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DD (2) has started up with the 'pink is for girls, blue is for boys' - how to deal?

(38 Posts)
makemineabacardi Thu 02-Jan-14 12:28:31

I've always been very careful with DD (who is 3 next month) to try to avoid pigeonholing her with colours, toys, clothes etc. She wears any colour she chooses, plays with both dolls and cars, loves Spiderman and horses equally etc etc. I feel very strongly about the 'let toys be toys' view so for most of her life I've tried not to make a big deal out of the gender segregation for small children (which in my opinion is far more apparent than it was than in the 80's when I grew up).

Very recently she seems to have 'noticed' the gender divide so has started asking questions. For example, she told me on the way home from nursery a few days ago that old mantra 'pink is for girls, blue is for boys' until I reminded her that my fave colour is blue and she also says blue is her fave too. She's started doing things like picking up her Spiderman top, looking confused and saying 'but its for boys'. The same for her new shoes - which she chose but are also from the Clarks boys' range. She'll still wear them happily but she's starting to ask questions.

I've tried explaining to her that all colours and toys are for anyone and anyone can play/wear them etc, but is this how I should be saying it? Is there a better way to make it clearer for her in a way she would understand?

It's inevitable I guess that she would reach this stage (I'm guessing she picked it up at nursery as we have no family here and she doesnt get it from friends), and a bit depressing as I thought she would be older than this. 2 seems very young to be aware of this.

So any good pointers for me? How do fellow feminists deal with this issue with their children?

Thanks smile

ErrolTheDragon Thu 02-Jan-14 12:38:24

I think you're on the right lines: 'I've tried explaining to her that all colours and toys are for anyone and anyone can play/wear them' seems spot on - let her choose (nothing wrong with some pink if she wants, so long as its not an inferior product). Gently rebut the 'blue is for boys' and cheerfully ignore the silly signs in shops foolish enough to still have them (maybe we need a 'shoes are for kids' campaign next.... clarkes is really annoying).

Encourage her to think for herself and develop her own tastes and interests.

sydenhamhiller Thu 02-Jan-14 12:40:21

They are very influenced by their peers, it's true. I just kept it low key with my 3. I'd say things like "but my favourite colour is light blue, so it's not just a boy's colour" and "think about daddy's pink shirt he wears with his new suit, and he's not a girl". And fortunately DD1 has finally outgrown the pink stage.

makemineabacardi Thu 02-Jan-14 12:47:21

Thanks both smile. I'm conscious this is something I don't want to mess up.

She does have some pink (including a pink handbag she loves) which is fine with me, I just don't want her to feel that's all she can have.

I'm not girly at all and my fave colour is blue, but as a child adored The Little Mermaid so there can be a balance.

As for shoes - I prefer to buy her boys' ones since they're so much more suitable for all weather and rough outdoor play than girls' ones. Clarks is a particularly bad offender with this. A topic for another time but a 'shoes are for kids' campaign would be perfect!

ErrolTheDragon Thu 02-Jan-14 13:05:09

I really like some of the outdoorsy shops for practical shoes/boots/sandals for kids - e.g. Mountain Warehouse has mostly identical 'kids' or 'juniors' styles in different colours. Some of them I'm sure many boys would avoid but girls can choose anything - if they want pink/purple that's fine because its still just as practical, but if they prefer blue/green/whatever its not labelled 'boy'.

makemineabacardi Thu 02-Jan-14 13:20:05

That's a good idea Errol, I'll have to take a look. Finding good quality non-gendered shoes is hard - as is well documented on this site!

seafoodudon Thu 02-Jan-14 13:29:54

Exactly the same issue with DD1 - almost exactly the same age. I was really surprised when she said the pink/blue thing. I asked the childminder who said that DD had been looking at a 'my new baby' book and asked why the illustration of the hospital cots had blue ribbons on some cots and pink on others. Thankfully DH wears more pink than I do - so we talk about daddy's pink shirts and mummy's blue jeans a lot. Thankfully red is her favourite colour at the moment and we got some fab red trainers in Next (and there's another thread about our efforts to find a red bike).

PenguinsDontEatStollen Thu 02-Jan-14 14:47:41

I have had this with DD1(4.5) but not yet DD2 (2.5).

I tend to say "that's not how it works. Colours aren't for boys or for girls. That pink ball is for anyone who likes the colour pink" or whatever. I don't make a big deal, I just correct her whenever it comes out.

A friend at school told her recently that red apples were for girls because they were sweeter. Didn't quite know how to process that one! Just reminded her that I prefer green apples and her dad likes red ones.

2beornot Thu 02-Jan-14 14:52:16

I have similar problems with my dd (nearly 3). She'll say things like nail varnish is just for girls. I'll correct her and say boys can wear it if they want to but the problem is that we don't know any male who would wear nail varnish. So how do I open her mind when all she is doing is summarising the world around her?

PenguinsDontEatStollen Thu 02-Jan-14 14:58:02

I would normally deal with something like that with saying "Well, anyone who wants to wear nail varnish can do. You are right though that I've seen more girls who choose to wear it than boys". So validate the observation, but refuse to agree it is a 'rule' if that makes sense?

ErrolTheDragon Thu 02-Jan-14 14:59:55

2b - google some images of Johnny Depp grin

2beornot Thu 02-Jan-14 15:08:15

Errol - do I have to?! grin

MothershipG Thu 02-Jan-14 15:09:26

Gird your loins OP this is just the start of it all.

My DD has an older brother so when she was little she happily wore lots of 'boy' clothes and played with whatever was around. But when she got to about 3 she became very pink and girly and seriously into shoes, despite having a mother who habitually wears black and comfortable shoes.

But don't panic! It was a phase, she grew out of it, she is still considerably more stylish than me, much better at putting an outfit together, much better looking and has a slightly punky/goth taste in clothes, she's 11. wink And (having recovered from a moment of doubt when seeing our dog get her temperature taken) has decided she wants to be a Vet.

makemineabacardi Thu 02-Jan-14 15:20:58

Oh dear, the pink phase does bother me a bit I admit. There may be a lot of gritting of teeth in years to come then! Your DD sounds awesome Mother smile

My sister's partner lets her paint his toenails occasionally so I'll point my DD in his direction if she starts saying nail varnish is only for girls grin

MothershipG Thu 02-Jan-14 15:45:13

Do you know what make? I was exactly like you, not at all fond of pink and girly, really thought I'd struggle with it, but you just go with the flow and when it's your own DD it is, of course adorable! grin But although I was happy to let her wear pink if that's what she wanted there was no way I'd have painted her room pink or promoted it.

I think it's more important to concentrate on the feminist stuff, not let anyone suggest that girls are nurses and boys doctors, or tell her that she can't be a firefighter or train driver or climb a tree, etc.

Embrace the pink and power to the sisterhood! wink

grimbletart Thu 02-Jan-14 16:01:07

If you have any childhood photos you could show her that you were wearing all sorts of colours.

As she gets older you can explain that in Victorian times blue was girls and pink for boys, so it's just a silly fashion thing that will (please God) disappear as suddenly as it came - I wish.

It was certainly not this bad when my girls were young in the 70s and 80s. It's a relatively new phenomenon.

Are there any social scientists out there looking for a PhD thesis? Be great to see what the drivers of this drivel were. Is it simply a case of marketing (you will sell more by dividing the genders and labelling them) or is it an attempt to put us 'girlies' back in our fluffy boxes as we are clearly getting to uppity and successful, which is not at all ladylike is it? Or is it none of this or a mixture of things?

Datewise it seems to have been born around the time of the celeb mags and their obsession with celeb bodies, cellulite, having no visible sign you have given birth 10 days later etc. Seems all about women are how they look and not what they do.

Is there a general connection in this trivialisation of women and girls or am I over thinking it?

ErrolTheDragon Thu 02-Jan-14 16:11:54

I think it may also be correlated with a period of more excess income/credit cards facilitating buying (a) more impractical stuff and (b) more unnecessarily gendered items, rather than bikes and trousers being suitable for handing down regardless.

I did have pink and purple dresses when I was a child in the 60s but also happily wore big brother's hand-me-downs - but in total had far less of everything than todays kids tend to.

makemineabacardi Thu 02-Jan-14 16:20:41

Photos of me in the 80's would show me wearing my two (male) cousins clothes, I was seldom seen in frilly pink grin.

You're right about needing to concentrate on things like careers Mother - I also draw the line at a pink room! And frilly tutus that make girls look like Lolita. They'd better not darken my doorstep.

MothershipG Thu 02-Jan-14 16:26:24

Ah, but DD wears her (admittedly) black frilly short skirt with her knee high studded Converse (that she bought with her own money because I would pay for something so impractical!)

You can subvert most things. smile

NearTheWindmill Thu 02-Jan-14 16:31:11

Does it really matter. I love pink; it's my favourite colour. DD likes it to but didn't really care when she was small (she's 15 now). DS had a shocking pink handle thingy and pink bits on his rugby boots last year because it was very trendy!

I love pink, I wear pink, when I was single I had a pink house - pink curtains, carpets and even a pink kitchen. It was my house, bought and furnished and redesigned with my money which I earned because I was and am entirely financially independent.

A colour doesnt' make a person and if your daughter likes pink and pretty things (I do) why shouldn't she have them if she likes them and wants them. Why shouldn't any girl or woman be free to make her own choices about what she wants and what she likes. I loved putting bright pink tints into the bottom of dd's hair last summer holiday - she loved it too.

Helps that we are both summers in the house of colour and pink happens to be one of the most flattering colours for us grin.

But a the end of the day nobody, male or female, is going to dictate what colours I like, what I wear or how I furnish because it's supposedly infradig to be anti pink because that's what all the independent thinking feminists think hmm

ilovesmurfs Thu 02-Jan-14 16:32:58

i am.just getting this with dd who is just three.

she loves dinosaurs and cars and dolls and drawing. she has four big brothers.

ds4 went through a phase of saying pink was for girls. dp and my other three boys made a point of correcting him (they are 9,11 and 14) ds4 is 5. things like using some flowery pink plastic plates we have or the pink cup, ds3 has always loved pink, purple, fairies etc and ds2 has a stripey t shirt that has pink in it.

we say colours are for everyone, ditto toys etc. they see dp cook and clean and he has always been very hands on with the kids.

i apent yesterday building tens out of tarpauling and trees and string etc and i will do diy stuff.

basically we will talk about stuff, as you are doing and show them with how we live our lives that the pink/blue divide is bollocks.

it will be interesting to see how influenced dd will be, i have made a point with the boys to make sure they have dolls and toy cooker and do stuff that would be considered 'girly'. i let them dress up in fairy outfits etc.

they are four very diff children.

one techy and 'geeky' i guess.

one likes football and is very physical and into science and maths

PipkinsPal Thu 02-Jan-14 16:35:16

My 3 year old niece asked me why I had a blue car as I am a girl. I said I like the colour blue and it's ok to like any colour you want. Also I pointed out to her that there aren't many pink cars around anyway. She was happy with my explanation but still prefers pink.

ilovesmurfs Thu 02-Jan-14 16:36:13

posted too soon.

one loves pinks and sparkles and fairies and bike riding and if you were to label him is more 'feminine' in his likes and personalitu.

no 4 is crazy about superheroes and drawing and crafts.

dd is very into dinosaurs ans her scooter and running around etc but also likes sparkles and dolls.

i am not a pink person and admit i will find it hard if dd goes totally mad for pink.

its interesting.aa

ilikemysleep Thu 02-Jan-14 16:45:51

My DD has 3 elder brothers. All of whom had baby dolls, a dolls house, pink plates, a toy kitchen, etc when they were that age, but who also liked dinosaurs, spiderman, and so on. My DD is 3 now and has exaggerated the difference between her and her brothers I suppose, she has gone very 'girly' and is in to Disney Princesses of all things, and loves dressing up as a fairy or princess. Frankly, I let her. She has access to all of thetoys - train sets, cars etc but prefers to play with the dolls and pram. I don't force her to, neither do I force her not to. She got some Disney Princess dolls for Xmas because my sons, who loved Thomas the Tank Engine, would have got those toys for Xmas at the same age and why should I dictate that their choices are 'ok' but hers are not? I am certain it is a phase, and its making her happy right now, so I am going with it.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 02-Jan-14 16:50:03

NearTheWindmill: There is nothing wrong with pink. Its a colour.

There's a lot wrong with 'pink is for girls, blue is for boys' especially if the 'girls' version is not functionally equivalent to the 'boys version. Hence the complaints about Clarkes shoes where many of the 'girls' ones are far less practical than the 'boys' - but no problem with the pink/purple options from the outdoorsy shops because they're just the same thing in alternative colours.

There's a lot wrong if children see certain toys or activities as being for boys or girls, and some of that is driven by the 'colour coding'.

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