Pretty and Cute Like Mommy? Strong and Tough Like Daddy?

May 14, 2018

Pretty and Cute Like Mommy? Strong and Tough Like Daddy?

Tough Like Mommy onesie  by Free to Be Kids

When you have a baby, especially a baby boy, they sort of appear -- the flotsam and jetsam of baby showers, office parties, congratulations gifts. Onesies, even the lettering cute and tiny: Strong like Daddy, complete with a little dump truck or a monster. Daddy’s Little Slugger, Daddy’s MVP: both replete with sports emblems and trophies, with footballs and baseball bats. Tough Like Daddy. Handsome like Daddy. Future (insert job) Just Like My Daddy (cop, engineer, etc.). 


They continue like this into toddler sizes and beyond, and we put them on our boys, and once in a great while our girls, because they’re there and within reach and clean, and it’s cute to think of a tiny human growing up to swing a baseball bat. And there isn’t much wrong with a shirt like that, really, a shirt that celebrates a relationship between a kid and a dad.

Except when that relationship is reduced only to macho tropes and repeated over and over, celebrating only these stereotypically "masculine" qualities while ignoring daddy's softer side.

And oh man, have we got problems on the "like mommy" side of things.



Pretty Like Mommy. Cute Like Mommy, Smelly Like Daddy. Beautiful Like Mommy. Sassy Like Mommy. Brave Like Daddy. Cute Like Mommy. Little Hot Mess, Just Like My Mommy. Fabulous Like Mommy. These slogans emphasize not what a little girl or her mama can do, but how they look . They buy into the idea that a woman’s main job in this world is to be an ornament for other people. On this should she base her self-worth.

Put one on your baby a few times? Sure, it’s fun to say your baby is cute like you are! But the pattern of this messaging - tough for boys, and only boys, cute and sweet for girls - is pretty tired. Yes, they’re only for babies and little kids, and maybe those babies and little kids can’t read. But you can. The people around you can. And you’re shaping the way people think about your kid by the clothes you choose for them to wear.

Tough Like Mommy and Kind Like Daddy, by Free to Be Kids

You want the world to think positively about your kids, starting from when they’re babies. You want them to be seen -- and treated -- like the little bundle of potential they are, regardless of their gender. You know that Mommy deserves some credit for more than just her appearance. Just like Daddy deserves to be not just strong, but also kind, Mommy deserves something more than being pretty. And so do little girls.

As a matter of fact, when we started designing baby clothes here at Free to Be Kids, one of the first things we tackled was "like mommy" and "like daddy" messages. Two of our earliest messages? Tough Like Mommy and Kind Like Daddy. And we started making them for toddlers soon after, by popular demand!

Tough Like Mommy baseball tee by Free to Be Kids

A few seasons after we released our Tough Like Mommy shirt, Target came out with a Strong Like Mom shirt. We were glad to see them jump into the game. But the balance is still pretty lopsided in the "Like Mommy" and "Like Daddy" genre, and we are determined to keep pushing big retailers to rethink it.

Kind Like My Mom by Free to Be Kids, also available in "like my momS" versions!

Parents, babies and kids deserve better than what most mainstream stores have to offer. Carter’s has released no fewer than five new Tough like Daddy onesies this year alone. 

We want to tell the world that in addition to being Beautiful like Mommy and Tough Like Daddy, your kids can also be Kind like Mommy and Kind Like Daddy. Kindness is important in this world. (As the great Kurt Vonnegut said, “Dammit baby, you’ve got to be kind.”)

Kind Like Daddy by Free to Be Kids

Instead of only being Cute like Mommy, your kid can also be Smart like Mommy. Intelligence still isn’t something our society values very much in women. We’re expected to sit down, be demure, and look pretty. Don’t brag that you and your kid are cute -- instead, brag that you and your kid are both smart. That you, yourself, are smart. When you put that on your kid, you own it, and you teach your kid to own it. That’s powerful.

Smart Like My Mom by Free to Be Kids, also available in a "like my momS" version.

And instead of being A Hot Mess Just like Mommy, your little one can be Feminist like Mommy, or Feminist like Daddy. Babies aren't born thinking that only girls can be pilots, or men should make more money for doing the same job. That's a weird, messed up cultural lesson they learn along the way. 

Feminist Like Daddy by Free to Be Kids

Go ahead: announce your intention to keep them feminist for the rest of their lives. It's not a crazy political label to stick on your baby - it just means men and women should have equal rights. Simple.  

Feminist like Mommy by Free to Be Kids (also available in "like my momS" 

We are proud of these onesies and shirts. We're proud to be doing our part to fight the gender bias in kids’ clothes. We want to give Mommy equal representation, and daddy credit for his kindness. We want to spread positive messages one fashion statement at a time. Because kids deserve choices. And so, in the end, do adults.  

See something you like?

Every design shown in this article -- with the exception of those collages of tough like daddy and pretty like mommy designs at the tope -- is available at Just click on any of the pictures or links to see all available styles, colors and sizes. 


We design and create baby, kids, and even a few grownup clothes with positive messages and nary a gender cliche in sight. We believe clothes send a message, and our mission is to flip the script on gender cliches and spread positive messages one fashion statement at a time.

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