Keep your “boyfriend jeans” away from my four year old

I’ve noticed a trend in recent years, for stores like Gap and Old Navy to introduce baggier style jeans for women and call them “Boyfriend” jeans. You know, like you just slipped on a pair of your male lover’s pants and look how great they look on you? But let’s be clear, you don’t actually want to wear men’s pants. Since wearing men’s clothing might make people think you’re a lesbian (which you’re obviously not), let’s make sure everyone knows you are just trying your boyfriend’s jeans on.
I have much more to say about gendered clothing and the difficulties of finding clothes that don’t stick strictly to norms about gender, but I have a different issue to take on here.
Apparently boyfriend jeans are not just for adult women anymore. Gap now has “boyfriend” jeans for young girls, all the way down to age 4.

The must-have boyfriend jean with the comfy-cool style you’re little fashionista loves, made just for her. Add ballet flats and a soft T for a sweet look, you’ll both adore.

Not only do four year olds not need boyfriends, they don’t need weird labeling so they can wear baggy jeans, or whatever else Gap thinks these jeans need to labeled for.

Join the Conversation

  • NurseyPunk

    I used to love the way “boyfriend” jeans fit, but I love the way guys jeans (I call them my crossdressing girlfriend jeans) actually fit way nicer. And they’re less expensive and are made better.
    Why is that anyway? Girls clothing is always so thin and so expensive.
    They just want to make a baggy, “tomboyish” trend girly and make money off of it.

  • ooperbooper

    I can’t fit into men’s sizes because I have an ass. So what happens is that even though I wear an 8 in women’s sizes which translates to a 30 waist in men’s the 30 doesn’t fit because the hips are tiny! So I go up a size in the waist and then you have the dreaded tight around the hips loose around the waist fit. AND they don’t make men’s pants that are short enough for me. I need a 28 inch inseam. Try finding that in a men’s size. It’s not easy.
    So my point is that I’m glad they make women’s pants that look more like men’s pants. I like having an alternative to super low-rise jeans. I don’t care what they call them. Anything that makes finding pants easier is okay by me.

  • Sarah Elizabeth

    I wear the boyfriend cut jeans a lot and sadly, I’ve never even thought about trying on a pair of men’s jeans to see how they look on me. I guess the advertising got me on this one.

  • Miriam

    I agree with you that finding jeans is impossible for many women–me included.
    Why can’t we have jeans of all sizes, shapes and styles without categorizing them this way?
    What they call the jeans does matter to me, and having one style of “boyfriend” jean isn’t going to solve the bigger problem that fashion sizes and norms don’t work for most people.

  • Tinnie

    could i possibly go into my gap store and complain to the manager this strange sexualization of young girls?

  • llevinso

    So I just pulled up Old Navy’s women’s jean page and it is utterly ridiculous. These are the “styles” they have listed: Dreamer, Weekend, Skinny, Diva, Sweetheart, Flirt and Goddess. WTF? Skinny is pretty much the only one I understand. What happened to styles like flare, boot cut, straight-leg, relaxed fit…you know, where you could actually determine what the style meant?

  • Daniel Koffler

    this is also a problem for us men with relatively large thighs and relatively small waists, thanks to the horrifying (to me anyway) trend towards skinny jeans.
    i’ve discovered after years of frustration with denim that there are a few lines out there that cater to my body type — especially seven, true religion, and affliction (and, truth be told, abercrombie, but i absolutely won’t wear their stuff). if you’re looking for men’s jeans those might be a good place to start.

  • Lizzard

    I’m also a fan of looser-fitting pants. I’ve never felt comfortable in the tight pants that are more often directly marketed to women. However, after years of wearing both “girl” pants and “boy” pants, I’ve found one major advantage of the former: less air space in the crotch area. It’s a little uncomfortable when my thighs rub together through that space (or having to ameliorate the problem by pulling the pants way up to your waist- I’m short), and also odd-looking when you sit down and the extra fabic forms an awkward bulge in your lap.
    Even if the pants have an unfortunate, heteronormative name, I’m glad that Old Navy and the like make jeans that don’t force women to show off every inch of their legs.

  • rebekah

    why can’t we just make baggy jeans for little girls and call them “play jeans”. Because truly that is the point of jeans on little girls. Allow them to have room to move, without the pants squeezing their legs and making it impossible for them to play. Marketing the same kind of jeans to the little girls as to their mothers is a good idea though. So, I say we call both of them the “play jean” line. It makes it clear that they are loose enough to move around in, while still looking like “woman’s jeans”.

  • squiddie

    I too love looser pants, but I’m not a fan of the “boyfriend” style. I like that Old Navy calls them “Weekend” jeans, though I guess that implies you’re only supposed to wear them when you’re being lazy and sloppy around the apartment…not everywhere like I do.
    Also, this is just me being nit-picky, but Gap made a grammatical error in their item description. It should be “your little fashionista” (ick), not “you’re little fashionista”.

  • liz

    I agree. The name “boyfriend jeans” sounds like compulsory heterosexuality to me. Good points in rebekah’s reply and in the original post. Thanks for pointing out why the name rubbed me the wrong way and I was not sure why.

  • llevinso

    I think a lot of you are missing the point (not about the little girl jeans but about the jeans in general).
    Why do we have to settle for just being happy that there are jeans made specifically for women that aren’t incredibly tight but they happen to have a horrible name? Why can’t we have those same jeans with a better name? We can have both! I’m sick of settling!

  • ooperbooper

    I see your point Miriam but personally I can’t get riled up about this.
    I spent years toiling away in retail hell and you don’t have to tell me that there are a lot of things wrong with the whole industry. And I remember in the girl’s sizes that they used to sell at JC Penny the baggy fit was called “husky”. Nothing like telling a young girl that she’s considered husky for not being able to fit into skinny jeans. For a while I worked at Title 9 which is a great company that provides practical outdoor/fitness clothing to women of all shapes and sizes. But I still felt dumb selling customers “goddess” yoga pants.
    So I suppose I agree with you but I just don’t see this as a big deal. I don’t want to make a lesser of two evils argument about boyfriend fits vs. low-rise fits because I understand that the whole system needs to be turned on its head. It’s just that I don’t think that alone will solve the problem. No two bodies are alike and that’s why there’s such an annoying and intimidating range of styles.

  • norbizness

    You think this is bad, wait until Def Leppard “half the material missing” jeans make a comeback.

  • animaltalker

    My daughter is 13 and I still think it’s inappropriate marketing. A 13 year old shouldn’t be thinking about boyfriends, much less wearing their jeans.
    Miriam: Just wait until your darling 4 yo is 8 and you try and find shirts for her. “Flirt” “Sexy” “Hot” and the like is emblazoned on little girls shirts. Really? For 8 year olds?

  • RsubC

    i’m a little confused. first off, i wasn’t aware that they made boys and girls jeans that are actually different – prepubescent children are nearly sexless, physically. secondly, i’m perplexed why gap would make this colossally goofy marketing choice for kids when i haven’t seen an adult size “boyfriend” jean there in like 3-4 years. their “cute” names have been more or less replaced by semi-descriptive names: essential, classic, curvy (hah, good one), long and lean. maybe they’re into hail mary territory financially; they’ve been circling the drain for quite some time. not sure this is the answer.

  • SociologicalMe

    Store managers don’t make these kinds of decisions. The only thing they might be able to do for you is give you contact info for people higher on the food chain.

  • sushi

    They have style names for everything- shoes, tops, etc. That’s just the way it is.
    Don’t shop at stores whose clothing you find inappropriately named if it’s an issue. Otherwise, I’d suggest just finding some jeans you like, no matter what they’re called, wearing them, and being happy.

  • cattrack2

    I think marketing “boyfriend jeans” to 4 yo girls is tasteless and, frankly, disgusting. As to marketing them to women, I think its truth in advertising: You know what it means when you see the term. Kinda like ‘boy shorts’ and those Van Heusen shirts from the ’90s…Manufacturers follow markets & until we see a majority of people decline genderized clothing, this is the reality. I think it works for most ppl.
    As for your earlier post, Llevinso, I’m with you, but thats what marketers call selling the vision, not the reality. Hell, I never really figured out the difference b/tn flares & boot cut…but then I’m no fashionista.

  • ooperbooper

    Thanks for your reply Daniel Koffler. My brother actually has the same issue. I guess the moral of the story is that shopping for pants is no fun for anybody.

  • Miriam

    Hi all–Just so there is no confusion, I don’t actually have a four year old (currently childless) the title was more for emphasis. Thanks for all the comments!

  • katemoore

    Old Navy’s line is called “Sweetheart,” which is a bit better.
    I have problems having a problem with the line when they’re the only ones that fit me.

  • llevinso

    “That’s just the way it is.”
    Ugh I hate that response. So…? We’re not allowed to be annoyed by it then? Or offended? Or want and fight for it to be changed? I don’t understand your point.

  • LTB

    More importantly, if “you’re little fashionista” was less concerned with style as a toddler she could learn that “you’re” is a contraction meaning “you are” and the correct word here would be the possessive “your.” What the crap GAP? As an entire company you must be as dumb as your boyfriend jeans sound.

  • lostingenerica

    I absolutely refuse to buy jeans from Old Navy because of the names. “Diva?” That just makes me think of my menstrual cup. I’m not a diva, or a princess, or a sweetheart!!! I just want jeans with ADULT NAMES.

  • SarahMC

    Well apparently Sushi doesn’t understand the complaint, so you’re even!
    Great post, Miriam.

  • Chrissy

    I think the Old Navy jeans have a little bit of sexism, or at least slut shaming. The “Flirt” style is tighter and lower rise (“sexier”), whereas the “Sweetheart” style is looser. Of course a “sweetheart” wouldn’t wear anything sexy, and if someone wears tighter jeans, she’s a “Flirt”! Ugh.
    It makes me a little uncomfortable because I do like Old Navy jeans since they are well made and relatively inexpensive. But I don’t like the creepy names.

  • Comrade Kevin

    Pants are difficult to find for men, too, because there’s no such things as a standardized style. I have pants with posted waist sizes of 36, 38, and 40 respectively because one company’s 36 is a 38.
    But as for this, the question is WHY? I remember when preteen girls dressed like girls and it wasn’t all that long ago.

  • argolis

    Because it’s easier to say “the Dreamer” than “classic rise, straight through the hip, contoured waist band, boot-cut jeans.”

  • argolis

    Oh man, you totally owned them by pointing out a common grammatical error!

  • Gopher

    ‘Play’ jeans for a woman can seem a bit infantalizing.

  • argolis

    Lol. I don’t think Old Navy is trying to “slut shame” the women they are selling jeans to.

  • sara

    Funny–I’ve never actually understood what “boyfriend jeans” meant!* Why not just give jeans names that describe how they fit!
    *Summary of my thought process: Are they jeans you wear to get a boyfriend? Jeans your boyfriend will like? Do they have extra big back pockets to facilitate that gross thing some couples do where they walk around with their hands stuck down each other’s back jeans pockets? Maybe it’s code for easy access? Honestly, the idea that it meant “jeans cut like men’s jeans” never occurred to me.

  • rebekah

    that was kind of my point. I am grateful for these styles of jeans. Boyfriend cuts are the only ones that I can find that actually fit me at all. But I do not like the reference that they are a guy style. Women like baggy jeans too. But a line under a name such as “play” would not only be more appropriate for little girls but would also be a more neutral tone for adult women, and the jeans are meant to be moved around in so the term would be emphasized

  • Toongrrl

    Back when I was a kid (1990’s), kid’s jeans were JEANS.

  • SociologicalMe

    I do enjoy Lane Bryant’s new-ish system of identifying jeans styles. Despite the other issues with the store and franchise and all that, I like red triangles and blue dots or whatever better than Dreamer and Flirt.

  • SociologicalMe

    Pointing out grammatical errors in certain contexts can be classist and racist. But since you don’t seem to be saying this, I’m not sure what your issue is with LTB’s comment.

  • Terrils

    That they’re illiterate and sexist, to me, is two reasons not to buy their junk. I agree that if people focused more on their education and less on how their a$$ looks in jeans (and applied those same standards to their children), we’d be a better nation.

  • jeana

    I actually don’t care what they’re called since I don’t pay attention to that as much. I just want them to fit me perfectly and look like they’re tighter than they really are but be comfortable at the same time. Probably asking for too much.

  • maria

    um, i’ve bought “boyfriend” style jeans for my 8-year-old stepdaughter. they’re called BOYS’ JEANS.
    seeing as how prepubescent girls’ bodies are almost exactly like prepubescent boys’ bodies, and much less like women’s bodies, there’s no reason that girls’ jeans should be cut like women’s jeans. none.
    from what i understand, the idea behind “boyfriend” style jeans is that they offer the comfort of men’s jeans, but in a cut that’s friendlier to women’s bodies (many women have already mentioned that they can’t wear men’s clothes because they don’t allow for breasts and hips). but girls don’t have breasts or hips. this is just another reason for clothing companies to make something separate “for girls” so we’ll buy more stuff.

  • SociologicalMe

    Right, because clothing companies always have the utmost respect for their target audience.

  • katemoore

    The slang word “flirt,” used in this context, has positive connotations, not negative.

  • sushi

    No of course you should be both annoyed and offended. Grievously so! And you should expend every possible ounce of your energy fighting to right the wrong that is the fact that products have names, and that a company can’t posibly please everyone, or meet the expectations of the ever changing whims of political correctness.
    I mean, right now I’m wearing a peasant dress (so pretty!) and I’m carrying a hobo bag. Wait!
    Is my clothing classist?
    This is small stuff sweating if ever I’ve seen it.

  • pepper

    Today I leaked into my Gap Jeans. Does that mean I was wearing a Diva Cut?

  • SociologicalMe

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the concept of flirting. But pairing the word “flirt” with jeans that are tighter and have a lower waist- design elements that are associated with sexuality- is problematic. Is wearing tight clothes the only way to flirt? Is anyone wearing tight jeans going to be seen as automatically consenting to sexual activities? (The “tight jeans” defense was actually used in a rape case in the past).

  • pepper

    I wish they would come out with a pair of jeans that fit comfortably without exposing half my ass when I bend at the waist AND didn’t imply only my boyfriend deserves them.

  • SociologicalMe

    If you don’t think discussing language and clothing are important, then put your energy elsewhere. Meanwhile, some reading for you:

  • Prerna

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought so.

  • sara

    Well, until we all learn to sew our own clothes, or until made-to-order customization technology gets to the point that we can all have jeans matched exactly to our unique measurements/needs without hiring a tailor–and this is something that will be possible in the relatively near future–there is going to have to be some type of categorization, because the companies that produce clothes need to do be able to produce a lot of items in each of a constrained number of sizes/styles. That doesn’t excuse giving the styles stupid names, or choosing to offer them in a range of sizes that doesn’t actually reflect the range of sizes in the population of women today, though.

  • sara

    Flares have bigger flares (more like bell bottoms, but not quite that big) than bootcut.
    And I’ve NEVER understood what “boyfriend” jeans meant!