Awesome Thoughts from our Blog

Pink

October 27, 2014


Before my daughter was born, my husband and I made the bold statement that we were not going to buy her any pink clothing. If someone gave us a gift, we said, fine. We won’t return it, but we won’t buy her anything pink ourselves. 

If someone had pressed us at the time, we don’t think we could have given a coherent, articulate answer. We probably would have spouted a mish-mosh of the following:

  • Pink is too “girly.”
  • Society just tells girls they have to like pink, and we don’t have to buy into that.
  • We don’t have to have our daughter wear her gender so obviously.
  • It’s just not as good of a color as blue or yellow.

Want to guess how long our ban lasted? Yes, you’re right. Not very.

We got a lot of pink clothes as gifts when E was born, and we discovered, horror of horrors, that we actually found many of them adorable. And, when buying clothes for her on my own, I continued to find a range of clothes fun and interesting - including those that had the color pink. And, honestly, once we actually had to work on taking care of a baby, we had no time or mental energy to worry about making sure this onesie had no pink or those socks were appropriately gender-neutral.

So I threw out our no-pink mandate and life continued along until we came upon the time when E started choosing her own clothes. It was around this time that she began insisting on wearing dresses every day, and she also began taking a liking to pink. She didn’t always choose pink over other colors and she wasn’t inflexible about clothing options that weren’t pink (though she was plenty inflexible about other things), but she clearly started to like pink. And purple. So clothes of that color continued to make their way into her wardrobe. And they still do, among other colors, because she likes them.

And at some point along this journey from opposition to acceptance of pink, I started wondering. And my wondering led to more wondering and to more…

  • Why didn’t I like pink?
  • Why didn’t I want E to say her favorite color was pink?
  • Why did I want her to pick blue or green or orange as her favorite?
  • Was I valuing the traditionally more “masculine” and “male” color choices more than the female?
  • Did I view pink as “not as good” because it’s considered the more feminine color?
  • Why was I afraid of my daughter wanting to identify as “girly” and choose “girly” colors?
  • Did I view these as inferior choices because I implicitly view “girly” as inferior to “boyish” or “tomboyish”?

I don’t have all the answers to all of these questions. But I have decided that I’m going to try to stop seeing pink as inferior. Don’t get me wrong, I still strongly believe that girls should have equal access to all the colors and all the toys and all the ideas and all the things, and they don’t right now. Some things, like pink and hearts and rainbows and animals wearing lipstick are highly overrepresented. And other things, like dinosaurs and robots and trucks, aren’t even underrepresented in girls’ clothes - they’re not represented at all.

But just because some things are overrepresented and, consequently, linked to being “girly” does not make them worse (except for the animals-wearing-lipstick thing because that’s just ridiculous). And just because other things are, in our society, linked more to being “boyish” does not make them better or off-limits to girls (since of course, in practice, they aren’t off-limits at all).

E’s preschool class discussed favorite colors yesterday. At the end of the day, I saw the list of all the children and all the choices and, beside her name, written in the teacher’s neat handwriting, it said, “Pink.” After taking an internal moment to notice my feelings of surprise that she changed her favorite color from purple to pink and a bit of angst over the choice overall, I turned to her and said, “Pink, huh? That’s a great color.”


She still loves pink - so I made her a pink dress with bugs on it.



Rebecca Melsky
Rebecca Melsky

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8 Responses

E.
E.

June 26, 2017

My oldest daughter is three, and my pink and frilly ban still holds, and will continue to hold as long as I can. When she wears pink she gets called “porcelain doll” and “princess” and “darling little angel” and made a fuss over for her beauty. When she wears blue and red and yellow and green, people comment on her joy, her energy and her strength. It’s bizarre how regimented and unvarying that is—my husband and I literally kept a log of it for a month, and there were NO exceptions. Also, when she wears more “girly” clothes, strangers touch her without asking. ALL THE TIME. When she wears blue and red, they ask her if she wants a high five, and don’t touch her without asking. So, clearly something in the culture is the issue here. I’m going to keep dressing her as I do, because I want her to be complimented for her qualities, not her looks. She’s three—it’s not her job to try to please people with her appearance!

Marty6092
Marty6092

June 21, 2017

In the beginning of the 1900’s pinks and reds were actually boy colors. They were considered too stimulating for little girls. When women started fighting for the right to vote and women’s rights in general they used red and pink in their campaigns and over time the colors became associated with women. It’s interesting how things change over time.

Chris
Chris

May 24, 2017

I have both daughters and sons. My older daughter loves dresses but prefers blues and greens, black & white – no lace and no sparkles. My second daughter loves pink and purple and sparkles and lacy details but isn’t fond of skirts and really dislikes dresses. Then there is my 8 year old son who rather likes pink. Kids should be allowed to like what they like without judgment or labels.

Just Me
Just Me

March 08, 2017

Pink is overrepresented in girls’ clothing. I listed colors for my baby shower (blue, purple & neutrals…no pink), and actually received blue boy outfits, which says something, namely those people associated blue for boys instead of finding something blue in the girls’ department. Was so blessed that I only had to fill in minimally, and yet the DELUGE of pink, like seriously! My daughter gravitated to orange objects but once she found her opinions she chose pink, which had overwhelmingly crept into her wardrobe as she aged (birthday gifts & Grandma), so I gave up this lesser fight…against her and retail. She now insists on at least 1 pink item of clothing daily.

Bekah
Bekah

January 26, 2017

My son last year wanted a pair of pink Chuck Taylor’s, we had to hit the girls department to get them. Instead of going with just solid pink we opted for a pair of black one’s with pink shoe laces and pink trim. First day he wears them a girl tells him they are for girls. When did colors belong to specific genders!? One thing to dress my son in pink and an entire other to put him in a dress (though if he really wanted to wear dresses I would not stop him). This led to a conversation with other mom’s—why are kids clothing segregated anyway? Why is there a boys section and a girls section?! And if a mom decides to venture over to the boys section for a trucks/airplanes or whatever her daughter thinks is cool so she can have a shirt with that on it…who cares!? I like that pink is “in” for boys as all three of boys will tell you their favorite color is pink.

Vanessa
Vanessa

January 25, 2017

I hit a stage in my pre-teen years that lasted into my early twenties when I avoided anything girly – no pink, no dresses – and I am not really sure why. Wanted to be taken more seriously, I suppose. How freeing it was as an adult to realize that I could rock being a scientist and still enjoy pink, dresses, and all things sparkly (although I still tend to be a bit moderate about those things). That realization has certainly played into how I am raising my daughter. She is all about purple and dinosaurs who are princess and I love every moment of watching her make her choices!

Erin
Erin

July 26, 2016

I hated pink as a kid, but now as an adult and mom I am quite the pink fan. First of all, I realized that pink suits my coloring and I think there’s nothing wrong with dressing to your assets. Second, all of sudden I thought it was a great metaphor to race triathlons, do gardening, attend business meetings, dressed in all my feminine, girly, pink glory. :) My two young daughters are pretty much obsessed with pink and purple and refuse to wear anything but dresses and skirts, even if they play so hard that my husband and I seriously cringe at times and we are constantly discussing their boo boos! I love that they have an opinion (already!) about what they wear and the wear what they want regardless of the activity. Even if sometimes it’s not exactly what mama would have picked out. Shameless plug for Princess Awesome…they ADORE their play dresses! They each have the ninja one and the pi one.

Bee
Bee

July 26, 2016

Pink happens to be my favorite color. I am by society’s standard very “girly”.

But when I was pregnant with my daughter I tried to have lots of different colors around. I didn’t want to pick what she liked for her. I dressed her in lots of different styles of clothes as well. There wasn’t a pink ban but if a certain article of clothing was made in another color I would purchase it in that color.

Then she turned 2 and she insisted dresses were her favorite. She hated heavy pants her way of saying jeans. And her favorite colors were pink and purple. So I bought her what she loved. I am sure it’ll change again as she grows. She’s now three and has a huge wardrobe of dresses and tunics.

A few months ago she picked a bike that was bright green even though the salesperson at the first bike shop we went to refused to get down any bike that wasn’t pink or purple because the green and orange she liked were boy bikes. She continued to insist she didn’t want a pink or purple bike. And she said it loudly, ignoring the salesperson telling her that she couldn’t have a “boys” bike.

So I am confident that what we are trying to teach her is getting through. Even though my girl insists on pink and purple clothes and only dresses.

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