You Didn’t Realize You Needed These Clothes in your Life, Did You?

Boys clothes suck.

They do. They are extremely cute until your kid turns two, and then it’s all skateboarding, video games, and snarky catch phrases. Not the good kind of snark, either. The “my parents must think deep down I’m actually an asshole” snark.

Boys clothes come in 3 colour schemes – florescent, earth tones, and primary. They come in three styles – t-shirts, rugby shirts, and golf shirts. They all contain pictures of dogs wearing sunglasses, slices of pizza, or a proclamation about how much better, cooler, or smarter the wearer is than the reader. There are the obligatory school sucks messages as well.

In an effort to not to raise a bunch of dude-bros, I went on a search to find just one shirt with a positive message for my son. The rise in science-based, leadership oriented, and empowering clothing for girls has been heartening. There is still a long way to go, but girls clothing has made a good start.

I love the messages I see popping up like “This princess saves herself,” but that hardly works for my son. Ditto things like “Future CEO.” My sons have never been sent the message they can’t be the leader of a corporation, so while the sentiment is absolutely fantastic for a girl, it doesn’t quite have the same effect on my son.

I set out to find some kind of shirt that embodied the idea of gender equality and empowerment. Even something with a strong female character that my son could wear and send the message both that women are worth celebrating, and that it is okay for boys to care about female characters and female empowerment. Win-win, right?

I failed miserably. Nothing was out there, shy of some indie shops with Wonder Woman and Rey. I wrote my sad article, lamented at the lack of progress we have made, and went back to trying to find the least cringe-worthy clothes I could find for my boys.

Then, like a beacon of light, Free to Be Kids clothing showed up on my screen. The heavens parted, a beam lowered down and said, “Here, unto you Heather, clothing for boys that doesn’t suck.”

Positive messages on clothing for boys and girls! Shirts proclaiming things like “Girls rule, boys rule, the end” and “Super Kind.”


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“Boys will be boys good humans!” is my personal favourite. “Tough like Mommy.”  Amazing. “Kind like Daddy.” Hear that? That’s me squeeing all over the place. “Femininst like Daddy”? I might need to up my credit limit.

And the company is named after, oh, only the greatest children’s movie of all time. The one that sought out to smash gender stereotypes in the 70s, whose work is still highly relevant today. I might be in love.

I long for the day I can walk into a mainstream store and buy non-stereotyped, positive, high quality clothing (ahem, Old Navy? Gap? Children’s Place? All your friends? Get together and step up your game.)

In the meantime, I am grateful for conscientious entrepreneurs who are finally filling this need. Thank-you, Courtney Hartman, for your phenomenal vision, and for your representation of the kind of men many parents of our generation want to raise. Kindness, empowerment, equality. Always.


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