"I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn't know how bad," the dad recalled.
As years go by, we as a society are becoming more aware of the blatant over-sexualization of women that starts at an incredibly young age. TikTok user @ericasaysstuff took to TikTok to ask other fathers of daughters to share the moment they realized how women were being over-sexualized at a very young age. One dad, Michael Vaughn, shared his experience and it was an eye-opener to many.
In the video, the dad says, "It was 100% the clothes. And I knew it was going to be bad, but I didn't know how bad. And then we got a onesie for our daughter that says: 'Sorry, boys, dad says no dating' — sized for a newborn. I guess I'm wondering who they thought was going to date our 0-month-old daughter. But all the girl's clothes are remarkably annoying for so many reasons......Why does everything have ruffles, why is everything hyper-pink, why is everything glittery? Why can't I just find a one-piece bathing suit for my daughter? Why are girl clothes smaller than boy clothes when they're the same size? Like, I don't get why boys get normal shorts and my daughter gets shorts with an inseam of negative two. Like, we legit buy boy pants for our daughter because girl pants are sausage casing leggings. I'm not squeezing a baby back into sausage casing every single diaper change. So, it was 100% girl clothes. Girl clothes are the worst!," reported Buzzfeed.
BuzzFeed then conducted an interview with Michael about the experience he and his partner Kelly have had while clothes shopping for their 14-month-old daughter, Eleanor. The father said, "It’s important to Kelly and me that our daughter be raised free from as much toxic influence as possible, and that influence started before she was even born. I don't think it should be this difficult to find what I'd call platonic clothing for children. Not to speak in absolutes, but the clothes we buy our daughter that were intended for boys consistently fit comfortably, are more durable, and aren’t see-through. The clothes we’ve found that were intended for girls are usually snug to the point of being form-fitting (even in the same size), cover less, and feel pretty flimsy in terms of quality. There’s no reason for it."
Michael then added, "I recognize I’m not the first person to have this thought. Women and moms have been saying this for a long time. There are plenty of dads on TikTok, but a good number focus on jokes or playing out the clueless dad stereotype. Part of my motivation is to be a dad who is both a competent parent and partner. This includes doing my best to be an ally to women, and that means speaking up on important topics like this to leverage the privilege I have in case it brings more weight to an issue." Michael then spoke about the sayings on baby clothes, "Anything about dating or dad protecting his daughter’s virginity goes far beyond the realm of normalcy for me. Some people think they’re just jokes, but I can’t find a single good reason to sexualize a baby like that. The boys shirts and onesies were just as bad (like 'Boob man' or 'Ladies, please, one at a time'). These toxic mindsets start at a very young age, and have long-ranging and long-lasting impacts on girls’ self-image."
Michael says it is "maddening", "The most disturbing observation I’ve made is that it’s very easy to find clothes for girls that are revealing, and that’s not true for boys clothes. I don’t believe this is an accident. From the moment they’re very little, this is just one way society reinforces the toxic mindset that female bodies are intended to be displayed, and it conditions young girls to think objectification is normal." He even pointed out that there is no valid reason for the difference in sizes when it comes to gender. "Even the CDC’s own growth charts show the average 3-year-old girl and boy are only about a half inch and half pound apart in size. You know what I want: Clothes that don’t have sayings that sexualize babies and children. Clothes that fit boys and girls the same when the size matches. Clothes that come in gender-neutral color options as a standard. And I want dinosaurs and functional pockets for my daughter. She deserves dinosaurs and functional pockets," he said, reported Buzzfeed.
Michael then had a message for other parents, "To other parents raising daughters: You’re not the only parent who feels this way. Your concerns are valid. The cool thing is you’re the parent, which means you get to be involved in what they’re exposed to, how they’re exposed to it, and how they learn to process and challenge those influences. This also means you get to set an early standard about what matters, like their talents and interests. In other words: positive things that help define them that don’t involve their appearance."
Michael however did acknowledge that there were many out there who may not be aware of this or didn't see this as a problem, to them he says, "Please be humble and do some research. Grab your mask and go to the store. Actually look at the girls' clothes and boys' clothes to see what differences you find, especially between the same sizes. I recommend starting with the sayings on T-shirts, then comparing size 3T shorts for girls and boys. This research also includes asking the women in your life if they’d be willing to share their experiences of being over-sexualized as children. Don’t push if they’re unwilling; many of those experiences are traumatic. If they’re willing to share, listen to their experiences and learn from them as well," reported Buzzfeed.