“Aww he’s so cute!!”
“She, actually, but thank you. Her name is Willow”
“Oh well, forgive me but she isn’t wearing pink!!”
Research tells me that in the 1800s all babies wore white. Pastel baby clothes were introduced gradually throughout the mid-nineteenth century but the colours weren’t gender-specific at first. In fact:
It wasn’t until the 1940s that manufacturers apparently decided clothing should be ‘pink for a girl, blue for a boy’ and this took hold in the 1980s when prenatal gender testing was developed. Once parents knew what gender they were expecting they could plan and decorate a nursery accordingly and buy gender-specific clothes in preparation for their little one’s arrival. Of course the clever, money-grabbing manufacturers saw a chance to cash in and advertising pushed forward the need for “appropriate” colours, and parents were made to feel that little sisters simply couldn’t be seen in their big brother’s blue outfits, and vice versa.
Well, I’m annoyed by this. I have two girls and have had many a confused stranger making assumptions they were boys, because they have worn blue. Me dressing them in blue wasn’t in protest, in fact I was much further from rebellion back then than I am now – it just so happens that they look great in blue, it really brings out the colour in their eyes.
My eldest daughter was raised wearing a mixture of colours – in my view it was ‘the brighter the better’ – and then she hit two and turned into a pink-loving, princess-mad, dress-obsessive overnight. So be it, if it makes her happy, it makes me happy – mostly I feel content knowing she loves pink because SHE LOVES PINK, not because anyone told her she should.
This week we met the adorable and effortlessly cool Mason. Mason is a bouncing, bubbly, explosion of colourful cheer. Mason’s favourite colour is also pink. Mason is a very happy, pink-wearing, rainbow-loving 3 year old boy who can’t keep his hands off his boy parts. (Sorry Mason’s Mama, but it does make me chuckle!!) And if I had a son to raise, I would like to think he would be just as colourful and free with his choices as Mason clearly is.
I’ve been having a think about why the whole ‘blue for boys, pink for girls’ concept irritates me so much and it’s mostly because it’s quite possibly the earliest example of a person being pigeon-holed based on their gender. “Girls should wear pink” is a ridiculous belief, usually held by the sort of narrow-minded people who also believe girls can’t be mechanics, boys can’t be nurses, girls can’t play in the mud and boys mustn’t play with dolls – because, heaven forbid they group up to be, you know, ahem… Great Fathers. *Sigh*
Some clothing companies are finally cottoning on to the fact that gender shouldn’t determine colour choices. Ranges such as Jules Oliver’s retro Little Bird and Nordic wizards HeiMoose nod towards a notion that kids can wear any colour they/their parents like and the slogan-loving folks at Selfish Mother go one step further and stick a middle finger up at gender stereotypes with their pink “Boy” t-shirts and blue “Girl” babygrows.
Naturally, I love them, they give me hope that maybe children’s clothing designers are finally accepting that fashion is about expressing your personality and wearing what suits you, and that this shouldn’t just apply to adults. I suppose we’ll just have to wait for the rest of them to get on board, including my beloved Cath Kidston: *rolls eyes*
Girls, boys, women, men they can all do whatever they want – even switch gender, thanks to modern science, if that’s what takes their fancy. There really should be no limit to where life can take you. People should be allowed to do whatever their heart desires, their income allows and their skills, beliefs and knowledge lend themselves to.
In this day and age, where women reach career heights formally reserved for men and equal pay is on the horizon, surely we should be encouraging the next generation to be who they want to be, wear what they want to wear and do what makes them happy?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to try and convince my gorgeous, clever, brave, imaginative, tutu-swathed daughter that she can indeed be anything she wants to be, she just can’t be Queen Elsa from sodding Frozen. Kapow!! 👊🏼