Megnut

Stupid pink for girls

When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? looks at the issue of gender-specific clothing for children. This issue has irked me forever, but especially now that I have a daughter and my son's in school. Nearly all the girls in his class come to school dressed head-to-toe in pink. And if I don't have Minna dressed in some shade of pink, people inevitably think she's a boy. I grew up in the glory days of the gender-neutral seventies and early eighties and I've always hated pink. Keeping the pink away from Minna is a battle I'm determined to fight.

There are 19 responses

I'm with you on pink! Funny how when I buy clothes for my daughter, pink never features, but when we get presents of clothes, it always does. Right now she is wearing a grey cardigan, navy t-shrt, brown tracksuit legs! It's not as difficult as I thought to completely avoid pink. My mind boggles at people who dress their daughter head to toe in pink, from their onsie vests to the socks and shoes. They are sheople, not individuals.

I with you both, although I fear the problem will not be me lessening the amount of pink available but more my daughter demanding to wear it.

This issue bugs me more from the other side...my son absolutely loves pink and up until he started primary school this year would wear it as often as he could. But now the other kids have got to him and he refuses to wear pink anymore, though he clearly still likes it. I can tell him over and over again that pink is for anyone to wear (and I do), but it's not going to stop kids teasing him, and I can't blame him for not wanting to wear it to school anymore. I dress my 1 year old daughter in a real mix of stuff, some pink, a lot not (a lot in fact hand-me-downs from her brother). My goal with her is to not make a big deal of it either way.

While I agree in theory, my 18 month old daughter picks out the frilly pink dress, the shiny silver shoes, the pink pants at the store and brings them to me to wear at home when I put her in other things. I have tried, but apparently, she actually likes pink and dresses. But yes everything we receive as gifts is pink, everything I buy is not.

I had a blanket no pink/no princess policy when I found out I was having a girl. (My mother came over with a bag of clothes all pink and we went to the store and exchanged them!) My mother dressed me in frilly dresses and too much pink and I hated it growing up. I agree with Laura about the sheople. I want my daughter to be Camille, not just some girl. If however, when she's older and she chooses to wear pink and frills, I have no problem with that. Have you heard of this book? Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein?

As a new mom to a 7-month-old girl, I know how you feel, Meg. I don't mind pink, and I dress my daughter in pink, but I also dress her in blue, green, yellow, brown, orange, and any other color I choose. However, I know that I won't always be the one picking out her clothes.

What I detest is the whole "princess" thing. I am going to do everything in my power to avoid the relentless marketing of "princesshood". I really don't want to have to wage the battle of whether or not she wears a "Princess dress" to school every day, with Belle or Snow White or Jasmine emblazoned on it.

My wife and I aren't fans of covering girls in head to toe pink. However, pink is accepted as the "girl color", and we make sure that our 4 month old daughter has something pink (usually a blanket) when she goes out in her blue car carrier and usually non-pink clothing. That way, people know she's a girl and we don't have to bother with the annoying question or worse - having to embarrass people when they tell us how cute "HE" is.

Returning gifts simply because they're pink sounds odd to me because it's showing that you're even more concerned with the colors children wear than society already is.

Our 4 year old daughter frequently gets called my son (even though she has long hair) because she dresses in pants and dinosaur shirts.

She recently discovered barettes and fingernail polish and when she has 14 barettes in her hair and blue fingernails I'm hoping that people will start to figure it out.

@kat Oh I hate the princess thing too, that's another battle I'm gearing up for! I'm hoping if they don't watch too much TV I can avoid it, but that's probably untrue.

@shelley I don't let my kids go to the store for clothes! I buy nearly everything online for them and it's just, "Here it is, clothes!" So far that's worked for Ollie but Minna does seem to have more preferences, not just with clothes but everything. She's not as easy-going.

And yeah, Minna does wear a little pink, and a little purple. And some dresses. But I'm striving for balance (and hand-me-downs) rather than this new norm of all pink, all the time. But it's hard. I'm contemplating a fuchsia raincoat because it's a more interesting color than pale pink. But it's still very girly. Where are the nice bright reds and greens and blues and oranges and yellows? Boys hardly even seem to get those!

Meg, you might want to try Hanna Andersson clothing. It's from Sweden (I think, all euro sizing) and Fiona has worn it since she was born. They are famous for bright colors and kid prints and you can skip the pink stuff if you like.

We tried to keep pink away from Fiona for years but she gravitated to it instantly when she saw her friends in pink dresses and pink rooms, etc.

It's one of my favorite colors, my iPad cover is even pink!

When kid clothing is gender specific by color then it becomes less likely that families will be able to recycle clothes as frequently. Poof! more consumerism.

No kidding! Did you see Peggy Orenstein's article on pink a couple weeks ago http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/books/review/picture-books-for-little-princesses.html Or her book "Cinderella ate my daughter." Our son is your age, and really didn't have color bias till he went to school -- but I always used to buy "girl" socks as they came in more cheerful colors. The whole thing is so aggravating. And boys are just as slotted as girls.

I was determined not to purchase gendered items for my now almost 13 year old until she was old enough to ask for them. She was old enough at about 8 months... when I noticed her staring at the pink items as I was picking out every other color. I experimented, picked a pink item, and what I wanted to buy her and held them out. She, unfortunately, chose pink. When she was a toddler, she tried throwing everything that wasn't purple out of her godmother's shopping cart. By the time I had my boy, I was apathetic. He was always dressed in blue... and with his curls, and long eyelashes... everyone thought he was a girl anyway... my youngest, 5, I didn't bar the pink... She ended up loving trucks and dinosaurs... until exposed to people who tried telling her those were "boy" things.. sigh... I now adore pink and purple though, because I associate the colors with my first child.

on boys wearing pink ... I'd be inclined to tell them that they might not want to wear it out and about because other people are stupid, but it's perfectly fine to wear at home....

One of my favorite details from living in France is that when people (mostly older women) wanted to talk to me on the street about my baby, the first question they would ask -- even if my son was dressed in all blue -- was always, "Un garçon ou une petite fille?" Then age and name questions would follow. By contrast, I've found that people here in America almost always assume gender based on clothing. They smile at my daughter, dressed in her brother's hand-me-downs, and start with, "How old is he?"

After my experience overseas, it really surprised me to watch people here quickly scan my kid for clues and then (sometimes awkwardly) commit to a pronoun. Why is it taboo to admit that you can't always tell if these bald, rosy-cheeked starter-humans are male or female? It seems like common sense to ask first, but my U.S.-based experience has suggested that for many people, asking directly about gender would require some social courage.

To steal a phrase, "it gets better." In considering your plight, I realized that although my daughter had plenty of pink as part of her wardrobe as an infant/toddler/preschooler, it's not a big part of it now, and it doesn't take much work to find clothes that come in other colors for her current age of 9 years. She's big on teal blue and bright green at the moment. Even though we bought her dresses and pants and skirts when she was younger, today she mostly prefers blue jeans. The main angst for us now is that somebody decided "low rise" should trickle down to kids' pants. My daughter's not a fan of that, either. At least most pants have those elastic adjuster bands in the waist to help keep them snug on the hips.

@Rion Funny, I hadn't thought about that at the time, but that was exactly my experience when we were there last spring. Everyone asked first. I wish it were the same here. I don't know why people try and guess and how they can guess so wrong so often! Ollie and Minna wore the same bright green winter parka. When Ollie was little and wearing it, people always thought he was a girl. Minna in same parka, people guess she's a boy. I don't understand.

I have a lot I could say on this topic as I was just discussing this rather heatedly with my husband and we have a four-month-old girl... but I won't get too into it.

As I was expressing to him: I really hate that pink feels political. Either I'm dressing my girl all in pink as popular society seems to want me to and all the gift-giving relatives seem inclined to and thus turning her into a pretty, pretty princess or I keep out all pink and shop in the "boys" section which is pretty much what I do. All colors of the rainbow are for boys except pink! I don't like how segregating it is and how diminutive it feels.

There's also really nothing special about girls (all of them in one lump why don't we?) liking pink. Kids like bright, vibrant colors. Pink is a bright, vibrant cheerful color. Little boys like it, too. But, no, little boys cannot have it. It's girly and that's a bad thing for boys. Girls must be girly. They can wear other colors, too, but to be in the club, you gotta go pink. Augh!

And, I'm with you on the nail polish.

Gah! I've been fighting this whole 'pink' thing with my family and random strangers since my now 2 1/2 year old was born. Although my daughter now claims purple as her favorite color (which is fine), I've dressed her in 'boys' clothes and dresses that don't involve pink at all. You can still be 'girly' and 'pretty' without pink.

The assumption of gender based on clothing colors is baffling to me as well - why is it so important for people to figure this out before asking you about the kid? I've encountered people who were actually offended (really? I expected more from my fellow NYC'ers) when I told them my daughter was a girl despite wearing a light blue and red sweater.

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