I remember being in Grade Three and having the teacher tell us that pink is for girls, while blue is for boys. She then went around the class asking us what our favourite colour was. While the boys all picked different shades, from orange to green, as their favourite, the girls all dutifully chimed in with “Pink”, until she got to me. I told her that my favourite colour was blue. She tried to correct me, reminding me that blue was for boys. I insisted my favourite colour was blue. She allowed that sometimes a pastel baby blue could be a nice colour, was that what I meant? Embarrassed and confused I agreed that baby blue was my favourite colour, but in my heart I vowed that it was navy.
Really, now as an adult, I don’t have a favourite colour though I do tend to favour earth tones. I did however get married in a navy blue wedding dress. What can I say, I’m a bit of a rebel.
Colour Coding Our Children
As a mom one of the things that drives me nuts is the fact that people seem to think I’m obliged to dress my girls in pink. I’m never offended when someone refers to my wee babe as a “What cute little boy.” but total strangers have gotten rather upset with me when they discover my child is actually a girl. (Usually Rainbow chimes in with her sister’s name and blows our cover.) I’ve even had a woman get upset with me over the fact that my daughter’s blanket and bunting were brown, and this on a day when the baby happened to actually be wearing a little pink dress. Why on earth should I need to colour code my children for easy identification by strangers?
I was amused to read recently that pink used to be the colour for boys (and no I’m not talking those pink polo shirts that were popular in the 80’s). As late as the 1940s pink, a watered down pastel version of the masculine colour red, was deemed suitable for boys. While blue, the colour associated with the Virgin Mary, was the appropriate colour for girls.
You can read more about the history of colour coding North American children here.
Whatever Happened to Gender Neutral Toys?
My mom taught me that girls can play in the dirt and boys can play with dolls. (Thanks Mom!) I was lucky to have a little brother, which meant there were plenty of trucks and construction toys around, but even before he was born my mom made sure that I had dinky cars and other “boy” toys to play with. This was in the late 70s and the early 80s. I thought by the time I had my own kids that gender stereotyping and segregation of toys would be a thing of the past. Instead we appear to be heading towards toys that are more segregated by gender, not less.
One of the things that makes fire shoot out of my ears is this new trend in releasing “girl versions” of classic toys. Fisher Price has reissued classics such as their toy phone and bubble lawn mower in bubblegum pink. My baby’s exersaucer is now available in a pink tea party themed version. The Playmobil advent calendars now come in “boy” or “girl” varieties, and they’ve ever started marketing pink Lego (aka Belville.) Come on! Lego is the ultimate gender neutral toy. Everyone loves Lego. Why the heck do we need “girl” Lego? I have nothing against princesses, castles and unicorns. I loved them as a kid. But these pink fairy princess sets make me irate. And don’t even get me started on the “pink aisle” at Toys R Us. It makes me nauseous.
Sure, some of these are unique items that open up different choices to our kids. Cool enough. But why pink and why girls only? I think I can let my daughter have the cool “boy” knight themed advent calendar without calling her femininity into question. I think she’ll be okay if her toys don’t come colour coded “pink for girls”.
But I’ve seen pictures of your daughter and she’s dressed in pink!
Despite my best efforts my daughter loves pink. I remember one Christmas when she was only about a year and a half old. We were shopping for clothes at Winners while I was trying to interest her in a pair of blue and brown PJs covered in dragons she was reaching out and asking for every pink flowery item on of the rack. My husband swears it’s a female genetic disposition. (Which of course makes me growl). She’s three now and, barring a little nudging on special occasions, I let her dress herself. I think my family delights in tormenting me by buying my daughters the most violently pink clothes available.
But what about supporting breast cancer research?
My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor. My mom just took part in the Walk For a Cure, and I sponsored her. I think there are much better way to support breast cancer research then by buying pink. The whole buy pink to support breast cancer thing is a money grab. Typically 10% or less of what you spend ends up supporting breast cancer research.
Overall, pink – meh, it’s just a colour. I have a sister in law who loves pink, and she totally rocks it. I really don’t mind if you love pink. I just hate being told that as a female I should be required to love pink, or anything else for that matter.
How about you? How do you feel about the push towards pink? or about gender specific toys?