This Mom Created A Line Of Suits For Girls As An Alternative To The Princess Epidemic

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For years gender norms have dictated what women are and aren’t supposed to wear, as well as men. There used to be a time when a woman wearing long pants or suits was considered crazy or outrageous, or a man wearing a skirt or dress as something insane.

While those strict boundaries have been broken down mostly, there are still ways in which society subtly gives us cues as to how we need to “stay in our lane”.

Just recently we saw how Target decided to get rid of gender classification for its toy section. On August 7, the company announced it will no longer direct boys to certain toys, and girls in the same way. While there were many people outraged at this move, let’s put it into perspective here folks: if your daughter wants to play with Batman or Hot Wheels, will she find them in the girls’ section? And if your son wants to play with an Easy Bake oven, will it be available in the boys’ section? If all toys were just displayed in one big area where young boys and girls didn’t have to feel shame or embarrassment about the choices based on gender, wouldn’t that be an awesome thing?

Well we certainly think so. There is a pervasive culture of princess-ism that many parents are getting fed up with. The idea that finding success in life is being beautiful and falling in love with a prince charming is so absurd. Giving young girls to message that they don’t need to work hard, find a career or skill, develop problem-solving skills and place emphasis on things other than their physical appearance to get ahead in life is a dangerous one.

It is the type of message one mom from Atlanta had in mind when she started a clothing label to cater to girls who don’t want to be lumped into the princess movement. Michele Yulo is the woman behind Princess Free Zone, which is a website that offers clothing and books that cater to girls who aren’t interested in the pink princess epidemic.

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(Disclaimer: we’re not saying there is anything wrong with enjoying a Disney princess movie (hey, we’re ALL about ‘Frozen’) or the color pink, we’re emphasizing that there needs to be a more diverse range of role models for girls who teach them how to use their brains and hearts, not just their looks as a means to living a full life.)

Michele was inspired by her daughter Gabriela, who loves Spiderman, Batman, playing with a toy tool belt and playing sports. She is what we would normally call a “tomboy”, but Michele doesn’t like that term. One of the things Gabriela started to form an interest in was wearing suits. She would want to wear them to her violin recitals instead of a dress, Michele told Yahoo Parenting.

“From a very young age she wanted a tuxedo. … We searched and searched and couldn’t find one for girls, so we bought her a boy’s tux. She wore it proudly with her black-and-white Jordan high-top sneaks and her (then) long hair pulled back in a ponytail. Since then, she has opted to wear suits for many occasions,” she shared.

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Instead of lamenting the problem of not being able to find a suit, Michele decided to use her entrepreneurial spirit and design a line of tuxedos for girls. ‘Suit Her’ is marketed to girls aged 5-12, and she launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds to manufacture the collection.

The initial line will include three different styles which are able to be mixed and matched, as well as a few options for ties. One of the major issues with buying boys’ suits for girls is the broad shoulders. Having a customs designed suit for a girl would make it look less “boyish” and more “stylish”.

“Many parents have sent me pictures of their girls dressed in suits, but they are boys’ suits. Women wear suits and it is not only acceptable, but stylish. Why can’t little girls? They should not have to wear a suit that is too broad in the shoulders, short in the arms and baggy in the pants. In short, they shouldn’t have to wear a suit that isn’t tailored for their bodies. Enter SUIT HER!” writes Michele on the Kickstarter page.

Celebrities like Emma Watson, Celine Dion, The Spice, Girls, Leighton Meester and singer Janelle Monae have all rocked the power suit like the badasses they are. They signify strength and confidence in a woman, so why shouldn’t a girl have access to this feeling from a young age in her clothing choice?

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The idea behind ‘Princess Free Zone’ and the Suit Her collection is to provide an alternative for girls who aren’t necessarily interested in princess culture, and in turn chip away at the systemic prejudice that dictates to girls from a young age what they should look like in public.

“I have learned that there are countless girls who aren’t being recognized or respected in the mostly pink-and-princess departments. Behind them are supportive parents and relatives looking for more choices, who don’t want their girls limited by what big companies decide is for girls. I’ve worked hard to build community and engage in a conversation around gender identity and stereotypes so that I could be a part of the change I wanted for my daughter and, ultimately, all girls,” said Michele.

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Her mission is to recognize the many young girls like her own daughter, and the parents who like her are finding it difficult to nurture their daughter’s desires simply based on the limited options available in clothing stores and online.

“It used to be just about Gabi. But then I thought, she cannot be the only one. The gender-fluid trend is fortunately picking up steam, but it can be so hard for kids [to assert their desires],” she said.

“I think kids are aware of [the gender direction], then they get stuck and the parents reinforce it. [I hope] that it can help eliminate the gender stereotypes for kids.”

Michele made an appearance on HLN in 2013 to talk about why toy companies specifically can play a huge part in the gendered messages girls and boys get from a young age. To support and check out her Kickstarter for the Suit Her line, click here.


 

30 Comments

  1. ‘the genderfluid trend’ uh well sorry but nonbinary gender identities are not a ‘trend.’ gender fluidity isnt a trend. genderqueerness is not a trend. i am not a trend. referring to genderfluid as a ‘trend’ instead of a valid and completely separate gender identity is really transphobic

    • robespierrette says:

      That was perhaps poor phrasing on their part. There is a new trend: understanding and accepting genderfluidity. It’s a big improvement over the old trends of ignoring, shaming, or punishing it.

    • In the mainstream they are definitely a trend. That’s what a trend is – extending in a general direction, following a general course. And as she said, ‘fortunately’ so!

    • I don’t think she is intending to be transphobic, I think she is referring to the marketing ‘trend’ (ie, promotion of genderfluid etc culture in mainstream spaces and publications), not the human beings affected by the former (and current) bad attitudes of anything not pink-and-blue binary designated.

    • Liking things that are stereo-typically assigned to the opposite gender is also not necessarily a sign of being “gender fluid” or “genderqueer” or in any way feeling as if you’ve been assigned to the wrong gender. It just means you like things that are not stereotypically associated with your gender.

    • I think she meant it more from a fashion perspective, rather than gender fluidity itself. In the case of fashion and business it would be considered a trend, which, unlike a fad, is not a bad thing. In fact, a trend is defined as “the general direction in which something is developing or changing”. And she seems like she’s pretty open-minded about gender and supportive of her daughter’s identity. It’s a good thing! 🙂

    • I feel like this set of comments explaining to you that she didn’t mean to be discriminatory is really messed up.

      Because you were trying to point out that her remarks were shitty, and telling you that it’s no big deal because she didn’t mean to hurt you when she wrote something that’s an attack on you is not helpful.

  2. Do you have a single fact to back that up?

  3. This is not how you feminist people says:

    I would have liked this article a lot more with out the “princess epidemic” dig. Wow are we back to shaming people for rejecting all things the world has deemed ‘for girls’ again?

    • This is not how you read a fucking article says:

      The first line in the article dissipated your argument, you nit-picky troll. You would have liked this article more if _____? We would have liked your life better if you had crawled back into whatever cave-under-a-bridge you spawned from and stayed there.

  4. Like how is says “come as you are”, BUT no princess allowed. So judgey sounding.

  5. Fidelbogen says:

    The chattering classes certainly are dominated by loopy people keen on social engineering.

  6. Pro tip: if you don’t want people to think that you believe there is something wrong with pink and princesses, don’t call it an ‘epidemic.’ You’re welcome.

  7. Nothing about this post is transphobic. Don’t get hung up on one poor word choice. Hurting your own cause.

    • Poor word choice in a transphobic way is transphobic.

      So, also, is telling trans people what they’re allowed to care about. You realise the last phrase in your post is literally the exact semantic equivalent of “we will only stop kicking you to death so long as you behave how we order you to”?

  8. Real Figures says:

    I wouldn’t choose celebrities as role models for suits. I would choose women with real jobs.

  9. I’ve got two words for you:

    Annie Hall

  10. Any chance of a Suit Her collection for grownups? With, you know, the same number (and depth and size!) of pockets as men’s suits? Especially, pockets need to hold keys, wallets, money, and cellphones with the same ease as in men’s clothes. Any chance?

    • There are a few companies out there that make men style suits for specifically for women. Just do an internet search, or you can just walk into the men’s department and buy a suit. There is no rule that a woman or girl can’t buy and wear men’s or boy’s clothing.

      • I’d be interested in finding the few companies out there that make men’s style suits specifically for women.

        There’s certainly no rule preventing me from buying men’s clothing — it’s just that in order for my hips and thighs to fit, the waistline bunches up. And suit jacket sleeves have elbow curves about halfway down my forearms, so they don’t hang right even when shortened.

        Not to mention that the size 32-short is tough to find.

        What internet search terms return companies that make pockets that work (as opposed to pockets that visually seem to look like men’s pockets, but are too narrow or too shallow — or even, imaginary)?

        • A suit is something that should be tailored anyways. Men’s style suits don’t fit most men right off the rack either. What you do is find a suit with a style you like then find a local tailor or tailor it yourself. Once you get the hang of it, changing the fit of a suit is a quick and easy process.

  11. This is awesome. I have only one criticism: when trying to point out that “women wear suits too” the author of this article points only to female actresses, models, and other celebrities…but what about female politicians and lawyers, who wear a suit everyday? Aren’t these good role models too? Why not reference them as a good reason for young girls to learn to love suits?

  12. +1 on the pockets. That’s second on my list of things to look for in clothing, right behind ‘pants that fit and don’t look or feel like they’re falling off.’

    Lessee, things wrong with princess culture:
    Teaches girls that they should expect help from men for the really difficult situations, at the very least, if not for all situations entirely.
    Teaches girls that they shouldn’t have to learn anything practical or own any practical clothes – that the only reason they might have to work is if the world is being unfair to them.
    Teaches girls that ‘ugly’ means ‘bad’ and ‘pretty’ means ‘good’ – almost every Disney movie ever made.
    Teaches girls that ‘elderly’ means ‘bad’ – Tangled.
    Teaches girls that ‘fat’ means ‘bad’ – Little Mermaid, I’m sure others.

    In short, princess culture teaches girls to value their appearance above every other trait they possess.

    Yeah, I’d call that an epidemic, given how many of those completely bad ideas seem to be infecting girls these days.

    It’s okay to want to look nice. It’s when that desire is held above all others, when it’s linked to one’s value as a human being at the expense of all other knowledge and skills, that it’s a problem.

  13. It’s ironic that all the photos (except the one of mother daughter) are all skinny glam. 🙁 We have a ways to go.

  14. Janelle Monae…the classiest suit loving woman!

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