Even without the oversized signs, it’s not hard to differentiate the boys clothing section from the girls when shopping. One side usually has darker prints, larger sizes, and tons and tons of dinosaur graphic tees; the other side is filled with shades of pink and yellow, cupcakes, and frills. But what non-parents may not have noticed is the difference in durability.
Recently, 30-year-old mom and consignment store owner Meredith Alston called out major stores like Target for selling children’s clothes with a large gap in both durability and functionality across gendered lines. In a video that has reached over 3.5 million viewers — and an ongoing series that has found its way to hundreds of thousands of more screens — Meredith compares clothing she’s bought for her three children.
“Target, if you’re listening, I need to ask you a question,” she began her first video in the series. “My daughter needed some new pants for school, so in the girls section we’ve got these nice, stretchy, airy, thin leggings. Now let’s look at what the boys have.” She paused to pick up a pair of her son’s shorts, holding the noticeably heavy fabric in front of the camera. “Oh,” she started. “These are durable. These have an adjustable drawstring, and these have reinforced knees so they don’t fall apart every month.”
In response, exasperated parents pointed out other issues with boys versus girls clothing. One commented, “Don’t even get me started on girl shorts.” So, Meredith shared a few examples from her local target to highlight their point.
“These are the closest, most comparable things I could find, and look how many pockets and extra fabric the boys shorts have versus the girls, and yet the boys shorts are somehow cheaper.”
When looking at specific brands, Meredith noted that boys clothing tends to lean toward functionality, while girls clothes focus more so on design. “These are Cat & Jack size 6. These are designed for little girls. These pockets are just for design, not function. They do not serve a purpose… But these Cat & Jack pants that are the same size for little boys — made and marketed for little boys — all of these pockets definitely function. They’re aren’t just for design; they serve a purpose.”
“I just don’t think that clothing made for a 3-year-old girl should be smaller and less practical than clothing that’s made for an 18-month-old boy. Or, that clothing made for the same age boy should be more functional than clothing that’s made for the same age girl,” Meredith continued.
Throughout the comment section, some people suggested that Meredith simply shop in the boys section, to which she clarified that, while she’s done so in the past, this is not a solution. “I would never not buy my children something that’s practical and cute and functioning just because it wasn’t in the girls section… But it sounds like the boy moms of the world are very upset that there aren’t enough options in the boys section to begin with, so I feel like that doesn’t solve the problem, so much as it creates more of a problem.”
When BuzzFeed reached out to Meredith about her frustrations, she told BuzzFeed that the differences she’s noticed in each clothing section are endless. “The one that jumped out to me first was the sizing,” she said. “The average weight for both male and female children under 3 is essentially the same…and yet, the tops for toddler girls are shorter, tighter, and the sleeves are shorter than their male counterpart’s shirts.”
“Since I also have a 7-year-old, I’ve noticed that as she’s gotten older, the shorts available in the girls section for her are at least 3–4 inches shorter than the shorts in the boys section. It’s very hard to find shorts for either of [my girls] that have pockets, or that have pockets big enough to actually put anything in.
In one of my posts, I was comparing the blue leggings available in the girls section to the much more durable and functional joggers I found in the boys section. I got a lot of comments saying, ‘Those two things aren’t even comparable! Try comparing a pair of girls pants to the boys pants.’ But what I don’t think people realize is that the only thing available in the girls section are leggings! I mean, there are skinny jeans too, but [my daughter’s] school’s dress code prohibits jeans. So, for the most part, you’re kind of left with either blue leggings or shopping in the boys sections.”
This lack of functionality, she says, comes at the detriment to her daughters. “She was freezing wearing those leggings,” Meredith said. “Not only that, but they did absolutely nothing to protect her knees when she fell, AND, if you’ve ever seen a kid fall and hurt their knee, the first thing they do is roll up their pants leg to survey the damage. We were at the park one day and she fell, scraped her knee, but her leggings were so tight around her ankle/calf that she couldn’t roll them up. We wound up leaving the park early because of it! Kid’s clothing shouldn’t hinder them from participating in an activity just because it was poorly designed.”
“[My daughter is] also quite tall, so even the longest shorts available — at Target, at least — were quite short on her. Certainly too short to pass her school’s dress code, but also too short for her to really feel comfortable in.”
So why doesn’t she just stop shopping at Target? Well, that’s the wrong question. Instead, Meredith believes it’s the responsibility of the company to acknowledge the problem. “There’s no way they aren’t aware of [the issue], but they haven’t responded in any capacity, which is not at all unexpected! A corporation refusing to take responsibility for their failings is nothing new to consumers,” she said.
“I think that until consumers change their shopping habits, it’s unlikely that much will change, but that’s not to say that I think everyone should boycott Target because of this: The reason people continue to shop there is the same reason I’ve shopped there for years. It’s what I can afford, AND it’s so convenient,” she concluded. “I think that it’s really tough when you can only afford what you can afford and you only have time to run to one store to do your grocery shopping, clothes shopping, and household shopping because you’re busy raising your kids, working full time…the list goes on.”
“Parents are juggling a lot, and they have to do a lot of prioritizing. I think that these kinds of stores’ one and only concern is their bottom line, and unless they come out and say otherwise, I don’t think they’re going to budge until that’s affected,” she said.
BuzzFeed has reached out to Target for comment. We will update here if they respond.
In the meantime, if you’d like to keep up with Meredith and her consignment store, you can follow her on TikTok.