No Labels No Limits - We Are With You Russell Brand

By Cheryl Rickman
on November 08, 2016

Russell Brand to raise child gender neutralI was invited to be on BBC Radio Scotland's Kay Adams show this morning to discuss gender-neutrality, after Russell Brand has said that he will be raising his first-born child gender-neutral. (I didn't go on in the end as they "already had a Southern voice, and wanted to keep some of the commentators Scottish"). Fair enough.

Russell told Jonathan Ross while appearing on his TV show that he doesn't want his child with Laura Gallacher to be restricted by male or female labels.

"We don’t know the gender I may not even ever impose a gender upon it, let the child grow up and be the whatever the hell it is, never tell it there is such a concept," said Russell on the show.

Anyway... this got me thinking.

Gender neutral is a funny old phrase because the use of the word 'neutral' makes people think of beige, grey and drab colours, which sounds restrictive in itself. And yet, what gender neutrality is REALLY about is getting rid of the limitations that gender stereotypes create to give children more choice, which is what and the campaign I'm an ambassador for, Let Clothes Be Clothes, are all about. It's about more choice and less limitation.

Russell Brand doesn't want his child to be restricted by labels.

Of course, if you say you are raising your child gender neutral, the connotation might be that you are not going to raise that child as a boy or a girl. Perhaps you might even consider using the word 'hen', the Swedish gender-neutral pronoun, intended as an alternative to the gender-specific hon ("she") and han ("he")?

Or, maybe, like me, when I use the word gender neutral, I am talking about removing restrictions and limitations that gender stereotypes perpetuate.

Often, as humans, we make choices in reaction to the extremes that we are opposing so, in opposing gender stereotypes, raising a child as 'gender neutral' is finding an alternative to the overt gender stereotyping that has smothered our stores, screens and magazine pages, since the relatively gender-neutral 1970s, the decade in which I grew up.

For me, getting rid of gender stereotypes is not about getting rid of pink princesses or snarling monsters at the extreme end of perceived femininity or masculinity, because lots of children LOVE pink princesses and snarling monsters. No, for me, the way forward is to cater for the ENTIRE SPECTRUM of colour and motifs; the ENTIRE SPECTRUM of what it means to be a child without the need to label any of it as 'for girls only' or 'for boys only'.

Why? Because labels are restrictive. They lessen choice and remove our children's freedom to just be children and like what they like and play with what they want to play with and wear what they want to wear. No labels = no limits.

With that in mind, a few of us who have taken a stand to battle gender-stereotypes, are joining forces to create a collective called NO LABELS NO LIMITS.

We are stronger together and our goal is ultimately to enable our children to be proud to be all that they are, wear what they wear, play with what they play with and be who they are, without restrictions. 

And, if Russell Brand wants to join us, he'll be more than welcome :-)

No Labels No Limits will include:

Time To Put Humanity First

By Cheryl Rickman
on June 18, 2016

By Cheryl Rickman

I write thisjo cox mp during a week of senseless violence; when MP Jo Cox, who devoted her political life to campaigning against racism, was gunned down by a man screaming 'Britain First; when a minority of football supporters showed their true colours whilst poorly representing theirs. A week where the lives of 53 LGBT people were snuffed out in the name of fear. All of which precedes a week when we go to the polls to vote in or out of Europe.

It seems to me that hate needs to be taken down a peg or two; that the only thing to fear is those who spout protection as a justification for such hate. Surely, it is only hate and fear which we should be protecting our nation from, not from other humans going about their daily lives who might be different to us. The only way to do this is by choosing to love, trusting our neighbours and celebrating rather than fearing our differences.

As Jo Cox so wisely said, “we have far more in common than that which divides us.” As a parent I will continue to teach my daughter that humans are humans, love is love and that our differences enhance our communities, our businesses and our schools – they add flavour, colour and collective wisdom to our lives.

Be it Farage or Trump’s fear-mongering venom or one human being harming another, the facts are simple. There is love and there is hate. One is right and the other is wrong. Nothing good ever came from hatred or fear. Plenty good came from celebrating differences and championing diversity.

Many worry about the world our children are growing up in. Fortunately, they’re not yet tarnished with a fear of other nationalities or sexualities. So let us teach them about the benefits of unity and compassion rather than disparity and aggression.

Perhaps we should learn from business leaders who know that diversity in the workplace has a positive impact on productivity and creativity (the more diverse minds there are, the wider the cognitive impact). They recognise collaboration leads to innovation and that, through aligning with others, we can pool resources, share insight and grow stronger together.

As the referendum hastens a bewildered general public towards choosing to stick together or go it alone, perhaps now is the time to consider whether love and trust should trump hate and suspicion.

Most people are good, so let’s celebrate our differences and notice our similarities. In doing so the world might heal itself.

SSE Girls' Football Participation Programme

By Cheryl Rickman
on May 05, 2016

My 7 year old daughter is excited. She is going to her second ever football match - The 2016 SSE Women's FA Cup Final, which will be played at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 14 May 2016.

As well as having the opportunity to see some of her favourite players in action, and getting to go to Wembley, it is wonderful for her to be able to see women at the top of their game. She may ask me "why aren't their Match Attack cards with women players on them?" But women's football has come a long way with a record attendance of 30,701 at last year's SSE Women's FA Cup Final (including us, thanks to the very kind people at SSE) which millions tuned in to watch on the BBC, plus we've seen incredible performances from our Lionesses in the World Cup last year (coming 3rd) and the SheBelievesCup earlier this year.

It's also been encouraging to see various brands supporting girls and women's sport. For example, SSE are working closely with the FA as well as clubs across the country, to kick off the FA SSE Girls' Football Participation Programme, which will look to get more youngsters taking part in the sport. Launching in 2016, girls aged five to 14 will have more opportunities than ever to play the beautiful game.

SSE and the FA are setting up a series of girls-only sessions within partner clubs so girls get the chance to play and have fun with their friends. This, and England's excellent third-place finish in the 2015 Women's World Cup, highlighted the national interest in the women's game. "We're hoping to bring through the next generation of talent, because we're proud to make a difference," say SSE.

Click here to find your local club.

A week in the life of a football loving girl - Girls Football Week

Buy your football loving girl a GIRLS FOOTBALL HOODY here

How Do You Search For Kids Clothes? Help Us Show Retailers How To Give Children More Choice Less Limits

By Cheryl Rickman
on April 11, 2016

How Do You Search For Kids Clothes? By Gender or Type or Age? And, if by gender is this because of your own preference or because it's the only option you have been given by the online retailers? We'd love hear from you.

ClimbingTreesKids is working closely with LetClothesBeClothes to show retailers how to give our children MORE CHOICE & LESS LIMITS

I met with John Lewis Head Buyers last week as a spokesperson for Let Clothes Be Clothes and Climbing Trees. The meeting went well with the Head Buyer taking plenty of notes and listening to all feedback. It was great to discover that we share a mutual understanding about the importance of offering CHOICE.

In fact, Caroline Bettis, Head Buyer for Childrenswear at John Lewis said,

"Meeting customer needs is our number one priority. We understand the importance of providing girls and boys with more choice and, as such, we have already rolled out GIRLS&BOYS labeling across much of our childrenswear range and have removed boy / girl from the stitched in labels. We have also designed a range of dinosaur themed clothes for boys and girls across both ranges. We are keen to continue dialogue with Let Clothes Be Clothes and Climbing Trees Kids and consider how we might take your points on board to implement some of the suggestions you’ve made in the future.”

One of our suggestions was about HOW they display their clothing so, we'd be interested to find out how YOU search for clothes when shopping online.

Is it by type? By colour/theme? Or by gender?

And, if by gender is this because of your own preference or because it's the only option you have been given by the online retailers? Interested to know your thoughts - please let us know via this simple poll here:

Jess Day, campaigner for Let Toys Be Toys - For Girls and Boys told us that their campaign also got the same answer from toy retailers to begin with, but gender categories are now much less common on toy websites and people are still finding dolls and trucks just fine. She says:

"Of the 11 sites which used gender as a prominent category when we looked at this issue in 2014, 4 have dropped gender from their toy sections altogether. So 'boys' and 'girls' toy sections on websites have gone from being the most common primary navigation, to relatively unusual, in less than four years. Obviously clothes and toys aren't exactly the same, but it's worth making the comparison: retailers thought these categories were indispensible to shoppers. They weren't."

Please help us to show retailers how to give children more choice, less limits by gathering more research and sharing this link:

Climbing Trees Kids also appeared on an Arabic blog where we talked about how to shatter the pink is for girls and blue is for boys stereotype.

You can read more here:

Why International Women’s Day Is Important

By Cheryl Rickman
on March 08, 2016

International Women’s Day (#IWD2016) is a day to celebrate the women who inspire us with their courageous and determined acts, reflect on the progress that has been made, and question the areas where it hasn’t. It’s a day to demand change where change needs to be made because, as President Obama so rightly says,

“"We must carry forward the work of the women who came before us and ensure our daughters have no limits on their dreams, no obstacles to their achievements and no remaining ceilings to shatter."”

Yes, when women are empowered & safe to contribute to society, incredible things happen. And that is why the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon is focusing our attention on gender equality this year because, "There is no greater investment in our common future."


There are too many women to mention who have inspired us with their courage and determination, but let’s mention Emma Watson with her HeForShe campaign, the remarkable #MalalaYousafzai who is calling for us to give girls books on #InternationalWomensDay as part of her MalalaFund – both making a huge difference.

And all the women who, on a smaller scale, stand up for less limitations and wider choice. From Trisha Lowther, founder of Let Toys Be Toys, Francesca Cambridge of Let Clothes Be Clothes, Sarah Brown who is spearheading the #RewritingTheCode campaign,  Zainab Salbi, UKfounder of WomenforwomenUK, plus WEP (Women's Equality Party) founding members Sophie Walker, (who is running for mayor) and

Because, there is still much work to do.

Today, in 2016, many women still have to work twice as hard to do half as well.

  • ONLY one in three MPs are women.
  • WOMEN are paid 10 to 30 per cent less than men. Still.
  • TWO-THIRDS of the world’s illiterate are women because of the lack of schooling for girls in various parts of the world.
  • ONE IN THREE women have experienced violence.

Thankfully, the UN's 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality with aims to ensure, by 2030 that all girls and boys are educated and that all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres come to an END! Meanwhile, the is calling business leaders to PLEDGEFORPARITY

So what can we do about all of this? Can Mrs X as Number 2, Such-and-such Drive in Southern England really do anything to help this cause? Yes, yes you can. Here’s how:

  • Give your daughter and niece and pupils the same opportunities, choices and encouragement that boys have. People still say ‘that’s not for girls’ - don't be one of them. Let your daughter be all that she is, like whatever she likes, play with whatever she plays with and wear whatever she likes. Avoid restricting her choices based on her gender.
  • Sign petitions. They work. Here’s a few to start with:

Time to let clothes be clothes

Gender equality —let’s make women and girls #worldclass

Better gender balance in Parliament!

Stop taxing periods. Period

  • Support GENDER EQUALITY campaigns that pop up on your timeline by either donating or promoting them on your social media. We have the power to share stuff that compels us to act; to create a viral spread of causes to support.
  • Support on our own mission to empower little girls to be proud to be all that they are. Get your A3 MANIFESTO poster here.
  • Share your #InspiringWomen with #SheInspiresMe and @Elemis - they will donate £1 per post to women survivors of war http://ly/Sheinspiresme
  • Keep doing what women do so well – checking in on our female friends, creating strong support networks, listening with empathy to make sure our friends know that we are here for them if they need us if, for example, they are experiencing domestic violence and need our help to get out of a destructive relationship. Be there for each other.

And, to all my female friends on #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2016 YOU ALL INSPIRE ME - whether you are battling a disease, have overcome depression, are working hard in your job even though you don't love it, have chosen gratitude over grumpiness, have let that sh1t go, are running your own business, are helping other people, are devoting your life to being as good a mum as you possibly can be, are retraining to do something you love, are a good friend and good person, are standing up for what you believe in, making someone else feel good, are giving hugs to those who need them, listening, empathising, tackling a whole load of chores whilst holding down a full time job, juggling all manner of shiz, being there for those who love you and doing the best you can with what you have --- YOU ALL INSPIRE ME. So please be kind to yourself, because you are needed. And be nice to each other too, because you never know what's going on behind closed doors. LOVE AND RESPECT TO THE MEGA SISTERHOOD OF THE WORLD.




Get Kids Outdoor More - Time To Swap ‘Screen Time’ For ‘Green Time’

By Cheryl Rickman
on February 22, 2016

girls climbing trees big treeThe daffodils are out already and, meteorologically speaking, Spring begins on 1st March (although, astronomically, the season starts on 27th March when the clocks Spring forward). Season-start-times aside, it’s time to GET OUR KIDS OUTDOORS MORE! Especially given that national averages for children engaging in outdoor play are steadily and sadly decreasing. That’s despite much research revealing that kids who play and learn outside develop better life skills and are healthier, more resilient and creative.

As a 70s child, I ran barefoot on grass regularly, made mud pies, and built outdoor dens. The park, woods and garden were my playground. Back then we took going down the park until dark for granted. But that doesn’t mean we can’t let our children explore, climb trees and get muddy with our supervision.

It’s not all about structured sporting activities either. Last weekend, on a woodland walk, I told my daughter to “take the lead and I’ll follow” and her eyes lit up. We had a wonderful woodland adventure where the possibilities of play were endless.

Minecraft may provide space to build new worlds but the Great Outdoors is the original new-world-building creative space.




Furthermore, studies reveal learning outdoors boosts concentration and well-being and encourages environmental stewardship and respect for the natural world. That’s why I’m leading an OPERATION OUTDOORS campaign at my local school to build outdoor learning and community areas. (Any local Hampshire-based companies interested in sponsoring zones in part or full, please contact me). As for parents… yes, we’re busier than ever, but we are also more mobile. We can phone/email from the park if we must (or just enjoy being outdoors ourselves).

Thankfully Forest Pre-Schools and Kindergartens (such as My Little Explorers where B went) are providing parents with an outdoor childcare choice. But us parents can do so too. It may be a tad too cold to sleep under the stars just yet but, as the Scandinavians say: "There's no bad weather, only bad clothes," and there’s plenty of fun to be had scavenger hunting, geo-caching, roller-skating, bike-riding, planting, tracking and climbing. So let’s makes the choice to get our digital natives out amongst nature, away from those screens and outdoors more. Now where are my wellies?

Join the campaign. Tweet your outdoor adventures to @ClimbingTreesTs using the hashtag #GetKidsOutdoorsMore



How To Show Our Daughters That Appearance Is Not As Important As It May Appear

By Cheryl Rickman
on February 04, 2016

January. Diet season. But remember – our daughters are watching and their body image and sense of self develops early.

pretty as a princess disney badge - body imageOn a daily basis, girls of all ages wade through a sea of images telling them their main value is their appearance. Even teensy three-year-olds are bombarded with messages about being “as pretty as a princess.” No wonder more 10 year olds than ever before have dieted, given the unrealistic expectations around weight and beauty they see on TV shows, (87% of characters are below average in weight) in magazines and other media.

The good news is, girls are playing sports and are more active, which create a healthy relationship with their bodies. But how, as parents, can we help our daughters to understand that appearance is not as important as it may appear?

  • Balance praise. Talk about who your daughter is more than how she looks. Praise achievements. Help her value what she does, rather than what she looks like. Seek opportunities to compliment her efforts, skills and characteristics, from being brave to being a good friend. Balance praise around looking good with who she is as a person.
  • Expose the myths. From age-9 upwards point out that pictures have been altered to make models look flawless and impossibly thin and why so. Talk about unrealistic media representations of beauty AND that limited definitions of what it means to be a girl or boy are only used to sell more stuff.
  • Focus on function: ie. what bodies can do rather than what they look like. Focus on how our bodies are not objects or shapes, but are strong self-healing machines, full of vitality.
  • Look for alternative media. Avoid TV, movies, and magazines that promote stereotypes and outdated gender roles. Seek out unconventional role models and different body types and discuss why you find them beautiful (e.g, they're kind or wise). Expose her to women famous for their achievements rather than their appearance.
  • Ask her what she likes about herself and list what you like about her too. Your acceptance and respect can help build self-esteem and resilience.
  • Consider how you talk about your own body. Girls take to heart what their mothers say about their own/other people’s bodies. They notice if we make derogatory comments about our own appearance. So, rather than berate our bodies, let’s celebrate them and, if we want to change them, focus on ‘healthy changes’ rather than ‘diets.’

This advert from Dove was filmed 8 years ago and yet things have got worse rather than better since then. The message? Talk to your daughters before the beauty industry does. By taking some of the steps above, we can help our daughters realise that appearance matters less than it appears.



This post first featured in The Daily Echo in Cheryl Rickman's Monthly Lifestyle Column: Choice Words

"Why Do Boys Get All The Cool Stuff?" Daughter's Question Sparks Clothing Revolution

By Cheryl Rickman
on November 26, 2015

Thanks to The Daily Echo for giving Climbing Trees the LEAD FEATURE spot last week:

Daily Echo - 'Why Do Boys Get All The Cool Stuff?' Daughter's Question Sparks Clothing Revolution

As well as a spot on the front page of the newspaper, this featured in the Lifestyle section of the paper along with my brand new CHOICE WORDS Lifestyle column in the paper, which is reproduced here - Children Now Have Less Freedom To Be Themselves

Yay! A veritable Climbing Trees takeover.

Thank you to Sally Churchward from the Daily Echo for supporting us.

Why do boys get all the cool stuff feature

Children Now Have Less Freedom Be Themselves

By Cheryl Rickman
on November 26, 2015

As printed in my new Lifestyle Column for The Daily Echo...As 70s kids we wore mostly brown and orange. Lego was only produced in primary colours, and bikes were generally red. We played with whatever we wanted and pink was just another colour. Boys often sported long hair, girls often didn’t; we were free just to be; to be ourselves.

Fast-forward some decades and pink has become the epitome of femininity, used to market everything. In supermarket baby aisles, the boys’ section swims in a sea of baby blue and the girls’ in pink. It’s a commercial no-brainer for retailers to offer best-selling clothes and pink outsells other pastels. But perhaps this is because of the lack of alternative choice? Why not add other colours and represent the full spectrum of what it means to be a child, without limitations? Some children like stuff that fits the stereotype but some don’t. Do children really need to be restricted and told what to like before they can even walk?

Children are increasingly polarised into stereotyped boxes and told what they should like. Signs above toys and clothes say boys must like dinosaurs and vehicles and girls must like princesses and butterflies. But what if they don’t? Some children are deciding not to wear stuff labelled as for the opposite sex for fear of being teased. That’s so limiting for children.

As parents we can buy their clothes from the other aisle, and we do but, the point is, we shouldn’t have to.

There’s nothing wrong with pink princesses, but there’s so much more to girls than that. Equally, there’s nothing wrong with snarling Marvel characters, but there’s so much more to boys than that.

Retailers should not abolish pink or princesses though. They are loved by many and we want retailers to provide more choice not less.

The good news is retailers are listening. LetToysBeToys persuaded many to remove gender signage telling boys to play with trucks and girls with dolls. A couple of weeks ago, representing LetClothesBeClothes, I met with Mothercare who, already leading the way with Jools Oliver’s unisex LittleBird range have made some promising promises (#watchthisspace).

After meeting with Tesco’s F&F they’ve agreed to make girls clothes more practical over pretty, with longer shorts and robust cardigans. Let’s hope we’re moving towards a sea-change back to that playful, expressive era of freedom of choice where children can just be themselves.


THIS is a copy of my brand new column in The Daily Echo - Choice Words where I'll be writing about gender related issues and how to help our children to flourish in today's world.

Climbing Trees were also proud to be included as the lead feature in last week's Echo



A Week In The Life of a Football-Loving Girl - Girls Football Week

By Cheryl Rickman
on October 05, 2015

This week has been an active one for the 7 year old football-loving co-founder of She's kicked a ball round before and after school (as usual), learned skills at her after-school club where she is the only girl in her age group and scored a goal for her mixed team where she plays on Saturday mornings along with three other girls.

She still sometimes gets disheartened - when some boys just don't pass to her, even when she's the only one who has made a space - because she has to prove herself even more than most. I hope that won't let that stop her doing what she loves.

The week ended on a high note this morning when she watched a recording of last night's Women's Football Show to see her favourites, Chelsea Ladies, win 4-0 against Sunderland to win the WSL title and do the double.

She had been lucky enough to see Chelsea Ladies win the SSE Women's FA Cup live at Wembley Stadium in August - her first actual proper match (#whatafirstmatch!)

girls football top hoodyShe loved walking out into the stadium to find our seats as it made her "feel like one of the players!"

And this week - for GIRLS FOOTBALL WEEK - we have launched our first FOOTBALL TOP FOR GIRLS - now available on a heather grey hooded sweatshirt

TO ORDER this football top for your daughter, click here.

WeCanPlay - Because Girls Like Football Too from Cheryl Rickman on Vimeo.

And I am so thankful, after 4 years of her loving football and being told 'you should have been a boy' and 'girls don't play football' by a minority of people, that aged 7, she got to see for herself women playing an incredibly high standard of football during this summer's Women's World Cup. It gave her the chance to see other females playing the game she adores really REALLY well on television, which is why I wanted to make sure her first match was a Ladies game - the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium where Chelsea Ladies beat Notts County.

That cemented for her that GIRLS CAN PLAY as the FA's hashtag for encouraging more girls to play states #wecanplay. She knew that already but as her summer involved collecting Match Attack cards featuring all the male players, and, having been the only girl for so long on the football field, it was wonderful for her to have some heroines to admire and support.

Now she knows all the names of the best female players in the WSL and we watch the Women's Football Show each week. The Lionesses inspired a nation, helped to bolster the level of support and gain more mainstream media coverage for the sport and shone a spotlight the level of kinship, sportswomanship and camaraderie within the sport.

We want to thank every single Women's Football team player for inspiring her and the future generation of top notch sportswomen and call for more mainstream coverage for Women's Football (c'mon BBC, buy the rights from BT). We also want this incredible show of sisterhood to inspire women and girls in general to take note of the kinship and camaraderie that was on display - where women support and encourage and uplift other women rather than knocking them down.


Every player in the tournament is absolutely living our very own manifesto which includes the words:

"Be proud to be you. Be bold.Stand tall....

Play to your strengths. Rise to challenges...

Dream big. Then practice...

Nurture your dreams like seeds. Climb back up after you fall down."

Find out more about our manifesto, motto and mission here.

Order an A3 poster of the Climbing Trees manifesto here.


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From the Blog

No Labels No Limits - We Ar...

November 08, 2016

I was invited to be on BBC Radio Scotland's Kay Adams show this morning to discuss gender-neutrality, after Russell Brand...

Read more →

Time To Put Humanity First

June 18, 2016

By Cheryl Rickman I write this during a week of senseless violence; when MP Jo Cox, who devoted her political life...

Read more →

SSE Girls' Football Partici...

May 05, 2016

My 7 year old daughter is excited. She is going to her second ever football match - The 2016 SSE...

Read more →