Sunday, 21 September 2008

The Culture of Pink


Do you know how hard it is to find anything that isn't pink for your little girl? From day one girls are forced into the culture of ponies and fairies and pinkness. Parents become eager to buy into it too it seems, probably because it is what is deemed to be 'normal'.

Recently I stumbled on Heelarious, a site where you can purchase high heeled shoes (made of foam) for your newborn, to help them get that 'shoe fetish' underway. I can see the amusement factor in them. But mostly they just make me cringe.

Why? Because it is another step towards the indoctrination of the culture of pink.

The shoes, the clothes, the fantasy pink bedroom with the dreams of handsome princes, the bras and undies sets for tweenies, the early sexualisation of girls, the hero worship of such worthy icons as Paris Hilton, the springing up of Playboy shops (anyone want a t-shirt for their daughter with 'made for men's entertainment on it? No? Well actually, yes it would seem) and general acceptance of the Playboy label (bed linen for single beds in pink playboy bunnies - bought by parents for their young girls. Do they think it is funny?) are all part of the same thing.

It worries me that if you ask young girls who they admire and who they wish they could be like, they are likely to say Paris Hilton or someone similar. Children have always had dreams - there are plenty who would also say Hilary Duff or Miley Cyrus I am sure, at least they are dreaming there of being a singer or an actress. But we are creating a pathway that leads directly to a person who is famous for doing very little except being a society girl.

I am sure that Paris Hilton is in fact a perfectly intelligent person who does a lot of things behind the scenes. (Her recent video mocking the republican candidate points to a good wit). But it not those things that make little girls want to be her (and older girls attempt to be her).

Little girls can wear pink - and should wear pink if you want them to or they want to. There is nothing wrong with loving butterflies, and pinkness and fairies and castles and dreaming of girliness and having big eyes staring up at people. It just shouldn't be a career option.


hungrymama said...

I hate the way all kids are shoved into little gender boxes so early. Not only are girls stuck with nothing but pink and frilly but boys get nothing but colourless military styled gear. I also find that society still seems more comfortable with girls who are interested in stereotypically boy things that of boys who want to do more feminine things.

I was, however, secretly delighted when my three-year-old choose a Disney fairies magic wand to give to his father for a birthday present.

artandmylife said...

I have three small daughetrs and live in a sea of pinkness. I have provided trucks and pirate ships which are played with but not with the equal joy of little ponies. I've tried not to impose the usual stereotypes but I must have done somethign wrong.

Today I took my 5 year old to dress rehersal for her ballet school production. "Talk about pink Trev" (as John Clark might have said), "talk about stage mums". I think I have now met some of the adult women who encourage this whole thing. It was scary.
Disclaimer - my daughter chose ballet over soccer.

Azlemed said...

I too live with pinkness... but have now got a wee boy as well, the clothing choice for him is limited, the toy choice onften limited too...

my girls bedroom is green, and I love it, its fresh and fun, they have pink stuff, but I try to minimise it

they actually love thomas and postman pat as much as their ponies.
I havent let barbie into the house nor bratz and dont intend to.

artandmylife said...

Our "no Barbie" rule got broken a couple of years back" but we are definitely holding firm on "No Bratz - or the like". My girls love Thomas too but interestingly tend to play "social" games with the trains - making them little beds, giving them tea parties etc

Violet said...

funny what artandmylife said - my three year old girl love Thomas as much as My Little Pony, but when she has her larger Thomas and her smaller Thomas out at the same time, she refers to them as the mummy Thomas and the baby Thomas.

Azlemed said...

We get that too with our big and little thomas's. but mainly we just play trains with them.... the girls dont like diesels though.... naughty diesels, and miss 3 says that when she sees trucks too...

oh well at least these girls have mummies that are thinking about what they play with.

homepaddock said...

I deliberately didn't dress our daughter in pink and often chose blue clothes for her because she had blue eyes. But when she was old enough to choose herself she went for pink at first, then thankfully branched out to other colours.

A friend knitted a wee jumper & pnats suit in pastel stripes, including pink, for our son which I put on him often. But in spite of having no hesitation in dressing our daughter all in blue I wouldn't have put her brother in all pink - silly as I know that is.

ms poinsettia said...

The marketing of Playboy accessories to children makes me want to puke. 'Made for men's entertainment'!!!! WTF. I've seen the Ban the Bunny protests in the UK but, while my frequent daydream about destroying Whitcoull's display of Playboy pencil cases and the like suggests it would be my thing, I think wearing a t-shirt in which the bunny's head is being kicked into a rubbish bin still ends up reinforcing the brand.

Mikaere Curtis said...

When my daughter was four, we moved her into her own room and she got to choose the colour scheme. She chose bright pink and bright yellow with purple stars and moons on the ceiling.

The trick is to provide alternative pathways to that of least resistence (i.e. the pink pathway). The barbie she got was from India, where they are brown and I've even seen one with a nosering.

My son showed an interest in baby dolls, so got one for Xmas, which he loves playing with.

I run live action roleplaying games for kids with safe, foam weapons. Despite the overwhelming sexism in fantasy and medieval movies, girls and boys alike are both right into fighting with swords and shields.

Julie said...

My nieces are both pink freaks, at 6 and 9, and their parents have so far avoided Bratz. I firmly rejected pink as a little girl, and prefered to be a tomboy, but I have to say it seems to be more prevalent now than it was when I was little.

I too would feel a bit uncomfortable about dressing Wriggly in pink. I think it's more because if I did I would be judged quite harshly by those who saw him, and felt that I was being cruel. I just don't want to have to deal with that.

The ex-expat said...

This is a bit of a western thing. In Korea gender differences weren't so pronounced in this area. Non only did little boy wear pink so did teenagers and grown men! The only people that seemed to be uncomfortable about it were the Anglophone expats.

Anonymous said...

hungrymama - I agree, girls are encouraged/allowed to be masculine (tomboys) but boys aren't encouraged to be feminine. It's okay for anyone to be more masculine, but not okay for guys to be more feminine...

My sister is a "tomboy" who choses clothes/toys always from the boys sections. The girls sections (pink/purple exclusively) she won't go near. If there was a less rigid gender divide in shops she may think of herself as less of a misfit "boy"-girl. I wish shops were more gender-neutral and didn't have to have such exclusive boy-only, girl-only sections to divide kids up.

My sister's favourite colour is gender-neutral orange, yet this is found only in the boys clothes/toys sections (along with blue, black, green, red). I don't agree that boys have less choice in colour - they seem to have a much greater choice - they have everything left over that isn't in the girls sections (purple/pink).

My sister is in-between masculine and feminine, she is not one or the other. Yet the shops extremely different/divided sections force her to choose which one she "mostly" is, and force her to choose an identity which is either "girly-girl" or "tomboy". No in-between.