We went up to the cabin this weekend, located in the vast north woods of Wisconsin. Within thirty minutes of arriving we had set out on our first adventure with the kids. I took this photo of Amelia as she made her way down the steep, rocky drive and it struck me how much pink she was wearing. This is something not common for her and it seemed like an odd color to wear to go explore the muddy, early spring trails.
She had marched out of the cabin happy and confident, so I bit my tongue over telling her to change into pants she can get dirty and muddy. She howled for wolves on her way down to the meadow and creek. As we threw rocks and snow into the water Amelia and her best friend who was our guest for the weekend begged to trek across the road to the neighbor’s house where a team of sled dogs live in order to ask the neighbor if she would take them mushing. Dog sledding? I don’t know the term for that one.
I do know this — Pink can get dirty and muddy. Pink can go on adventures. Girls wearing pink are not going to not get dirty and muddy because of the pink. Not unless we tell them not to.
Much thought and debate is given to such a simple color these days. The gender stereotypes so often packaged in pink are far less simple. I am frequently involved in these conversations and I often find myself thinking about what girls think about all of this pink. Do they see it the same way adults do? We definitely hear from girls who are tired of all the pink, but do they see the color as limiting or as presenting limitations like so many of their parents do? As far as my daughter goes, the answer is no. Well, the answer is actually more like “sometimes”.
If you were to ask Amelia what her favorite color is she will sometimes say pink, sometimes blue, and sometimes “all of them”. She will rant for hours to anyone who will listen about the gendering and sexism of Legos. But when her dad presented her with her first red Swiss army knife this weekend she asked if they also came in pink. She is eight years old and seems to be going through a very feminine stage right now (on some days), but she is overall a very balanced and well rounded kid so I’m not freaking out over a little pink and princess. It is a small part of her total package.
Pink has become a sort of uniform for girls, and that does bother me a great deal. I dislike the loss of individuality for herd mentality. I dislike that gender has to be the most salient quality about our daughters. Have you been to a preschool or elementary school lately? Herds of pink little girls. My daughter and I are often frustrated at the lack of color choices when shopping for things like coats, boots, and outdoor gear. Such was the case when we found the coat in the photo above. Our choices were pink, pink, and pink at the time we needed to buy one. We bought the blue rain boots from the “boys” section. Though my daughter’s closet includes a rainbow of color, there are definitely days she trends towards the monochromatic look. The day after she wore all pink she wore all blue.
And here is what I was thinking as I watched Amelia, her little brother Ben, and her best friend Maddy explore the great woods of Wisconsin that hold endless adventures for them: I think it is important for adults to be wise to the gendering of children’s products and the stereotypes packaged in pink. But more importantly, I think we need to be very, very careful we do not package our girls in those same stereotypes just because they are wearing pink.
I say YES to limiting gendered products and unbalanced media.
I say YES to dismissing the gender stereotypes.
I caution you about limiting or dismissing the girls in pink.