Recently I was talking with a nanny who was telling me why the kids she cares for ended up with Sesame Street shoes. She was apologetic in explaining it: It was all they had left! They were on clearance, in their size, so we had to make do!
Meanwhile, she full knows my kids are nearly always in head-to-toe character-branded nonsense: My Little Pony Crocs, Minecraft and Five Nights at Freddy's and Star Wars T-shirts, Spider-Man and Power Rangers hoodies, plus assorted accessories. As if I would be judging her.
When I grew up, I wasn't allowed to wear characters. Well, that's too strong, but my mother "didn't care" for such fashion choices, and I was persuadable, so I had my Wonder Woman Underoos to wear in private but very demure and girly clothing to wear above.
Before I had children (and this is possibly the idealistic realm in which my nanny friend resides), I assumed their clothing would be similarly character-neutral. Not for me the Thomas the Train shirts and Elmo hats and Caillou sandals (I'm just making things up now). I eschewed even hand-me-downs and gifts that featured recognizable brands. My kids would wear cute things that wouldn't date them in photographs to a particular cultural period, clothing that was bright and whimsical and classically childlike.
And so it went…until my first child developed opinions.