Little Girls Need Pockets Too: Sexism in the Fashion Industry



Screenshot from @HKaczynski’s Twitter


If I had to rank all the things I love in life (e.g. Mac n’ cheese, Frank Ocean, big dogs), my three year old sister would be suspiciously close to the top. Standing at a whopping three feet and seven inches, she has brains, beauty, and so much sass. I mean, she’s definitely funnier than me (it’s fine, everything’s fine). Definitely cooler than me-which all of my friends agree on… sigh. And so painfully better at math than me. Even still, something we seem to be evenly matched on is our absolute detest for the sexist patriarchy that we live in. Even though I am a nineteen year old WGSS major and she’s you know, three, there seems to be issues that the both of us just can’t seem to get over.


Take for example, an interaction I observed between her and my mother last weekend. It was that glorious time of year known as “Parents Weekend” and my sister, mother, and I were just leaving Tunnel City full of caffeine, sugar, and pumpkin spice. As we approached the car, my sister turned to my mother, hands buried deep in the pockets of her tweed peacoat and exclaimed: “Mommy!! There’s pockets in my coat!”. Her smile was wide, eyes were bright, and hands were emptying the candy and stickers she had been clenching in her tiny fists. The whole situation filled me with so many different emotions. First, I had an “aw how cute” moment because five minutes before she was honestly being kind of annoying. Second, I looked to my mother, eager to hear her response. Without missing a beat, she smiled and calmly said: “I know! So awesome, isn’t it? I wish all of our clothes had pockets in them” to which my sister furiously nodded in agreement. Thirdly, I felt saddened. Both had acknowledged the awesomeness of pockets, yet both knew that such a feature was merely a luxury. Think about that for a second. Pockets in men/boy’s clothing are an absolute necessity, while in women/girl’s fashion they are simply an afterthought.


Obviously there are deeply sexist reasons for this disparity that date back to the 17th century. Rachel Lubitz explains that “According to London's Victoria and Albert Museum, while pockets in menswear were often sewn directly into garments (like they still are today), women had to get crafty and wrap a sack with a string around their waists and tuck it way under their petticoats” (“The Weird, Complicated, Sexist History of Pockets”). Eventually, this sack-on-a-string evolved to what we would now call a purse. Yet, even with this handy, cute, and fashionable accessory, women and girl’s clothing is still antiquated AF. I mean really though… 2018… and pockets for femme folk are still a pleasant surprise? Come on.


Similarly, it’s also worth examining the pocket-less structures of most girl’s clothing and their subsequent psychological effects. For when prioritizing presentation over functionality, fashion designers send the message that girls simply do not need practical clothing. Where is my sister supposed to put her toy hammer or stethoscope when she is climbing up the slide on the playground? What about the handful of chips she (in)conspicuously stole from my step-dad’s plate? Where is she supposed to put them when she needs to perform emergency surgery on Hallie the Hippo? In the sewn-shut compartment on the front of her shirt? Oh, please.


In the end, all good things take time. And while it appears to be common knowledge that little girls need pockets, the mainstream fashion industry just isn’t quite there yet. But do not fret, reader! There are plenty of great sites that specifically design practical clothing for young girls. Two of which include: and Unfortunately, the misogynistic culture for which we live in has many overwhelming hurdles for young girls and women to overcome, yet in speaking our truth we can hope to overcome them, one pocket at a time.