Bestselling author Kate Long posted a thread on Twitter that showed girls’ clothing in the retailer’s store carrying messages such as “Be good do good”, “Grateful”, “Be optimistic”, and “Be kind”.
Meanwhile, the messaging on boys’ clothing displayed slogans such as “Explore, nothing holding you back”, “Power”, “Awesome adventures”, and “Future”.
Long, author of The Bad Mother’s Handbook, wrote that Primark’s message to young girls is to “be compliant and passive”.
“Always think of others. Put on a pleasant, smiling face for that is your job in the world,” she said.
Meanwhile, boys were not told to be “loving, kind, grateful, joyful, perfect or positive”.
“Can anyone spot a difference in tone here? A difference in narrative? Boys are awesome in themselves and don’t need to consider anyone else,” Long wrote.
“Boys are about *doing* and girls are about *feeling*. Boys take what they want’ girls consider others.
“It’s incredibly sexist and outdated and unhelpful to both boys and girls,” she continued. “Stop telling girls their place is to serve others! Stop telling boys they should have nothing to do with kindness and love! What are you, a throwback to the 1950s?”
Long has previously shared gendered messaging on children’s clothing, and found similar items in the children’s wear section of Tesco in October last year.
Her Twitter thread received messages of support, with many people saying they wished clothing “wasn’t so gendered”.
One person wrote: “This is such an important thread! Unconscious bias is everywhere! I spend my whole childhood pushing against traditional ‘girl’ stuff. I’m 43!
“I can’t believe this is still the state of it. I teach and one nine-year-old last week told me a nurse is a ‘girl doctor’. They were corrected!”
Another added: “It’s the mums that buy this stuff that worry me. I met a woman with two young children, she said her little boy would grow up to be an astronaut or scientist. When I asked about her baby girl she replied, ‘I’m hoping she’ll be pretty enough to marry a footballer!’”
A third pointed out that trousers were also subject to gendered styling, and said: “It’s also the case that many of the ‘girl’ jeans are actually embellished and glittered to the point that children can’t actually move in them.
“I always got my daughter ‘boys’ cords and denims, always soft, plenty of movement, POCKETS, and especially with cords, bright colours.”
A spokesperson for Primark said: “We offer a diverse range of fashion and styles across our children’s range to suit a broad mix of tastes and styles.
“Inclusivity really matters to us and we work hard across our campaigns, stores and products to reflect this. But we are always learning and we welcome feedback and will look into this further.”