pretty in pink…

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Walk into any baby section of a clothing store and one will notice two distinct sections – the blue section, rift with sports themes, cars, and puppy dogs – and the pink section, with flowers. Companies have been marketing gender differences for years, although they’ve raised the bar. It doesn’t end with clothing anymore. Large ticket items are now included in this marketers’ dream. As a mother of four recently told me, she had difficulty finding a gender neutral infant only carseat for her last child.

While engendering everything is great from the company’s viewpoint (compelling parents to buy new when they have a second child of opposite gender rather than reusing an item), from a societal stance, it’s disturbing. No longer are babies free from genderism. Forget even buying gender neutral clothing for little ones. While one might luck out and find a few newborn items in yellow or green, after that the challenge is greater. When I recently went to purchase some new onsies for my new daughter, I was hard pressed to even find purple in the sea of pink.

When I was pregnant with our first child, I was bound and determined that our children would not fall prey to this forced genderization. We bought green and yellow clothing with a few blues (after all, I’m a girl and blue is my favorite color). When our son was born and then outgrew the 0-3 month sized clothes, we quickly realized how hard it was to find clothes without sports or trucks, or even dogs. We didn’t give up, though. He looked smashing in oranges and bright colors. When strangers would comment on how beautiful my daughter was, I would just nod and smile and accept it as a compliment (although I would prefer to avoid such compliments).

A couple of years later, we had our first daughter and were bombarded with pink outfits from relatives; she looked like a little pixie in them. I was beginning to embrace what I so strongly believed against. When I received a few compliments about my handsome new son, it bothered me. The fact that it bothered me shook me even more. Why was it easier to shrug off compliments when my son was referred to as a girl than when my daughter was referred to as a boy? I still eschewed the pink, but I found myself purchasing more feminine outfits in yellows, lavenders, and greens (the few I could find) for my little pixie more so than I would have imagined. Sometimes our psyches absorb more of what is pressed upon us than we realize.

I inwardly cringed when my daughter was a little older and went through a pink phase, although I reminded myself it was just a color. She really does look good in pink. However, I’ve made a point to make certain that my children know that colors shouldn’t be gendered, anyone can play dolls, trucks, or any other toy, dirt and worms are great fun for all, and you shouldn’t allow anyone to limit what you can do.

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