From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com and follow her on Twitter @ThereWillBePoo.
Not the singer; I like her. And I suppose “hate” is a strong term for the color, too. Actually, I don’t really hate pink, but I’m in active rebellion against the stereotype of little girls in pink.
Sometimes people think Baby is a boy. I don’t really care; she’s dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and she doesn’t have much hair. Babies often look pretty androgenous at this age, and I don’t see being mistaken for a boy as some sort of slight. (Though it did amuse me when someone once mistook her for a boy when she was in a blue dress.) It’s like if she isn’t in pink, she must be a boy.
Do little boys get all the other colors, relegating girls to pink? Girls should be able to wear whatever color they (or their parents) want, and so should boys. Husband looks really cute in a pink gingham shirt I got him and, if I ever have a boy, I’ll get him one, too.
Baby has a few pink items of clothing, but I try to avoid it because it makes me think of unpleasant stereotypes – of little girls dressed up like dolls and taught that their self-worth is tied up in their appearances. I’ve found it incredibly hard to find a bathing suit and pajamas that aren’t pink. I realize that pink isn’t a problem in and of itself.
I want to teach Baby that she is capable of accomplishing many amazing things, to have confidence in her intelligence and abilities, to value her mind and not put too much importance on her appearance. I don’t want for her to be plagued by body image issues or feel like she is limited by her gender. I think women still aren’t truly equal in our society, and that isn’t really so surprising when you think about the fact that women have only had the right to vote in our country for 92 years, this August 26.
So the color pink isn’t responsible for the historical inequity of women; but for me it’s a representation. I don’t think everyone needs to follow my pink boycott. I don’t look at little girls dressed in pink and shake my head. Well, maybe I do a little, but I shouldn’t. Equality and empowerment are about being able to be whoever you want to be, and no one should be stereotyped based upon their appearances.
I just want to be conscious of the messages Husband and I are sending Baby. I want to teach her to think critically about the messages that society is sending, inherent in every advertisement and children’s book, and pretty much every interaction she has with the world around her. Husband and I like to gush over her incredible amazingness, and we try to use adjectives like “clever” and “strong” instead of “beautiful” and “pretty.”
Of course I’m terrible about slipping and telling her she’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen; it’s funny how ingrained certain things are. Those of you with boys, question: Do you say “beautiful” too? Or do you find yourselves saying things like “strong” and “smart?” And to those readers with girls: What do you say? I’m really curious on both accounts.
An article about gender-neutral toys on Today.com got me started on this rant. It asks if they are “much ado about nothing,” and I don’t think they are. I think it’s important to consider the choices you are making as a parent. That doesn’t mean you have to stress about every toy, every outfit; just that you should be aware that your choices, in general, are sending your kids a message.
Baby has a doll and some stuffed animals, but I’ll admit that it makes me happy when she plays with her car. And if she asks for a toy kitchen set someday, I’ll get her one; just like I would if I had a son and he asked for one. I’ll paint her toenails and play dress up with her, too. But some of the fairytales I read to her may be edited a bit and she will be required to play in the dirt at least once a day. After all, it’s all about balance.