I Put My Baby Daughter in Dinosaur Overalls. Am I an Anarchist?


It would be bad enough if the gender hysteria was limited to the color of strollers and kneepads. But sexism is often imprinted on clothes themselves, and here is where it becomes exceptionally insidious — because of the messages it delivers. Baby boys might be dressed in a onesie that says, “Chegou o terror da mulherada” (“Here comes the ladies’ man.”) Other options: “Lock up your daughters”; “Don’t worry, ladies, I’m still single”; “Future cute doctor”; “Future Ferrari driver.” One of Brazil’s favorites is a onesie that says, “Ladies: Today I’m bald and toothless, but someday I’ll be rich.”If Brazil’s baby boys are arrogant and womanizing, our baby girls are frivolous and pretty. “From the cradle I know what I want: beautiful shoes like mom’s” one onesie reads (I wish I was kidding). Others: “Future Miss Brazil,” “Future bride” and “Princess in training.” And if these stereotypes aren’t enough, there are options that engage in precocious body-shaming: “Does this diaper make my butt look big?”But this problem is not unique to Brazil. In 2015, the Spanish clothing retailer Zara introduced girls’ onesies with the inscription “Pretty and Perfect: It’s what daddy said,” while the counterpart boy’s version read “Cool and Clever: It’s what mummy said.” The year before, a chain of supermarkets in Spain had to apologize and stop selling baby’s clothes with the inscriptions “Intelligent as daddy” (for boys) and “Pretty as mommy” (for girls). Lest North America start feeling smug, that same year, Target got in trouble for selling in its Canadian stores a set of boy’s pajamas bearing the words “Future Man of Steel.” The girl version said, “I only date heroes.”So you see, Ms. Alves, we are already deep in a world of baby girls who must grow up to be pretty princesses and wives, and boys dressed in blue who must grow up to date as many of these princesses as possible. Those princes and princesses get to go on to a future of unequal pay, domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, femicide, homophobia and transphobia.So by all means, call your daughter a princess. Truly, no one is stopping you. It is sad, however, that while you are busy telling children who and what they should be, so many very real forces are conspiring within our country to stop them from safely growing up to be who they truly are, and that you seem so uninterested in doing anything about these instead.Vanessa Barbara, a contributing opinion writer, is the editor of the literary website A Hortaliça and the author of two novels and two nonfiction books in Portuguese.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.