Attachment parenting in a disconnected world

Sky Blue Pink

Now that I have two daughters, I have “a licence to be pink” apparently.  Before Alt.D2 was born, I would look at the two options available in the shops and sometimes choose the one that would be more socially acceptable for a boy.  Alt.D1 wore a lot of red and green as a baby!  I always had half a mind on her future siblings, anticipating the re-use of articles by a baby brother who might not be too chuffed to be seen in a bright pink duffel coat…
Except actually, I’m not a “pink” person.  Don’t get me wrong, I think pink is a pretty colour, just as blue, purple, orange and green are all pretty colours.  I just never felt the longing for pink baby clothes that many of my friends have expressed.  I can’t understand the obsession that modern society seems to have with “pink for a girl, blue for a boy”.  Why?
A friend of mine took her 4 year old son to buy new shoes in readiness for his first day at school.  Having been measured, he waited for the shop assistant to bring the shoes for him to try on.  He looked sadly at the proffered footwear;
“But I don’t like black and brown, Mummy, I like pink and purple!”  He was eyeing up the “girls'” section and looking so doleful that his mother wondered whether she could actually get away with humouring him and buying purple shoes for school.  She decided not to.  Later, she expressed a little sadness that she had to feel the pressure to conform.  
None of us wants our child to be picked on or ostracised, but I have often deliberately chosen the “less girly” of two items, feeling as I have done so that I just want to give a kick and a prod to whoever it was that decided our society should be thus divided.
When did it start, though?  Pink used to be a colour for baby boys in Victorian times, but by the time I was growing up in the 1980s, it was definitely for girly girls.  But, at the same time, we still had this:
  I love that image!  She’s so proud of her lego thingummy, a truly unisex toy, and what she’s wearing?  That’s what I wore in the 1980s, too.  Mine were probably handed down from cousins (girls) or family friends (boys).  But my mother probably didn’t even consider “were they girly enough?”.  Oh, and shame on you, Lego for your new, super sexist “Lego Friends” range.  It makes me want to puke!  Yes, I do feel that strongly about it, don’t click on the link if you’re in any way averse to saccharine sweet… and as for the poor body images, don’t get me started!

I recently needed a red top each for the Alt.Ds.  Plain, short sleeves, red.  I looked around the large shops in the Big City.  I noticed they ALL had boy and girl sections, but none had any “unisex” for children over 6 months.   Surely it’s not just mothers of girls who are struggling here?  What if you have a boy and you don’t want to dress him in sludge brown or sensible navy blue?  You’re scuppered!  Make your own instead.
So, I have been following the brilliant website “Pink Stinks” and their campaigns against popular media and businesses that dumb down, exploit, stereotype and limit roles for young girls.  They see the effect it’s having on boys, too, of course:  our children are growing up in a world where career advice is being dished out by a nauseatingly fluffy fairy, whatever next!?!  [Felicity Wishes]  Butterfly House Attendant?  Ballerina, Cake Baker?  How about Lawyer, Civil Engineer, Teacher, Medical Physicist, Farmer, Mother, or any of the other jobs undertaken by any of the real women that my daughters actually know?  Nope.
Take a look at the Pink Stinks campaigns – even if you don’t have girls, I’m sure you will see their message.

Alt.D1 started nursery two mornings a week back in October.  By Christmas, she was refusing to wear trousers.  I took it up with the staff, who looked perplexed.  Later in the week, one of the nursery teachers reported back that she’d observed a group of girls playing dressing up.  One of the boys wanted to join in, but another child had said “You can’t, this is for girls…” None of these children is over 4 years old, and they already have this idea so ingrained!  I was shocked, but then not surprised at Alt.D1’s confusion over her wardrobe!

Thankfully, the wardrobe dramas are now minimal.  As long as she is dressed appropriately for the weather and the activity, I don’t mind what she wears (and we have had some very, um, interesting, combinations, too!  Someone recently commented that her choice of clothes is what makes Alt.D1 who she is.  Absolutely.

She can choose pink if she wants to, just as she can choose any of the other colours.  Today she went to a party dressed as a mermaid (I was sad to veto her first choice of TIGER on the grounds it has been 35 degrees here for the last week!) and she had a great time.  Later on in the afternoon, she was running barefoot in the woods climbing trees with a little friend, and getting so excited she might burst at the prospect of a ride on a minature live steam engine.  Whether she wants to be an engineer, explorer, or in fact, a mermaid, she will have our blessings and encouragement (“Mummy, are mermaids wild?” – today’s unanswerable question!).  
Besides, mermaids are green, not pink, right?

There’s loads more I could say on this issue, and probably will, at some point.  What are your thoughts?


Comments on: "Sky Blue Pink" (4)

  1. One of the first sentences my cousins little girl learnt was 'pink for girls'. It was cute, but also really sad. I LOVE pink, I also LOVE blue, green and mud. (To my mothers despair!) I saw two little boys picking out cakes in the supermarket the other day. The 3 (ish) year old wanted the fairy cake with purple icing and glitter on top. His older brother was horrified and said something along the lines of, 'that's for girls'. Good on his mum though – she made no fuss about it and just let the little one have the purple cake. To be fair, it didn't look really scrummy. I think he made the best choice and the older lad missed out!I was there for Alt.D1's 3rd birthday in November when she insisted on wearing a skirt and tights to help me garden. It was baltic, I was cold in my jeans and many layers, so was she and then a little grumpy too. Skirts/trousers/pink/blue…. be yourself I say and I'm glad you're trying to stop society influencing such a little sponges, otherwise known as minds.

  2. I find it very difficult to buy clothes for my son, they are soooo boring! All the fun stuff is reserved for the pink section and there is much more available for girls. Luckily I am a dab hand with a sewing machine and knitting needles so all is not lost. When he was very little I did dress him in pink and purple as we had hand-me-downs but only in the house. People thought he was a girl anyway because of his long eyelashes, I didn't mind correcting them but still couldn't bring myself to take him out in a purple babygrow. I generally refuse to conform to social pressures for myself, why then do I cave in when it come to my child?!

  3. Our baby, no matter the sex, was always going to be in lots of blue, because I have several nephews, whose clothes we were given. We did have a little boy, but if we ever have a girl, she will be in all her brother's clothes, just as I was as a child. My husband wears pink and purple shirts, so why is it that baby boys' clothes aren't in these colours? I suppose it may be because when our babies are born often the only way others can tell their sex is with their clothes. I do find some of the baby clothes in the shops totally uninspiring, very limited and far too pink or blue. When I lived in France both my sister-in-laws used to ask me to buy clothes for their children, fed up with the clothes here. I can now see why.

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