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?