Jul 03 2006

Cheap Crap From China: Now Pint-Sized

Consumering is tedious enough without having to do it in some cavernous purgatory staffed by drooling imbeciles in polyester vests. Which is why one of my favorite things about the internet—I am old enough that I still can’t quite calm down about the internet—is that with a few flicks of the wrist I can entirely bypass the greasy subumbra of the soul-squashing mall and cause to appear on the stoop of my bungalow anything I can think of. Such as motorcycles, band-aids, and squirt guns.

Online shopping, of course, is not without its hazards. I dislike the hideous sadism of so many of the Flash-happy web designers, not to mention the probability that Homeland Security internet cops now know my straight-jacket size. But that’s a small price to pay for the indescribable luxury of remaining, as far as drooling imbeciles in polyester vests are concerned, an abstract figment.

Anyway, recently, because it’s 98 degrees up in this mug, I found myself in need of a couple of thin undershirts, the kind with spaghetti straps. The trick, if you’re me, is to find them without the popular nipple-concealing suspension engineering known as a ‘shelf bra’ (in exactly one week I will be entirely gazonga-free, at which moment will evaporate forever my obligation to cinch my ribcage with shelf bras. And all other hot, suffocating spandex). So I was doing a little online window shopping. All this to explain how I happened across J. Crew’s new kiddie site, where you can buy $150 cheap-crap-from-China silk gowns for toddlers to wear to weddings.

Here’s the splash page from the “Shop For Boys” section, captioned “Our new cast of critters.”

boys love critters at J Crew

And here’s the splash page from “Shop For Girls.” Caption? “Dresses, dresses, dresses.”

Girls love clothes

See, girls love clothes, not sailboats, dogs, or frogs.


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  1. Twisty, I got a press release last week about basketball camps sponsored by the government of a Denver suburb. According to the press release, at the boys’ camp, participants would do drills and improve their game. At the girls’ camp, participants would have fun and make new friends.

    I’ll be thinking of you next week.

  2. faultline.org/place/toad

    I am old enough that I still can’t quite calm down about the internet

    Me too.

    dislike the hideous sadism of so many of the Flash-happy web designers


    my straight-jacket size.

    Straitjacket. As in dire straits, not dire straights, who are another matter entirely, and I think I’m snatching that one for a blogpost title if you don’t beat me to it.

    in exactly one week I will be entirely gazonga-free

    Moved the date up a bit? I hope that’s just for someone’s convenience.

    Damn, we’re a pack of worrying grannies here lately.

    And to the meat of the matter: Yeah. Even the colors in the girly swatches are a strain on the pancreas. And the crab and shark on that one print don’t make up for the rest. And what the crazy fuck-all hail is a toddler doing at the kind of wedding where silk gowns are worn anyway? All else aside, people don’t seem to think about what jolly fun that stuff is for the toddler.

    Not to mention that the only thing that costs that much that ought to be put on a toddler is an electroplated coat of bronze. It you want ’em neat and tidy, take action! If not, cut the crap.

  3. My niece would love the frog.

  4. I hate the fact that even itty-bitty baby clothes are divided into boys vs. girls. I’ve resolved to buy baby shower gifts only in green or orange. Thank god the onesie is still unisex.

    Maybe we should all be wearing onesies. They look comfy, anyway. And no shelf bras, so Twisty should be happy. Whaddya think, Twisty: a linen onesie for those sultry Texas nights, lounging outside at twilight with a beverage of your choice?

  5. norbizness.com

    I want a lobster clasping a bulldog in its pincers while sitting on a duck’s back in the cockpit of a biplane.

  6. scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience

    While purveyors of children’s clothes may try to gender-sort everything, many parents just zoom right in for what they want to put on their kids — which means there are a lot of little girls wearing “boy” clothes and not a few boys wearing “girl” clothes. The little overalls, T-shirts, shorts, and pants fit equally well on whatever gendered kid one has; the big differences are colors, themes (kitties vs. dumptrucks), and amount of ruffles.

    Gifts from well-meaning relatives are another matter, but your better e-tailers are reasonably good with exchanges.

  7. About to be eaten by a really large-mouthed bass?

  8. bitchphd.blogspot.com

    Honest to god, I have been known to envy (and shop for PK on) the girls’ side of the aisle. The green and pink stripe thing, the plain blue below it, the pattern with the shark, and the pink and orange stripe thing next to that are *way* more appealing as clothing patterns than yet another godawful polo shirt (which look awful on small children, because their neck/shoulder ratio means polo collars make them look like they have no necks, which I always think makes the poor things look really uncomfortable). Especially with the appallingly preporiffic oars. Oars, for god’s sake. (Not to mention the stupid duck and hideous bulldog, etc.) Plus, the colors in the girls stuff, despite the irritating nature of all-pastel-all-the-time, are way cooler and more summer appropriate (especially in woven cotten) than heavy knit collared shirts in dark colors.

    Personally, I think all kids’ clothes should be unisex, in solid cheerful colors.

  9. What toddler’s need for a wedding is a babysitter. All other children’s clothing is best bought at garage sales and church bazaars. They outgrow the stuff faster than you can pay off the credit card. At least the boys get the durable cloth that stands up to a few washing, the girls get the wear and toss dresses that will teach them a lifelong addiction to mall shopping.

  10. bitchphd.blogspot.com

    Best of luck with the surgery, Twisty.

  11. http://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/ref=br_1_16/602-3412664-9073402?_encoding=UTF8&frombrowse=1&asin=B000ES4HX4


    The above links are for two spaghetti strap camisoles. They are cheap; they are crap, and I am certain they are from China. However, they are also shelf-bra free. I have a few myself. I would feel remiss if I did not point them out to you, since I have greatly enjoyed procrastinating in my studies by reading your wonderful blog.

  12. flyinfur.blogspot.com

    Twisty, I hope the surgery goes well and they give you lots of good drugs.

    CafeSiren, scrubs are a pretty good onesie equivalent for adults. All colors and prints, many worn by both sexes, and just as soft and comfortable as pajamas, plus more socially acceptable in public (I sort of shudder at the thought of onesies on adults).

    I have a son and a daughter and even though they are now 17 and 21, the wealth of clothing for girls and the dearth of clothing for boys STILL amazes me. My son was fond of tee shirts with animals when he was younger and they were impossible to find (sports and cartoon prints abounded), even though tee shirts are pretty much the only shirt you can buy for boys other than polos or dress shirts. Not only that, but the jeans my son likes have been sold for the past 10 years without a single change, while my daughter has to buy all the jeans she can find in her size when she finds a style she likes, because they won’t make the same thing the next year.

  13. saraarts.com

    Oh, good GAD. Why? Why? Why?

    Hey, good luck with your transition to booblessness. Are you still doing everything at once, or are you going in stages? Either way, here’s to good drugs, clean cuts, wounds that heal swiftly, and cancers that don’t come back.

  14. Grown-up onesies are good but have the same problem as one-piece bathing suit: Too much crotch hair shows through the sides. So I tried wearing just a long T-shirt and socks everywhere but tomato and coffee stains never wash off, so now I just wear a toga to work. You can fold the stains out of view and they never chafe. OK it’s not really a toga, it’s an old tablecloth.

  15. Yes, Twisty. I will be thinking of you, too, next week and sending you all the positive vibes I can muster. Echoing Sara’s wishes for good drugs, clean cuts and wounds that heal swiftly and most of all, cancers that don’t come back. She said it better than I could.

  16. My older son shopped in the “girls” section until he was six years old. He claimed the colors were more interesting and the clothes fit him better (for some reason, they were cut trimmer in the right places for his body). Not that he went for the frilly stuff, just for the colorful stuff.

    He also wore dresses in the summer until he started kindergarten, $1 each at thrift store of choice. On sticky hot days he insisted, swimsuit underneath, and I didn’t grudge him. He would matter-of-fact inform anyone believing he was a girl that he was “a boy in a dress”.

    I much preferred the Gymboree outfits I bought at a resale place – very colorful, very non-gendered. Why is that so hard? If kids want black, brown, blue or red, they can pick those.

    I had a red-state republican caregiver for them for a while. I pulled up one day to pick up my guys and her four year old son was prancing around the yard in a tutu, feather boa, and gold lame heels. Her take was “Four year olds can cross dress if they want. Gets it out of their system.”

  17. Twisty, I hope all goes well for you in the coming weeks. Lets hope they give you the really good drugs in really generous doses.

  18. This goes a short way towards articulating the links between infantalism, capitalism, and patriarchy.


    That children are born without manners had been considered by Puritans to be an enormous failing on their part. Eventually, the young were successful in overturning this view to the extent of convincing adults that it was the adult manners that were out of line with society and an embarrassment to youth.

    This triumphant progress was due not to the machinations of the young but to the yearnings of their elders. The adulation of family life in the nineteenth century and of youth itself in the twentieth century carried children from the bottom of the social heap to the center of the domestic circle to the pinnacle of consumer society.

    ref. Martin, Judith. Star-Spangled Manners . NY:W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 2003, pp. 193.

  19. Dear Twisty,
    You are a wondrous muse. Be brave, you have many thoughts going your way.
    I rediscovered this bit about pedophilic marketing practices in a concurrent round of blaming and ranting.

    That children are born without manners had been considered by Puritans to be an enormous failing on their part. Eventually, the young were successful in overturning this view to the extent of convincing adults that it was the adult manners that were out of line with society and an embarrassment to youth.
    This triumphant progress was due not to the machinations of the young but to the yearnings of their elders. The adulation of family life in the nineteenth century and of youth itself in the twentieth century carried children from the bottom of the social heap to the center of the domestic circle to the pinnacle of consumer society.

  20. doggedknits.com

    At least they figured out that girls like sharks. Because we do.

    Good luck next week. We’ll all be thinking of you.

    PS-Gap Favorite Cami. “Support”-system free. But if you’re actually not looking for cheap crap from China, you could do worse than Hanro.

  21. I have to wear a bra when I go to the grocery store in the summer. I hate the way bras feel…I imagine similar to how a horse feels with a harness…but I hate more the way males look at my breasts without the harness. As someone said, ‘Go get your own hard-on. I am not helping with that.’

    One good thing about winter….no harness. With a coat, the male eye can see nothing.

    I’ll be sending you healing thoughts next week…enjoy those drugs!

  22. onejewishdyke.wordpress.com

    I wish I could find that hound in the top row on a polo-style shirt in my size in a price range that I’m willing to pay. Since I won’t spend more than about $16 on a shirt, I am sure J. Crew and I don’t have any business. I don’t think I’ve ever been in one of their stores. As it is, all of my polo-style shirts have my company logo on them because they were free, the logo is kind of cute, and I don’t mind advertising the company since we’re a community non-profit and I think we do good work.

    Best of luck to you with the surgery. Heal soon so you can come back and entertain us some more. Or just because I’ve grown rather fond of your writing and hate the idea that the human behind it should feel crappy.

  23. Twisty, it worked. Although I don’t know if I like changing identities, but I guess it will have to do.


  24. The fashion differences are essential. Oh the impact clothes can make for shaping our most important and influential young anglo-saxon minds!

    For the future patriarch we have duck hunting with the president, offshore holdings, lobster feasts and deep sea fishing off the yacht, catching rare toads in the rainforests of guatamala while visiting Dole and Co. execs and lets not forget the importance of the locust, serves to keep Africans distracted whilst you mine their gold and oil.

    Now for the young lady we have dresses, dresses and more dresses all the better to train them early to be used to the functional, yet classical cotton dress and those nice non obstrusive pastel prints. No symbols here as her duties are best left unsaid.

  25. I hate those built-in shelf bras in tank tops also, breasts or no breasts.
    Whenever I try to put one on, the “shelf” part seems to escape upwards, causing unpleasant tangling. They are just useless anyways, and I shelf never buy one again. (What the hell…)
    But I do like the curry cauliflower stir fry I had for dinner tonight inspired by your recent photo. With cashews, regular peas, apples, and raisins, hooray!

  26. eugeniaandino.com

    When I saw the pictures before reading the text, I guessed that the cute embroiderings of animals were in children’s clothes and the pink ones were on adult women’s clothes and you were denouncing the stupid infantilisation of clothes for adult women. Which is something you could probably have also done.

  27. I suppose not having to wear a bra afterwards is like getting your cheap crap from China on sale rather than paying full price; that is, a little surprise that in no way makes up for the surgery aspect. This is me wishing you a good anesthesiologist and a speedy recovery after gazonga-removal.

    I for one am glad that my childhood summer uniform consisted of gray t-shirts (they hide dirt!) and homemade shorts. It wasn’t particularly gender-specific, but it was inexpensive and comfortable. What reason can there possibly be to buy a toddler anything from J. Crew? She or he will just destroy or outgrow it anyhow. I blame the Patriarchy for consumerism practiced on behalf of toddlers.

  28. Oh! Judith Martin quote! Thank you, camelhempsox.

    When in doubt, consult Miss Manners.

  29. thefemmedyke.com

    I totally shop for myself in the boy’s section at J. Crew since I’ve passed into my early 20s and matured out of adolescent girl sizes…

    I’m partial to the lobster.

  30. Morgan- How can a parent prove to the world that they truly LOVE their darling girl child? Ah, they can bankrupt themselves buying unnecessarily cute and expensive crap that will see five minutes wear before it is stained or outgrown. They can decorate the child like a Christmas tree with baubles and bangles, lace and trim until you cannot see the child underneath. Boy children need no such proof, of course you love your boys and so they can wear any darn thing they please.

  31. hedonisticpleasureseeker.wordpress.com

    I want to wear onesies. WAHHHHHHHHH.

    Which reminds me, so I must ask: Babies generally have no necks, so what’s up with the baby turtlenecks? The babies hate them and scream like stuck pigs when you try to pull them over their heads. WTF?

    My shopping suggestion: Boy’s clothes from Goodwill. Child to adult, saves ya tons of money. Also, if the kid refuses to wear it, you won’t care.

    I’m in love with tank tops (I refuse to call them, UG, “beaters”). I love the concept of NO buckles, buttons or zippers and am moving towards a lifestyle based entirely on stretchy knits. I recommend this way of dressing for kids too, because more than anything they like to be comfortable. I even sent my daughter to school in sweatpants for 10 years despite people suggesting it wasn’t “appropriate.”

  32. urban-hills.blogspot.com

    Twisty: good luck with the surgery. In the words of a friend of mine: ‘Damn, that morphine shit is good’. May your supply be plentiful and your recovery as painless as possible. I hope this boobage removal opens a can of whoop on the ass of the cancer, such that it never dares to return and darken your life.

    I partook in a ludicrous child-clothing conversation with two colleagues the other day which I feel compelled to report. One of them is pregnant. The other one likes to knit, is female, and wants to knit something for the baby in time for its birth. The conversation goes something like this (try not to cry):

    Knitter: so, do you know the sex of it?
    Preggers: no.
    Knitter: do you want to? Are you going to?
    Preggers: no.
    Knitter: see, this is the problem. I need time to knit something, so how will I know what to knit? You have to tell me so I can have the knitting done in time for the birth!
    Me: I don’t understand why you need to know the sex for that.
    Knitter: because it could be a boy or a girl.
    Preggers: so?
    Knitter: Gah! If it’s a boy, I can’t very well present you with a pink cardigan, can I?
    Me: I suggest you knit something in a neutral colour. What’s wrong with green, for example? Or yellow? Come to think of it, why shouldn’t a boy wear pink? It would certainly make for interesting conversations.
    Preggers: I’m sure that whatever you knit will be lovely.
    Knitter: you people just don’t understand. That’s not how it works!

    At that point I was just too flabergasted to continue. The knitter is aged 25 and should know better. Everyone should know better, but they don’t. It starts when you’re still in the womb.

  33. faultline.org/place/toad

    I want a lobster clasping a bulldog in its pincers while sitting on a duck’s back in the cockpit of a biplane.

    I should have worn a pair of ragged claws
    Scuttling across the floors of silent Ts.

    Happy Fourth of July, everyone, anywhere.

  34. feminista.com

    I like these shirts:

  35. I remember a Hothead Paisan comic, in which she went off on a woman pushing a baby in a stroller, and one of her targets was that little scrunchy elastic frilly band that so many people like to put around girl babies’ heads. I believe that HP’s point was that it was sad and stupid that so many people were so determined to make sure that, even bald and squirmy, their little girls were obviously gendered.

    Except she said it with a great deal more profanity and yanking of said mother’s hair.

    Girl babies get hairdos, even when they have no hair to “do.” God forbid a girl isn’t primping before she can crawl.


    Gah, gah, gah.

    (And anyone, male or female, who uses their child as a fashion accessory should have their parenting license revoked. Just my opinion.)

  36. feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu

    Well, in a sideways and not really responsive but not completely irrelevant way, this may be of interest: http://feministlawprofs.law.sc.edu/?p=709

  37. sashaundercover.blogspot.com

    And I like these http://www.barenecessities.com/Jockey_product_JOCKEY1205_,size,.htm
    They wear, launder, and breathe well. That modal stuff is made from wood fwiw.

    Best on the surgery. May fine karma follow you.

  38. kakamak.blogspot.com

    Oh hell, what happened?
    From State Line Tack, $9.99 a piece, no bra, cotton, plenty of colors, and yes, you can them plain without a logo.

    Trying again — quite a sizeable link: http://www.statelinetack.com/global/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTprd_id=845524441813506&FOLDERfolder_id=2534374302032823&ASSORTMENTast_id=2534374302024175&bmUID=1152047417244&itemNo=4&Nao=0&Ntt=tank top&In=Horse&previousText=tank top&N=156695

  39. kakamak.blogspot.com

    Oh fer!
    Just go to State line tack and search for “tank top.”
    Fer fuck’s sake.

  40. Kaka Mak, check out tinyurl.com to help with those unweildy, breaking URLs. I think this is where you wanted it to go?:

    My vote for truly inexpensive cheap crap camis — top right corner, just to the left of the shelf ones, buy 2 or more and get them for $6 each. Also, their long-layering and V-neck camis are shelf-free:

  41. Well, I messed that up royally. Does this format do automatic hot-linking, so that I don’t have to put an ‘a href’ tag? I guess I shall see.

    Anyway, my vote again, for inexpensive cheap crap camis, most available without shelf bras:


  42. If you don’t mind white you can get them at Dharma trading on line. That is where I buy stuff to paint and dye. I wear cotton long sleeve undershirts all winter instead of a bra.
    I wish you the best possible outcome in your surgical trimming.

  43. I solved part of that problem for me one time. I bought my newborn grandson a Led Zepplin outfit. I would have bought the same thing if he had been a girl. It didn’t exactly fight the patriarchy but it sure pissed off the over intrusive and psuedo-religious in laws.

    Best wishes on the surgery.

    You are often quite the light of my internet day.

  44. I am losing weight and cannot wait until the time comes when two prominent fixtures and clothing restrictions will be significantly reduced to their pre-obese, manageable size. THen I can also enjoy the wear of which many of you speak.

    All of my children were born rather baldish. My son first, then my two girls. My middle daughter came soon enough that I saved many of her older brother’s baby clothes, which were for the most part, what I thought was gender neutral.

    But wouldn’t ya know it, people constantly came up to me with my daughter in my arms and would exclaim, “What a handsome boy!”. It wasn’t due to overly boyish clothes mind you, it was due to lack of frills and lace, which I abhore.

    Might I add that my ‘handsome boy’ grew up to be quite the beautiful woman. So there you sexist pigs!

  45. Kaka Mak,

    Try tinyurl.com or makeashorterlink.com for those too-sizable, unwieldy, breaking URLs:


  46. You are the light of my internet day as well! Wishing you as easy a surgical escapade as humanly possible, seriously professional post-op pain management, and bye-bye to the cancer and any future chance of such. Lots of love to you!!

  47. Good luck on your surgery next week. May it go smoothly and be free of complications!

    Urban, that story is hilarious. What did people do for baby showers in the pre-ultrasound days? Other than make up BS about how you could tell the baby’s gender by whether it was being carried high or low, or whatever. Clearly people coped. I blame the patriarchy.

  48. guerillawomentn.blogspot.com

    As long as we’re talking fashion, Twisty: The uniboob look is so last year. It’s about time you joined the B-flats. Speaking for myself, no breasts beats one breast fer sure. No brassieres, no self-exams, no mammograms, plus you’re symmetrical once again. (Patriarchal moment: My second surgeon proudly compared the beauty of “HIS” scar to the apparently less-attractive one my first surgeon had wrought. You know I’m not kidding.)

    Assuming they’ll leave your lymph nodes the fuck alone this time, this boobular amputation should be much less disturbing and recovered from more quickly than the first. I’ll be thinking of you next Monday darling Twisty, and as always wishing nothing but the very best of everything for you.

  49. Once upon a time (in pre WW1 Europe and North America) both young boys and girls wore dresses anyway. Babies of either sex would be dressed in white/creams, and lots of lace if you could afford it . Older boys and girls would wear knickerbockers and smocks, but more formally would just be in a smaller version of adult clothes.

    Check out these pictures:



    Both boys.

  50. I can easily understand why a person wouldn’t want toddlers at a wedding, but I attended my sister Mary Lou’s when I was 4. I’ve never had more fun at a party than dancing the Twist (this was 1964) to the Beatles with my sister the bride, who wore a massive crinoline. My little heart would’ve been broken had I been left home with a babysitter.

    Of course, silk dresses would never be the proper attire for any wedding in my family. They are raucous affairs where alcohol flows freely and salacious songs are sung in the tongue of the Ukraine.

    May you recover from your surgery and its aftereffects faster than a person can recover from the hangover brought on by attending a Polish wedding.

  51. Justtesting, South America too.

    Unless your lineage were already from there, in which case you’d have nary a stitch on your body anyway.

  52. I usually left my boy in a diaper all summer and winter clothes in Canada just leave you guessing anyway. Now he gets to pick what he wants within a price range. I’ll have him trained to shop sales in no time flat.

  53. echoing the sentiments: may your docs have a bedside manner, good drugs be readily available, the healing happen fast, and may you have minions to answer your every wish. i still hate the cancer.

  54. reclusiveleftist.com

    Good luck with the surgery. Five days to symmetry, right? Five days to symmetry and a shitload of morphine!

  55. Thanks for pointing out historical fact, justtesting. Back then there were no “girls’ clothes” or “boys’ clothes” — just children’s clothes.

  56. Does nobody else remember the horrid trend in the late 80-early 90s era of “bodysuits”? (I think that was what they were called.) Basically adult onsies that snapped in the crotch for easy bathroom access, except of course they decided that since they were for women they needed to be french cut. They were NOT comfortable at all, because without the diper to act as a buffer they produced the biggest weggies ever.

  57. Does nobody else remember the horrid trend in the late 80-early 90s era of “bodysuits”?

    I do, I do!

    And weren’t you supposed wear them with stirrup pants? Ugh!

    On the other hand, this idea of the adult onesie has made me nostalgic for a certain garment I purchased c. 1985, produced by “Ton sur ton” or something similar, that I used to own. It was cotton, it was loose, it was all one piece (long pants, long sleeves, button up the front). Going to the bathroom was a pain, but it was my favorite hang around at home loungewear for years. I wonder where it went. I don’t seem to own it anymore.

    And add me to your list of well-wishers.

  58. hedonisticpleasureseeker.wordpress.com

    The adult onesie! DR DENTONS! One piece long johns (red) with the flap in the back! I lived in them while in college in Minnesota.

  59. ozma.blogs.com/hah

    It’s crazy how they’ve gendered the entire world. Dinosaurs and sharks are male. Pandas and rabbits female. If you do go to target.com for a t-shirt stop buy the toy section. It’s absurd. Apparently, by buying my daughter a train set or a firetruck (both things she is interested in, toddlers like vehicles for some reason) I’m already crossing some significant gender boundary.

    At the moment, she wants BOYS TOYS. (Toys, that is. Fun toys, like trains and boats. But they are BOYS TOYS.)

  60. wendyhome.com

    I might be a boy (trapped?) in a fabulous girls body, are capitalists trying to wring the price of a sex-change operation out of me? Well I wont do it. I’m going to go ooOOOOooo at frogs and that’s the end of it. But I will NEVER purchase a pair of Khaki Cargo pants, however long I live in the Pacific NW.

  61. jlgkgku

    extreme gay asian sex boys

  62. Mandos

    And? Your point is?

  1. Raising WEG

    Sex and Sexuality…

    My post about flip-flops generated a lot of good conversation, and I appreciate that. You may not realize I appreciate your comments, because I’m always throwing aside my inbox in favor of my typepad box, but I do. Thank you….

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