Monday, June 27, 2011
Color Wars ... Pink vs Not Pink
Hi Meltingpot Readers,
Between the recent J. Crew ad featuring the little boy with the pink painted toenails, to the Canadian family who refuses to reveal the sex of their four-month old child, I've been thinking a lot about gender roles, societal expectations of boys vs girls and the color pink. As I am about to give birth to a girl-child, my ruminations are not in vain. I want to be prepared to raise a healthy girl with a strong sense of self, who feels free to express herself.
Now just some background. My mom had ten sisters and a very strong mother. I went to a very affirming women's college. And I firmly believe in single-sex education. I have never felt any doubt that my feminist muscle was ready to take on the world. Until now. I was all prepared to paint the baby's new room yellow or green or some other neutral color that says 'you don't have to be a girlie girl,' when el esposo raised his voice and said, I'd like to paint the room pink. (record scratch). Since I didn't actually have any other color picked out, I meekly said okay, but then I started to worry if I was heading down some Disney princess path of no-return?
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I get a package in the mail full of baby clothes and blankets from some of my family members. Yes, they are all pink and fluffy. Should I send them back? I wondered. What kind of tidal wave of pink am I going to have to fight? Will Barbies be next? And what does it all mean? Maybe I should be like the Canadian family and name my daughter something neutral like, Moon and let her find her own way.
But then I calmed down. I decided to have my friend paint a giant giraffe on the (pale, pale) pink walls of the nursery and accent the room with chocolate brown and a spot of red. I bought a navy blue dress at Target that was just too cute and I picked up a pink polo shirt for my younger son. And it was my son that made me get a clue. He objected to the color of his new shirt. "Pink is for girls," he cried. And I quickly responded that colors don't belong to one sex. Anybody can wear any color they want to. And to think that somebody could "own" a color is ridiculous. My son bought it and so did I. At exactly that moment I realized how silly it was to uphold color as gender specific. My husband wears pink and I often wear navy blue and black and we are so not gender curious. We just look good in those colors. Isn't that what it's all about? In fact, by buying into color stereotypes (oh, I can't paint my daughter's room pink or she'll grow up to be weak and girly) is as damaging, I think, as only letting her wear feminine colors and playing with American Girl Dolls.
My new mantra as it relates to raising my daughter will be, 'let's do what feels good and looks right." What do you think? Can colors define a person's personality? Do all little girls just want to wear pink naturally? Anybody out there refuse to let their girls wear pink?