You are here

Gendering the Shoes

‘What a beautiful little boy.’ Words every parent loves to hear, right? If that is, they have a son...

I’d like to say that after months of hearing my daughter Eliza regularly referred to by strangers as ‘buddy’, ‘little guy’ and ‘son’, it’d be like water off a duck’s back to me by now. But no. For some reason, it irritates me now more ever. And in true British fashion, I inevitably end up feeling more awkward than the awkward stranger when I explain that actually, she’s a little girl.

‘Of course,’ they’ll gasp apologetically, ‘I see the shoes now.’ The shoes?! Since when did toddler shoes hold the gender key? It’s not like I’ve put her in sequinned high heels....

But being guilty of doing the exact same thing to other babies, I too have learnt the value of shoes. I had the cutest little cupcake of a thing crawl up to me beaming at a baby music class recently. ‘What a handsome little thing you are,’ I exclaimed, utterly enchanted by the vision of chubby loveliness. Then I spotted the shoes. Pink flowers. A dusting of sequins. A little girl. Gulp. They may be a little harder to detect than with regular, adult-sized shoes, but the clues are definitely there, even in the faintest of pink stitching. Shame on me for not shoe checking! It’s always the give away...

I put Eliza’s ‘little buddy’ status down to her hair, or lack thereof. It’s definitely growing but it’s doing it slowly and steadily. Her little pals on the other hand – both gals and guys – are sprouting prolific manes. I see bunches, braids and pony-tails, I hear about trips to baby hairdresser’s and barber shops.

So I lovingly comb the sheer wisps coiling around Eliza’s neck each morning, willing them to grow that teensy bit faster so I don’t have to hear, in reference to my pink sweat pant and pink sneakers-wearing toddler, ‘M’aam, you have to take the little guy out of the stroller,’ the next time we go through airport security.

I’m not a ribbons and bows person and neither is Eliza. But at a play-date recently, a friend  popped a tiny pink neon bow in Eliza’s hair and she was transformed. Despite being in jeans and hooded sweatshirt, it was a Disney-princess type transformation and on the drive home, I kept grinning inanely at my beautiful indisputable toddler girl in the rear view mirror. The bow’s magic was lost on Husband N however and when we got home, he whipped it off and it has mysteriously never been seen again.

Meanwhile, despite at present being a mere belly bump, baby Number Two is not escaping the gendering issue either. People ask if I know what I’m having and when I explain I don’t know, they inevitably give me their take on it anyway. Don’t get me wrong – I love hearing opinions on my bump shape and honestly believe it carries some weight (so to speak...) if the forecasts while pregnant with Eliza were anything to go by.

Currently the tally stands firmly in favour of my carrying a baby boy. In fact, I think I’ve had only one person suggest a girl. I’ve long given up relying on my gut - the figurative, not literal one that is. Initially instinct told me a girl but the pregnancy has been so different from the last time, from getting zits on my shoulders (!!), to random bouts of barfing well past the first trimester (I had a mystery spew at the weekend..). that I do question that.

Of course, these subtle differences may simply be down to the extra stress of being pregnant while caring for another child, but then again, who knows. We can’t check the shoe stitching on this one, nor would we want to. Only time will tell. Time that’s fast approaching....

 

comments