Pinks and Not Pinks

“Thought of you and Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies this morning when I made a quick trip to the local public library. I was refilling my water bottle when a 2 year old girl sat down at the kids computer with her Mom. The little girl asked her Mom if she could wear the boy’s headphones (blue/red) instead of the girls (paisley pink). The mother said that anyone could use either pair! When I agreed with the mother, she replied “it’s amazing what they learn by 2″.” -Susan G

I love the mom’s response! Yes!! Colors are for everyone.

Thanks to Susan for recognizing this moment and sharing it with us.

Gender Norm Brains

How early do children begin to exhibit an understanding of gender roles?

How early do children learn to limit themselves according to gender?

How does this impact childhood?

 

When our system of binary gender is ingrained by age 2 through socialization, can you see how children learn to:
1. Play along to get along, when it comes to gender roles. Girls do this and boys do that.
2. Limit themselves based on what is “for a boy” or “for a girl” through learned gendered coding of colors.

Using the example above, let’s play a game of what if’s:

1. What if *only* the blue/red head phones had been sitting out? Could the very little girl have thought computers are for boys because she didn’t see any pink tipping her off that computer time is also for girls?

2. If she’s learned this early that pink things are for girls and non-pink things are for boys, could the color coded toys of childhood today heavily influence her toy/play choices?
If yes, what toys are typically pink and what toys are typically not pink? What cognitive skills develop from different types of play? What cognitive skills are not developed when types of play are limited or avoided?

3. Finally, if the understanding of gender is influencing her activity choices from age 2, how would we ever know what her true interests are or could have been?

Childhood is a time for great exploration that should not be impeded by the pink or blue boxes we place our sons and daughters in, sometimes as early as that 20 week ultrasound.

We don’t let our children develop as unique and complex individuals, we let them grow up as members of one gender or the other. Their childhoods shaped by the expectations of the gender society limits them to.

 

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Melissa headshot 1 fb sizeMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals) and Pinterest (Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies). 

We Are Approaching This All Wrong: It’s a child

“What is it?” is usually the first thing expectant parents are asked. It does seem a bit odd that we bring a new life into the world and our custom is to zero in on itty bitty baby genitals and predetermine who that person will be based on biological sex and our cultural understanding of gender.

I suggest we let gender be the least salient quality we see in a children, and instead see each child for the unique person they are.

But I digress…….

“What is it? It’s a child.”  by European children’s apparel company Villervalla.

 

Which approach seems a more fitting way to welcome into our world a newly born life?

Villervalla

 

And this isn’t a bad idea either……

Source unknown

Source: idiopathicsmile tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just over half of parents find out the sex of their baby during pregnancy, the rest choose to be surprised. Important to note here – parents find out the sex of the baby, male or female, in ultrasound. The gender of the baby comes later, and may not always align with the biological sex. All those “It’s a boy!” and “Congrats on your little girl!” balloons should more accurately read “It’s a male!” and “Congrats on your little female!” For many parents, once the sex of the baby is revealed their world begins to fill with gendered items in a wave of pink or blue. Ballerinas or baseball bats, princesses or pirates. When it comes to baby items, it is usually “either or” not “this AND this”, which is a shame because when we limit our children we limit our children.

For those parents who don’t find out their baby’s sex in utero, some feel it helps them get through the delivery knowing the “big reveal” is just a few (or fifty) pushes away. Or they feel the sex of the baby doesn’t really matter, either way they are having a brand new child –  a very tiny person who will need to learn, explore, experience, and love all there is to life regardless their “boy or girl” status.

Some parents feel knowing the sex helps them connect to the little life they will soon be in charge of caring for, for others it makes the pregnancy seem more real and parenting more doable. For some it helps with planning, deciding on a name, or they are just so excited to meet their son or daughter and want to know everything they can as soon as they can. Happy healthy families is what we’re after so we should be respectful of individual family’s choices and joyfully welcome them to parenthood.

Whatever your family chose to do or chooses to do in the future, let’s just remember one really important fact: There are many ways to be a girl and many ways to be a boy. And all of childhood is magical.

 

*Hat tip to @HippieHappy_ and @LetToysBeToys for the Villervalla video.

** If you know the original source of the Parenting Tip image, please let us know so that we can properly credit. (Update: Found it!)

 

MAW Profile PicMelissa Atkins Wardy is a speaker, media consultant, and the author of Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween. She is the creator and owner of Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies, a company that has been offering empowering apparel and gifts to Full of Awesome kids since 2009 www.pigtailpals.com.

Find her at www.melissaatkinswardy.com. You can read her blog at: www.pigtailpalsblog.com or connect with her on Facebook (Pigtail Pals Ballcap Buddies) and Twitter (@PigtailPals).