Sure, Adelaide likes pink. When asked a few weeks ago, she told me pink was her favorite color. (Hey, why not? It is a pretty color.) I don’t mind her having pink clothes and toys. However, I hate that when I looked up kids umbrellas on Amazon the other day, the pink one with owls on it was labeled a “girls umbrella” while the blue one with monkeys was a “boys umbrella.” Why can’t my kid have the blue one? She likes monkeys. The fact that the blue umbrella is in some way better for boys is just absurd.
Yoon’s website says of her research, “Pink was once a color associated with masculinity, considered to be a watered down red and held the power associated with that color. In 1914, The Sunday Sentinel, an American newspaper, advised mothers to ‘use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.’ The change to pink for girls and blue for boys happened in America and elsewhere only after World War II.”
And we apparently took it too far. Encouraging girls to wear pink and recognizing that it didn’t have to be just a boy’s color has completely been overcompensated to the point where we’ve just reversed the stereotypes completely instead of eradicating any superficial connection to gender.
So, should I discourage Adelaide from having pink toys and toys obviously marketed at girls? Last week my sister called concerned that the doctor’s kit she found as a Christmas gift is Doc McStuffins pink and sparkly medical bag. Should I tell my sister, yes, please find a sterile white doctor’s playkit if you can? I don’t know. Playing with fairies and pretending to be a princess is fun. I don’t want to say my daughter (or son) can’t do those things. I think a big part of the solution is being self aware of how much gender stereotyped marketing is around us. And, as a parent, try to see it for what it is and not buying into it (it’s too hard for the kids, but perhaps as adults we can set a good example and start conversations early). I know we all have gender stereotypes engrained in us, even if it’s subconscious. As the mother of a female toddler, I want to be sure to encouraging the trucks, super heroes and carpentry gear that’s marketed toward boys and maybe pick the purple stroller instead of the pink one.
How have you handled gender stereotyping in your home? Has gender marketing affected you or your child?
UPDATE: I just read another blog post on this subject called, “‘Gender neutral’ not exactly what I’m going for….” Well said, Margot Magowan.