Hey, I’m not wearing shorts!

One thing that’s new in Pokemon X and Y is that you can customize the player character’s appearance and clothing. Overall, this is a nice addition, and not just because it prevents everyone from looking the same online.

But I can’t help but notice that the choice are limited in a couple of ways that you might not expect.

Female trainers have considerably more options for both hairstyle and clothing than male ones. While this does reflect reality in the sense that there really is more variety in what’s considered socially “normal” for women than for men (this is one of the ways in which patriarchal sexism hurts men), there’s no reason that games should reflect the stupider parts of culture, and Pokemon has always  been neutral to player gender before. (The fifth generation games had a few differences, but in equal numbers.)

If you count the fact that only girls can change their front hair independently from the back, girls have 12 hairstyles to choose from compared to only 4 for boys.  For clothing, males have 102 items in total and females get a whopping 205. Dresses even exist as their own category with no male equivalent. (Yes, there’s no commonly worn modern male single piece that covers both the torso and the legs…but some of the dresses are actually two-piece outfits too, so how about suits? And there’s no real reason they couldn’t have included things like kimonos for both genders, or costume stuff.) Numbers aside, the female options also have more variety, as you can see here. And what gets really weird is that there are girls’ shirts that have ties, but no such thing for boys.

This a minor thing in the long run, but when you start, you can’t choose your hair and eye color (which can both be changed later, with contacts and dye) independently of your skin tone (which can’t). Anyone who didn’t know that and chose their initial appearance based on hair instead of skin probably got a little annoyed.

Let’s talk about hair color. Despite the fact that you can dye your hair, and that people with hair colors like green or purple exist in Pokemon, your hair in this game can only be realistic natural colors. Why, I don’t know. The hair styles are also on the conventional side despite some characters with more unusual hair being in the game.

You can’t go without a hat (you can go without socks and without an accessory, so it’s not a technical limitation), and all available hats are actual hats that cover the top of your head. While all previous Pokemon player characters have had some sort of headwear, several of them had things like headbands instead of regular hats.

A few other things you might expect to have as options just aren’t there either. If you’re male, you can’t wear shorts. (The “short cargo pants” still reach as far down as “short boots” go up.) Why not? I like shorts. They’re comfy and easy to wear.



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