Eliza Brichto, 7, of the Deptford district in London, was just 3 years old the last time she wore a dress, says her mother Jess Brichto.
“My first child was a boy, so when I heard that I was going to have a girl, I was excited to dress her up in pretty clothes; which I only got away with until she started having her own opinion,” Jess tells Babble.
After Eliza was told repeatedly how beautiful she looked wearing a dress as part of a wedding party, she was done with girls’ clothes — and no amount of convincing from her mother was going to change her mind.
“She just feels so much more comfortable and confident in boys’ clothes” explains Jess. “Both in terms of the fashion — as she is certainly style conscious — but also because they allow her to be comfortable when running around outside and getting up to trouble!”
So, when Eliza fell in love with what is labeled as the “boys’ clothing line,” by designer store Zara, she wanted to know why there weren’t any girls modeling the styles. “We had a chat about it,” says Jess. Eliza mentioned that she wished she could be the first girl to model their clothes.
And for Eliza, this wasn’t just some passing conversation in which she decided she wanted to become a model. She really, truly wanted to model Zara boys’ clothes.
“I had kind of forgotten about it,” Jess recalls, “until a couple of weeks later when she came down with the letter she had written all by herself, asking Zara if she could be their first girl model for their [boys’] clothing line.”
“My name is Eliza and I’m 7-years-old,” reads the handwritten letter. “I’m writing to you because I would like to be a model for Zara Boys. You might think that it’s quite weird that a girl wears boys’ clothes but anyway let me tell you the story. When I was 4 I looked at Zara Girls and I wasn’t really sure about the girls’ clothes but then I had a little look at the boys’ clothes and I loved them. Now the only place I go clothes shopping is Zara Boys. I’m your number one fan, please accept my offer for me being a model for Zara Boys.”
“I actually thought it was perfect,” says Jess, “so we sent it along with a couple of pictures we took of her wearing the clothes.”
Eliza and Jess certainly aren’t the first people who would like to see a change in the way that designers label their clothing. And if Zara was to accept Eliza’s offer, they would be joining a growing list of designers and retailers, from Abercrombie & Fitch to Target, who are removing gender labels and paving the way for kids to just be kids.
“Although I always liked the idea of having a daughter to dress up,” Jess explains, “I’m proud of how strong minded and independent Eliza is. She knows what she likes and has good reasons for it, so I respect that. I certainly wouldn’t want to have her any other way!”
So far, Eliza and Jess have not gotten a response from Zara, but “whatever happens, Eliza’s really enjoyed the response she’s gotten” Jess admits. “We’ve had many messages come in from parents all around the world, each saying that they have girls that feel same as Eliza, and love what she’s doing. If anything, this has just made her more determined than ever.”
As a parent, I’m also proud of Eliza for being confident in who she is. While Jess is quick to state that Eliza is proud to be a girl, she also isn’t ashamed to admit that she’s her own person.
“It has been such an incredible privilege watching both my children grow into independent, strong minded people, with a real sense of their own identity. And I would just encourage all parents and teachers to really celebrate this individuality and passion, rather than trying to get them to conform to a stereotype,” Jess says.
“That way — and of course with parental guidance and support — they can really shine in whatever path they choose. It’s such an exciting journey being a parent and the greatest gift!”
It will be interesting to see if Zara comes around to take Eliza up on her offer, but for now, she’s busy shattering the idea that labels define who a person is.