Pink stinks. It really does.
Before I had my daughter, I was already annoyed at the quantity of pink clothing that was out there for girls. But now that I shop for baby and toddler clothes on a regular basis, I find myself getting more and more frustrated.
Some shops are worse offenders than others, but sometimes there is no choice except pink or blue. There’s such a stark contrast between the boys and the girls clothes. Where’s the variety?
And it’s not a colour issue, it’s the designs of the clothes themselves. For example, boys t-shirts get trucks, trains, dinosaurs, spaceships, animals. Girls get butterflies, flowers, stars, princesses and love hearts. Oh god, the love hearts. Why?!
A little while ago I was trying to find a rash-vest for my daughter – now 16 months old. The blue and pink divide was very clear, as always. But worse, I think, were the choice of animal logos. Boys (or, I should say, the blue and green swimwear) had turtles and starfish. The girls were in various shades of pink and mauve with a choice of: seahorses or flamingoes. Except they weren’t just seahorses and flamingoes. The seahorses had glittery sparkles and bows on their heads. The flamingoes made the shape of a love heart and were captioned with the words “Summer Love”. This is clothing for a one-year-old.
Kmart clothes are particularly bad in terms of their baby clothes. If it’s not the stereotypical gendered colours, it’s all their naff phrases. “Daddy’s little princess”, or “Mummy’s little angel”, etc. They make me want to puke.
Oh, and don’t get me started on all the tassels and frills. The limited colours are bad enough, but the selection of say, t-shirts, for girls, always tend to have puffy sleeves. Or the swimming cozzies have tassels around the legs, or the trousers have ruffles across the bum or lace around the hem. I just don’t see how those kinds of frills are necessary on a baby or a child. On occasion they might be cute, but they just seem to accentuate the idea that females are there to be looked at. Why have ruffles across the bum or tassels on the legs if not to draw attention to those parts of the body? What does a toddler want with these things?
And if the clothes for girls must be pink, why can’t their tees at least also have trains or trucks or tennis rackets or planets?
In the UK, there’s an organisation called Pink Stinks that is working to redress the pinkification. In Sweden there are schemes underway to make marketing to children less stereotypically gendered. I think we need to start something like that in Australia**.
I’m sure some would argue that I am being overly sensitive, and that it doesn’t really matter, they are just clothes. But the thing is, they are not just garments. Right from birth we are told what is appropriately masculine or feminine. Certain colours or toys or roles aren’t seen as appropriate for girls, and certain aren’t seen as proper for boys. Right from the beginning both boys and girls are stereotyped and limited by society. And this is where it is problematic.
I don’t know what the answer is. I try to avoid purchasing pink clothes for my daughter, but I can’t avoid it completely. And actually, I wouldn’t want to ignore pink altogether. I don’t want to dress my baby as a political statement. Pink is a fine colour…in moderation. What I would like though, is greater choice in the colours available. Where I could go to the shops and instead of there being boys’ and girl’s sections, there was a children’s section... with green, purple, yellow, orange, red, turquoise, and everything in between. Where pink was just one option among a rainbow of colours.
** I wrote all of the above last week, but just this morning came across an Australian lobby group, Play Unlimited, who have begun petitions to try and change the way retailers like ToysRUs market to children! Fantastic! We need more like this.
If you think their following three points are a good idea (YES YES YES!) please take a moment to sign their petition.
1 – Remove ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ headings from their website and marketing and sort toys by theme.
2 – Be diverse in their marketing – let’s see examples of both girls and boys playing with all sorts of toys
3 – Stop using pink and blue as proxies for ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ sections within marketing materials; let children know that a world of colour is available to them.