They sparkle. They rainbow. They have horns and hooves, glitter and gold. They are the inspiration for both childhood dreams and hipster tattoos.
“Why do you like unicorns so much?” my husband asks. “I mean,” he backs up, “Don’t get me wrong. I’m just confused.Why unicorns? Why now? This is some Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper throwback thing, isn’t it?”
No. No, it is not.
Basically, unicorns are magical. They have rainbow and sparkles and glitter and gold hooves. They can fly. They are whatever you want them to be, because they are unicorns. Best of all, they’ve become a symbol for being whatever you want to be and doing whatever you want to do.
The recent resurgence of all things unicorn actually began with -- and we are not making this up -- toast. According to Refinery 29, a health food photographer and blogger was playing around with natural dyes on cream cheese toast in June 2016. Her followers started calling it “unicorn toast.” And the unicorn juggernaut arose from the Trapper Keeper of yore, stretched its wings, and started spearing things with its mighty horn.
Except, only for some people.
They’ve always been problematic that way, unicorns. In the 15th century they were wild woodland creatures who could only be captured by female virgins. Even that far back in the day only girls got unicorns. Kings and princes had to content themselves with the leftover horns.
Flash forward to the 1980s, where unicorns galloped across the fields of our school supplies. And by "our school supplies" I actually mean "girls’ school supplies," because any boy who dared bring a unicorn-emblazoned anything to school would have been called any number of names we at Free to Be Kids don’t believe in printing.
Even our beloved J.K. Rowling (of Harry Potter fame) failed us when it came to unicorns in the 1990s, digging up that old trope about how only girls can touch fully grown unicorns, because unicorns are totally innocent.
Now it’s 2018, and we’ve got unicorn everything. Unicorn hair (rainbow fading into rainbow). Unicorn frappucinos. Unicorn pool floats. Every kind of unicorn makeup you could imagine. Unicorn body glitter, vomitously known as unicorn snot. Stuffed unicorns. Unicorn shirts.
And all of them, still, are just for girls.
It seems that even in the brave new world of 2018, when we can have a march for women’s rights that turns into a march for everyone’s rights, when we can call out sexual harassment and assault with the hashtag #MeToo, we still can’t let all kids have unicorns.
A friend of mine had a Harry Potter party at her house last year, and one of the games was to find the animals in the Forbidden Forest (AKA the glen of trees in the corner of her yard). The grand prize? A stuffed unicorn. All the boys ignored it studiously until her son found it. He magnanimously gifted it to his mother because boys can’t have unicorns. He’d internalized it that deeply.
Friends, it's time to take unicorns back.
All kids deserve all the things that unicorns embody. They all have a right to the can-do, I’ll-be-who-I-want-to-be, that’s-fabulous attitude we’ve come to associate with the postmodern unicorn. Yes, it’s twee and cute. But it’s also fabulous and powerful, magical in its self-knowledge and self-assurance. Girls get that. Google image “unicorn” and the first pic is a pudgy unicorn with the words “I Believe in Myself.” The last on the first line? A unicorn headshot with the words “MAGICAL.”
We all deserve to believe in ourselves. We all deserve to be magical.
We all deserve unicorns.
We design and create baby and kids clothes with positive messages and nary a gender cliche in sight. Unsurprisingly, we believe all kids deserve to wear unicorn shirts! So we recently released this tattoo-inspired Unicorn design that's available in various colors and styles from size 6m all the way up to adult 2XL!