My son wears girl clothes. He doesn’t dress himself yet, mind you. He’s only 9 months old, so we still do that for him. But, he wears a few outfits that are clearly made for girls. And he looks good in them.

Before becoming a parent, I thought that the days of rigid gender definitions for clothes, toys and basically anything a baby needs or would want were mostly behind us. I wasn’t around kids much and didn’t shop for them, so I didn’t actually know for sure; but I figured that the turn of the millennium, the last several decades of women’s empowerment and the gender-role challenges that came with them would have resulted in more fluid options for babies.

I was wrong. Horribly wrong.

Girls’ colors are pink, purple, yellow; boys’ colors are blue, brown, green and sometimes red. Girls, more than boys, wear red but it will have pink or yellow accents on it. Or a flower, butterfly or ladybug. A boy can wear yellow, but it will have bats, balls, trucks or dinosaurs on it. Or a phrase, like “Daddy’s little man.”

This is, apparently, the law. And it goes for all sorts of gear—toys, changing tables, linens, walkers, car seats, strollers and more. We might as well be living in 1965 from the looks of most of it.

The thing is, my son likes flowers. Big red and pink and orange ones. He stares in wonderment and cackles with joy as he looks at them.

What’s more, I bought a few items for him at a thrift store (I buy most of my own clothes second-hand) and when I got them home, I noticed that the jeans had back pockets made in the shape of hearts.

Girl jeans.

I put them on him, rolled up the cuffs, put a lavendar v-neck sweater on him and let him loose on his play mat. He looked so dashing and metropolitan. (I know–he was only 6 months old at the time and the sweater front was soon dark with drool, but still . . . ) He looked fantastic.

My partner Nishta bought him some pajamas when he outgrew his first crop. I sat on the couch while she unpacked the shopping bags to show me our son’s new duds. Purple and pink stripes with scalloping around the neck. Yellow and beige polka dots with yellow rickrack edging the sleeves. All girl pajamas.

“All the boy ones were ugly,” she said, explaining but not apologizing. “These were so much more fun and bright, and he’ll look good in them.”

Indeed, he does.


Other articles in the Bringing Up Bubber series

#1: First There Was Us

#2: Have You Thought About This?


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Jill Carroll & Nishta Mehra have been together for over a decade.  In the summer of 2012, they embarked on the journey of parenthood when they adopted their newborn son, Shiv.  They fill their lives with friends, books, writing, food, and fantasy football, and are proud pet parents to an old rat terrier named Dolly and three snuggly cats.  Jill is a hunter and an angler; Nishta is an amateur cook and gym rat.  They live in a suburb of Houston, Texas.  Find more about Jill at & Nishta at


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Quail Fried Rice
by Jill Carroll

Quail Fried Rice is a romance novel written somewhat outside the usual “romance” formula. The story follows Tori Reed and Elena Rios–talented, smart and beautiful women–as they transition their lives away from big cities to the pace and culture of a small town in West Texas. Readers join their journey as they create new lives for themselves in the midst of grief, loss, significant change, and the pressures of societal expectation. The result is an artful narrative of discovery set within the sparse beauty of the desert landscape.


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