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The Delightful Baby Boy in Graphic Tees

The Heart of Life: The Delightful Baby Boy in Graphic Tees

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Delightful Baby Boy in Graphic Tees

Ever since finding out we’re having a boy, I’ve been making detours through the baby sections of clothing stores to get a feel for what’s available in baby-boys-wear.  I usually end up averting my eyes as I walk through the baby girls clothes (somehow you always have to walk through the girls clothes to get to the boys clothes).  Otherwise, by the time I get to the boys clothes I am horribly depressed by the comparison.  There are so many freaking cute girl outfits, and the vast majority of boy clothes are very meh.

As I’ve been perusing, I’ve noticed a somewhat disturbing trend in baby boy graphic tees.  I’m not sure if there’s something similar going on in baby girl world (I try not to look, remember), but it seems fairly pervasive in baby boy world.  Thus, I’ve rounded up a few pictures of these oddly themed tees.

It might just be the social worker in me that dislikes these graphic tees, so its very possible that mainstream folks won’t see anything wrong with these tees.  In fact, I’ve linked each picture to the corresponding website where they’re available for purchase in the event that you fall in love with one.

The most common theme in graphic tees is overwhelmingly obnoxious cockiness.  Yes, I understand that every parent thinks their child is adorable, but there’s no need to put it on a shirt.  The cuteness should speak for itself, really.  Plus, I’m hoping my baby boy grows up with a healthy sense of humility.

Big DealMajorSeriously HandsomeLadies ManChicks Dig

Another theme I noticed was rudeness.  I want Baby Ching to be polite and kind.  So why would I put rude phrases on his shirts?

Bug MeGet Lost

Many shirts tag the wearer with a very negative label, and I think this is possibly the most disturbing theme.  In intro psych courses you learn about the looking glass self theory, which basically asserts that people tend to become what other people think they are.  For example, a kid forgets to do his homework assignment, so his teacher says, “You’re so irresponsible!”  Even if this kid is really a fairly responsible guy, knowing that his teacher thinks he is irresponsible can eventually cause him to believe that he really is irresponsible.  And when a person believes he is irresponsible, he has a tendency to become irresponsible.  The same principle applies to these shirts.  I just don’t think you can put a child in a shirt that says “rebel” and realistically expect him to be a thoughtful and obedient child.

Captain CrabbyCrabby but CuteGrouchyGrouchy BackLittle MonsterRebel

Along the same vein are the shirts that label the wearer as a trouble-maker.  Technically they’re part of the “negative labeling” theme, but there’s enough specific to trouble-making that they require their own category.  Not only do they fall under the looking glass self idea I mentioned above, the message is just sort of disconcerting.  They remind me of a bumper sticker I saw the other day that said, “I was probably drunk.”  Not exactly classy.  Nothing says, “I hope I end up in juvi,” like a shirt that says, “Here comes trouble.”  It sends a weird message that deviance is expected and acceptable.   

Up to SomethingAttitudeTough to HandleTrouble

Lastly, there’s the mother-worshipping shirts.  These are just ridiculous.  Moms rock, but a shirt to confirm the fact is unnecessary.

Mommy is BossBananasWildSee Mommy

I think it’d be fun to see graphic tees revolving around traits I actually want my children to have.  You know, like “Super Dependable,” “I follow the rules,” “Honest Babe” (that one is kind of clever, yeah?), etc.  My husband does do graphic design, so maybe one day you’ll see us cranking out a baby apparel line.


At July 7, 2013 at 8:41 PM , Blogger Josh and Kaleena said...

Yeah, I have to say I'm not super jealous of you in shopping for little boys clothes-although the one silver lining is that when you find something cute, it is SO cute! I'm not a huge fan of graphic tees period, but the girls are always princesses or some other version of "spoiled" which I also don't like. But my other problem with baby boy clothes is that they're so "cute" that they're almost femine or they go to the other extreme and have like skulls on them. Good luck in your shopping and in your baby showers for that matter!

At July 8, 2013 at 3:24 AM , Blogger Georgia said...

I'd LOVE to have you and your hubby start a new line of baby clothes with positive messages. That would be awesome!! I've seen the rude, crude, and stupid graphic t-shirts, but your collection viewed all together is really disturbing. You made some very valid points about how children's perceptions could be formed by the message they are displaying on their chest. Not all of those shirts were for infants. The toddler and older ones definitely could taint some attitudes.

What a great blog post! Thanks to you and Kaleena's reply for pointing out these trends in baby clothing. I'll shop carefully for your sweet little boy.

At July 8, 2013 at 11:22 PM , Blogger Alisha said...

I knew where you were going with this post before I read a single word and I completely agree. In childhood so many parents, mothers in particular, label their child as grouchy or cranky or spoiled (at no point in time do I find this an appealing or proudly defining moment as I've seen some mothers do).. then wonder why their child ends up selfish, spoiled, rude and often violent. In our SW classes we learned so much about starting with the basics at infancy, and I don't quite understand why designers would promote bad behaviors like this.

Ps. I love your pregnancy posts, keep em coming.


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