At the start of the summer holidays, we went clothes shopping. The hardest thing to find were shorts for our two-year-old daughter.
To cut a long story short, we didn’t think hotpants were appropriate so came home empty-handed. While we were looking in one store, though, I spotted a T-shirt which really annoyed me.
“I can change the world” proclaimed the slogan. In pink, sparkly lettering with a heart and star thrown in for good measure. The design had missed the point and, indeed, a good opportunity.
Pinkification. Yuck. It was basically like creating a slogan extolling the virtues of vegetarianism out of sausages.
I’ve never been a fan of the idea of blue for boys and pink for girls. As far as I’m concerned, it’s stuck in the 1950s and doesn’t do either gender any favours.
I don’t have a problem with pink or blue in themselves, you understand. It’s the almost-enforced identity that is often attributed to them that I have issue with.
It’s because of pinkification that there is a gender gap in STEM jobs. Which, of course, is just plain wrong.
I’m proud to say that we’ve always encouraged our kids to choose clothes in terms of comfort and toys based on how fun or educational they are. I hate the idea of gender exclusivity. Clothes should be clothes and toys should be toys.
We should be encouraging kids to be the best versions of themselves – not steering them towards stereotypical roles in life.
Since youngest was born, I’ve become more aware of how damaging pinkification can be. Sadly, society is still very sexist and, as things stand, I doubt it will treat her the same as her brothers in adult life.
With that in mind, we’ve redoubled our efforts. But I’ve noticed that she’s drawn to things like the aforementioned T-shirt. The thing that intrigues and frustrates me in equal measure is that this seems to be innate.
We have obviously never pushed things generally considered ‘girly’ on her. Neither has she picked it up from other kids – she doesn’t start nursery until next month and the Rhymetime sessions we take her to every week are obviously focussed on music.
For my part, I’ve always politely declined offers to review toys that are obviously targetted at one gender.
Adverts on TV will have reinforced her apparent interest in conforming to stereotype, of course, but she rarely talks about them so I think the leaning was already there.
Has pinkification become so ingrained that it’s hard-wired into kids these days? Or is it just endemic and imparted via osmosis? Certainly, having gender-specific aisles packed with things like said T-shirt can’t help.
Whatever the explanation, it’s not good news. And pink, sparkly lettering is never going to change the world.