This week there was a very interesting article in the Telegraph "Pink Toys "Damaging" For Girls". As the mother of boys, I've never had to struggle with this modern problem. I've never even looked at the pink sections of toy shops.
My first son was born in the mid-90s. I remember there being a few pink toys around and the odd pink dress, nothing terribly unusual. I do remember when he was 5 years old, we went to Harrods and when we got to the "girls' floor" he asked me to guide him through as he felt the need to close his eyes and not even look at all the dolls. I remember then, there being quite a lot of pink, but again nothing terribly obscene.
My second son was born last spring and in the intervening years there seems to have been this explosion of pink. When I was first pregnant last year I did think about what the heck I'd do if I had a girl. I wasn't going to dress her in pink, but when I started looking at baby clothes again I realised the girls' things were pretty much all pink and frilly and the boys' things were very boyish. Too boyish to put on a girl, really. There doesn't seem to be many asexual clothes beyond the odd yellow or green sleepsuit.When my first son was 3, my sister got pregnant with her first, a girl. I sent her tons of baby clothes that my son had worn. They were all gender non-specific. In red, royal blue, bright green, yellow. Plain, simple. Either a boy or a girl could wear them.
This time around my son's clothes would look out of place on a girl. It's hard to find things without a gender theme, colour or look. Only another baby boy could get his hand-me-downs.
I was a tomboy growing up. I wore jeans and trainers, climbed trees, skinned my knees. I also played with Barbies, had one of those doll heads on which you could put make-up and style the hair, had a small oven in which my sister baked little cakes or our after school snacks. I never had anything pink. I wasn't forced into any particular gender role at all. I was just able to be.
I've grown up feeling completely equal to men (though not all men I've come in contact with share my feelings) and feel that I can do whatever I want to do. I would hope that if I ever had a girl she'd be able to grow up in the same way. It seems to me, however, that toys and clothes manufacturers make that rather difficult for parents of girls.
How did this happen? Is this something that parents have wanted? Has this happened because of a change in the adult world? How do parents of girls who don't want their girl to be dressed in pink all the time deal with this? Does a 6-month-old baby girl really need a pink mobile phone teething toy? Really?
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