This is a blog post I have been meaning to write for months and, whilst not inherently political in intention, now or at any time, I just feel recent events have made publishing it now even more pertinent.
Just over two years ago, I experienced an increase in the number of brands contacting me to ask if I would take pictures of my daughter in their clothing. As a rather youthful (in Instagram terms) account, I was a bit bowled over but nonetheless thankful for both the clothing and for the brands' trust in my photography, as was my daughter, who loved to put her own stamp on our creative endeavours.
So bowled over was I that, despite my instinct against on occasion, I wasn't always as discerning as I might have been. It wasn't long, however, before both Lucy and I realised the rather patriarchal nature of most of the clothing. Picture this - if, as a grown woman, you put on a dress and it has a zip or buttons at the back - how on earth are you able to do it up on your own without help?? As an adult, you might grapple along on your own and manage it somehow or other, but as a young girl, you have little chance. I said to my partner - imagine when you have to get up to work at 4 am (as is the norm for him) and you have to wake someone up just to do up your shirt, do you think that's acceptable? A big fat no was his response, but I could tell by his reply that his eyes were opened to something that he had hitherto never even thought about.
But I now think about it ALL THE TIME - this is the 21st century and yet still women and girls are subjugated even in respect of their clothing, often designed by women!
So why, oh why, do designers of clothing for girls and women think it's remotely acceptable in this day and age (was it ever really acceptable in any day and age?!), to create pieces that we are unable to dress ourselves in unaided?
I feel it's time to take a stand. If you do too, please join me in my #kidsclothingforfreedom hashtag on Instagram - you can find me at @ali__dover and @alidovertextiles too if you feel drawn.
And, if you're interested in clothing for girls and boys which doesn't impinge on their ability to dress themselves unaided, here are my top choices from the large number of independent brands I have worked with:
This is obviously a short list so far, and I will try to add to it over time, but it is testament to the worryingly large number of beautifully crafted clothing brands I have worked with, whom I cannot add simply because they produce clothing which is a nightmare for children (girls in particular) to dress themselves in independently!
Here's to #kidsclothingforfreedom and thank you for reading - if you would like to add to this list, or simply add to the conversation, please do comment below!
- Ali x