.

In the interests of full disclosure, my sense of style is about on par with Martin Crane’s chair in Frasier.Even so, I find it laughable that one can expect independence to emanate from a clothing brand that eliminates the number one way children group themselves – by sex.

Adults play a hand in this of course, but the boy-girl segregation is rooted in indisputable biological differences that unsurprisingly manifest as differing preferences when it comes to activities, toys, and yes, clothes.

That isn’t to say all boys think alike or that all girls do. We have to look at the averages and not the exceptions, however. Companies that make and market gendered clothes are simply catering to differences in the sexes, not causing them.

Dion’s latest business venture suggests that boys are shackled by blue. In launching the brand, she said it would “liberate” children. Friends of mine with young daughters say it’s hard to get them to wear anything other than princess dresses some days. I doubt they think they’re held prisoners by pink.

This isn’t to say that kid-focused marketing doesn’t sometimes go to farcical extremes. Most toys don’t need to be gendered and there are lots of crossover styles and colours of clothing that appeal to both boys and girls.

I don’t think that science kits should be branded as boy toys any more than girls should have a monopoly on paint sets. Let children decide for themselves instead of making them the victims of a society denying biological realities.

In purging anything outside of the middle section of the Toys “R” Us Venn diagram, parents and children are left with fewer choices. This is the opposite of what progressives claim to want.

Forget for a moment that $71 price tag on a Celinununu onesie. The styles yearn for the world that post-modern parents think should exist rather than the one that does.

There have always been boys interested in what are conventionally viewed as girl toys, and vice-versa. That’s why the word ‘tomboy’ exists. Making everything gender neutral excludes these and all other kids from having and expressing their own interests.

Dion’s talent as a musician is undeniable, but her view of parenting is concerning. “Our children – they are not really our children,” she said in an advertisement for the clothing line. “As we are all just links in a never-ending chain that is life.”

It seems like the latest incarnation of Hillary Clinton’s “it takes a village” line. Though parents are growing more wary of the other villagers making decisions that ought to be made strictly by mum and dad.

Many of the stereotypes that exist around what children want exist because of what they’ve been choosing for generations. We can’t change that, even if the political current is shifting.

If Celinununu is for you, then go for it. Adorn your kids in black and white if that’s what they desire. But don’t be surprised if little Timmy or Tina gravitates to whatever is in their wardrobe right now, uninterested in the grown-up culture war about gender neutrality.

There’s a stark difference between breaking down barriers and denying reality. If parents load up their kids’ wardrobes with duds from Celinununu for political reasons rather than stylistic ones, they’re missing that point as well.

I’ve no doubt there’s a market for this, but I fear we’re forcing the far-Left’s shallow idealism on children who already face enough challenges in this world.

If I see Dion’s clothes in the store, it’s safe to say my cart will go on.


Andrew Lawton is columnist for The Interimand a fellow at the True North Initiative.