When I was growing up I was really into fashion dolls.
Barbie, Sindy… even Polly Pocket when they made her big and you could change her clothes. But I stopped playing with those dolls when school and boys got more appealing. I left them in the past along with other childhood relics as I grew up.
I would argue that making and raising babies is a pretty solid marker or being ‘grown-up’ (well, we like to think so.) So why on earth some parents to treat their children like those same fashion dolls I grew out of so many years ago is completely and utterly beyond me.
Seeing a pair of children – or even worse, three or four – herded along by smug parents, dressed in identical outfits is cringey at best. At worst, it makes you think of some creepy religious cult where parents raise their children with one singular identity and quite possibly the same name as well.
The point about identity is, I think, the most crucial part. Kids should be taught from a young age that the person they are is their biggest asset. They should be encouraged to set goals, both personal and material, and curate their characters with care and enthusiasm. We all strive to be the best versions of ourselves – why should that version match someone else’s under the age of ten? In a few years, when they hit their teens, you’ll be spending hundreds ensuring your child looks the same as all the other kids in their school – trainers, GHDs, the lot – why would you actively enforce the idea that acceptance only comes in the form of blending in?
Obviously, dressing our children is as much a part of parenting as wiping bums and toddler tantrums. Young children don’t choose their own clothes, so it’s our responsibility to make sure their happy and comfortable in what we dress them in. And yeah, very young kids won’t notice – but my two boys would have been absoloutely mortified to look back on old photos (the photos, my god, the photos) to see that I’d dressed them the same out of some perverse sense of authority, or because I thought they looked ‘cute’.
It’s an invitation for strangers to comment – in fact, it’s more of a demand – and I cannot bare validating parents’ narcissism by cooing over their weird matching kids. It’s bad enough when they’re around the same age, or even the same sex – but dressing your three and eight year old girl and boy in the same clothes just seems like more hassle than it’s worth.
I’m against ridiculously gendered clothing, but if even a hint of pink had shown up in my boys’ wardrobes they’d be in their Spiderman onesies for a week, purely out of protest. The practicalities are completely not in your favour. Finding matching neutrally coloured, jeans, jumpers, trainers and the occasional hat in wildly different sizing that both or all of your children would be happy to wear? Wasting precious time in the morning rummaging for that exact Go Jetters T-shirt in all three of your childrens’ pigsties (sorry, bedrooms)? No way.
It’s even worse – unforgivable, really – when parents of twins dress them the same. As if you’re not up against enough developing a strong sense of self when there’s another small human made of exactly the same DNA as you are, some parents feel the need to really hammer home the point by forcing them into identical clothes. We can see your children are twins, and they would be just as cute without matching hair bobbles and shoelaces (and everything in between).
Like many of the more questionable parenting tactics, my issue with dressing children the same is that its selfish. The kids gain nothing from it; in fact, in my opinion they suffer for it. I would call it lazy parenting if it didn’t clearly take so much effort. The only one to benefit here is the smug parent who’s decided matching offspring is a good look, and has the pleasure of getting their own way, regardless of how the kids feel about it.