Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pretty in Pink?

Well, the information is out on the Internet now--I'm pregnant, and I'm having a girl! 

Doug and I were eager to get to Babies R Us to start our registry. We certainly don't expect to get all our registry items as gifts, but it was exciting to finally spend time gazing longingly at things our baby just might end up using. 

Since we found out we're having a girl, I've been avoiding things that are aggressively girly. In fact, I've been avoiding pink altogether--not because I have anything against it, but because I'm sure we'll get plenty of pink clothes, blankets, etc. from other people, and I want to be able to go through our daughter's first year without being constantly bombarded by pink. And I think it's strange--supposedly pink is for girls and blue is for boys, but baby boy clothes are not always blue. In fact, I would hazard a guess that they're mostly not blue. Yet, people feel the need to dress up their daughters as pink princesses every moment of every day. 

But I didn't feel that strongly about it. So people like to dress up their little girls in pink; so what? 

But as it turns out, it doesn't end there. It's not just frilly pink tutus parents of girls are expected to buy; it's pink everything. Pink carseats. Pink crib bedding. Pink bath towels. And the worst part? The bottles. Yes, the very bottles your baby will drink from must either be pink or blue. Why?? This makes absolutely no sense to me. 

It's not just a practicality issue (that if/when I have a boy, I'll be able to use this stuff again). What I don't understand is why, from their infancy, we have to divide everything our children use by gender. 

Don't get me wrong--I believe firmly in gender differences, and I believe women should be proud of our femininity. But I don't know that buying pink bottles for our daughters is the way to go. A color doesn't teach someone true femininity and womanhood. Being a woman isn't about being pretty in pink all the time. It's about finding power in our inborn feminine traits and using that power as a force for good in the world. 

What does pink mean in our culture? Think about it--if you knew a woman who wore pink every single day, what would you think about her? Possibly pretty, ditzy, delicate, perky, ignorant. (Think "Legally Blonde"?) I'm not saying pink is totally defined by this kind of image, but if we didn't have certain ideas surrounding pink in our culture, then it wouldn't be such a "girly" color. 

Like I said, I have nothing against pink. Ultimately, it's just a color, and it'll help strangers know what gender my baby is for the first year or so. I'm happy to dress my daughter to look feminine and cute. But at some point, I want her to realize that femininity is about more than just being pretty and cute--I want her to see beyond the pink. And if I want her to see beyond the pink, then I probably shouldn't smother her with it. 


  1. Love this post! Your writing amazes me. It is both amusing and profound.

  2. I totally agree with you. If I ever have a daughter, I plan to request that people give me items that are anything but pink. I will go crazy on the purple instead.

  3. When I was pregnant with Summer, I avoided buying anything pink, and when people asked, I requested that they not give me pink baby gifts. I still got plenty of pink. But I warmed up to the pink clothes more every time someone told me what a cute little boy I had! For the first few months of Summer's life, literally 100% of people who guessed a gender guessed that she was a boy. I think it's probably because she had so little hair.

    There are other good ways to indicate a baby's gender, though. A bow in the hair is a dead giveaway, and of course, a dress will do the trick. Or you could just get some fabric paint and write "GIRL" on all the baby's onesies!

    I did occasionally have people guess that Summer was a boy even when she was completely decked out in pink. I'm glad she finally has her adorable little curls, so she can wear whatever she wants!

    White's another good color to avoid. Spit-up turns white clothes yellow over time, and of course, what comes out of the other end isn't good for white either! I actually wanted some black stuff for Summer because Ken's favorite color is black, but it's pretty much impossible to find black baby clothes.

  4. I agree with Carrie. You need a way for strangers to be able to tell gender. Here's a trick for bows if your baby doesn't have much hair to clip it to: I would glue them to her head using ky jelly. It works great, it's totally safe, and washes off easily!

  5. I have two daughters, and IME even when they were wearing hot pink people would guess they were boys. But I do not care if people mistake them for boys--what does it matter? Not a big issue. It so happens that I like blue and green best, so I bought a lot of blue and green, sometimes from the boy side of the aisle. The clothes were cute! (Pro tip: green is not a good color for a going-home-from-hospital outfit. Because new babies are usually a little bit jaundiced and green does NOT help.)

    It has been interesting, and somewhat worrying, to watch children's clothing and toys go from somewhat gender-neutral in my own childhood to aggressively gender-specific now, and every year seems to get more so. On the one hand, it seems that if you let children 2-5 pick their own clothes, they really do enforce gender roles, because they're working out what it means to be a boy or a girl. So a girl will think "I'm a girl and girls like pink so I like pink because I'm a girl and pink is for girls." It's kind of circular and self-reinforcing. But there is nothing inherent in pink that makes it girly; that's just the color our society has picked 'for girls' and we happen to be in a spot where that is being pushed really hard. Which is kind of weird.

    I actually do know a woman who wears pink every day, often has pink hair, calls herself Pinky, etc.

  6. I said that every year it seems to get more aggressive about the gender thing. For example--my oldest is 14, and there were no pink bottles in 2000. There were just bottles. Car seats were almost always gender-neutral. I'm sure there were pink towels, but I mostly remember yellow. Some of what you're talking about is pretty new.