My Little Bro-ny

Things that are hard:

- Explaining nuclear fission
- Baking a souffle
- Finding a damn My Little Pony shirt that doesn't have ruffles or bows

My three-year-old, Corbin, is obsessed with My Little Pony right now. Obsessed. It's his favorite show. He has a My Little Pony book that we absolutely must read every single night - I could probably recite the thing in my sleep. For Christmas, my mom made him a fleece My Little Pony-print blanket, and he got a stuffed pony from Build-a-Bear (Applejack, whose jaunty little cowboy hat that I paid $7 extra for was trampled to irreversible flatness within ten minutes).

So like any sucker parent who wants to see their child smile, I wanted to find him a My Little Pony t-shirt. It should be pretty simple, I figured. I've noticed them in passing by the girls' clothing section in almost every store - they're all over the place.

I started at Walmart, because cheapness is my jam.

At first, I was encouraged, seeing all the traditionally "boyish" stuff geared toward girls. Ninja Turtle shirts with pink capes! Superhero shirts with ruffles! Surely this meant I wouldn't have a problem finding a My Little Pony shirt that was good for boys, right??


Sure enough, I found the mother-lode of MLP merchandise. But wait - what was this? My enthusiasm dampened as, sifting through t-shirt after t-shirt, I failed to find a single one that didn't have any feminine detailing, like lace or ribbons or pleats. Even the most unadorned shirts were still cut for girls, with curved-in waists and cap sleeves.


I left, frustrated and shirtless. (Well, I mean without buying a My Little Pony shirt. I myself wasn't shirtless. You're welcome, general public.)

Here's the thing. When my son is older, and is able to understand that judgmental people can be (and usually are) wrong, he can wear whatever the hell he wants. I don't care if he chooses to strut his stuff in a pink sequined My Little Pony tutu and a pair of sparkly platform shoes, as long as he knows to expect - and take with a grain of salt - any (inevitable) criticism of his style choices.

But.

Right now, he's just a baby. And people are jerks. And one remark of, "You know that's a girl's shirt, right?" or some similarly unhelpful, unnecessary comment can color his perception of his own choices. I don't want him to feel bad or wrong for wearing what he likes. I want him to be proud that he's wearing his favorite characters - no matter who those characters may be. He would love to wear ANY shirt featuring My Little Pony, and honestly, he'd probably be thrilled by the rhinestones or ruffles. But at what cost? I don't want anybody even giving him side-eye, let alone saying something demeaning his style in his presence. So I seek out the plainest Pony tees.

I just want him to be able to wear a My Little Pony shirt and feel awesome in it. Even if it's the pinkest, laciest, sparkliest shirt on the rack. 

It's endlessly frustrating - not just from the perspective of an all-male mother, but from the perspective of a feminist. Girls can go into any store and shop in whatever section they choose - because when they wear "boy clothes," they're lauded as strong and confident. But a boy who shops in the girls' section is virtually guaranteed to be the target of ridicule. Isn't this contrary to the very gender-equality we're trying to achieve? The traits we assign to girls wearing boy clothes are far preferable to the ones we assign to boys wearing girl clothes: soft. Weak. Lesser somehow. When we stop associating femininity with these traits, we can move toward being a truly gender-equal society.

... And little men like mine can wear whatever they feel like wearing, and still be seen for who they really are. 


16 comments:

  1. I agree! And I've lived long enough to experience many such inequities when changes come around. Usually, the pendulum seems to swing too far in the opposite direction (such as girls getting by with boy clothes while boys' choices are still limited) before things even out. Hopefully, by the time Corbin's sons arrive, they'll simply be accepted for who they are, and gender specificity be damned!

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  2. I totally agree with your sentiments. Until we live in a better world, though, why not buy a cheap, sparkly Pony T-shirt, cut out the motif and sew it onto a plain T-shirt?

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  3. Not as cheap as walmart but here's one.
    https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/183730724/thunderbolt-soarin-shirt-my-little-pony?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=my%20little%20pony%20boy%20shirt&ref=sr_gallery_1

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  4. Try a home based business that prints or embroidery tees. Then you can specify the pony and the plain tee in your choice of color.

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  5. It's not Applejack (high five to your boy -she was my fave as a kid mumble-mumble years ago), but Teefury offers several MLP mashups (like Zelda and HP!) and they totally come in kids sizes. Other than that, I'd try Etsy.

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  6. I have had the same issue as a mother of Bronies. One option you may not have considered is check the pajama section. They tend to be less frilly. We did this a couple of times for my oldest before he stopped liking them as much after a friend's daughter mocked him for liking girls stuff. For my youngest we found the wonders of the internet that actually makes boy pony shirts. Good luck.

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  7. My 5 year old LOVED Elsa from Frozen. OBSESSED. We got him a blue shirt with her on it and he still was teased about at school. It was so sad but he didn't care. He wore it proudly. Grown men wear shirts with females on it, why couldn't a five year old? He also loves holiday socks...Valentines Day is around the corner so he is sporting his heart socks already. Teased the first day. I hope I am teaching him NOT to care what others think and continue being his loving fun self. Good for you Mom!!!!

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  8. Sissy loves you bun! I think I'm going to go buy a my little pony shirt myself to wear around with him lol society's standards suck!

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  9. My boys like MLP too & I never saw why all the MLP merchandise is girly...it's a good show about good values, why is it only for girls?? We did find a blue MLP water bottle that is my son's favorite! Hang in there Bronies!!

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  10. I hope you can find a shirt. I've seen some non-frilly ones at Walmart and Kohls.

    My daughter wears lots of "boy" things. Dinosaur shirts. Minecraft shirts. Star Wars shirts. She doesn't care. She has a friend who is a boy who likes My Little Pony. They like to talk pony sometimes. It's cute.

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  11. So much truth! One of my little men is wanting a ladybug girl shirt and I'm having the same dilemma. Even if not frilly, it is cut differently or has the little capped sleeves. Sigh. Boy Mama problems.

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  12. Aww! Loved your post. I have a son who loves playing ponies with his sisters as well... Of course the person who teases him the most about it is his older brother!

    I think gendered clothing sucks both ways. Why can't boys have more colourful shirts or mlp shirts or something that doesn't have a car on it? Why are girls jeans low-ride? And why does every shirt need to be fitted, puff-sleeved or peplum? I've experienced both sides of this anguish coin.

    I agree with the pj section suggestion... Or buy some iron transfer paper for your printer and bootleg some shirts 😊

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  13. You took the words right out of my mouth! I feel so frustrated with the reducing variety of stuff that little boys actually like.. My son enjoys watching Sofia the first and loves playing with the kitchen set or baby dolls just as much as he loves cars and dinosaurs.
    It bugs me SO much when strangers and sometimes close family and friends too, get all judgmental about their innocent choices.

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  14. make your own. because, you know, you have like eons of free hours at hand. haha I just saw this idea, which is great too if he likes to color:)https://www.etsy.com/listing/253164808/rainy-day-kids-activity-shirt-childrens?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=my little pony shirt kids&ref=sr_gallery_40

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  15. Could you maybe find an iron on MLP & put it on a plain boys t-shirt for now?

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  16. I'll probably be right there with you soon. My Little Pony us the default cartoon of choice between my five year old daughter and two year old son (plus, I admit to being an adult MLP fan).

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