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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

sashh Sun 12-Jan-14 06:00:06

Only boring and silly people think that pink is for girls and blue is for boys.

People sometimes use colours because other people are too silly to tell the difference, but she is not silly she can tell boys and girls apart.


My carer wears nail varnish, usually black, sometimes with one red finger nail. Do you want me to send you a pic?

CouthyMow Sun 12-Jan-14 01:35:27

My DS3 says "pink in wainbow song. Blue in wainbow song. Wainbow song for evvywun" whenever someone says he can't like Sofia or Doc McStuffins or dollies because they are pink, or his best friend can't play with tools or Spider-man because they are blue...

(The clever words of my 2y11mo DS3!)

Creeping Sun 12-Jan-14 00:56:37

Very good point Auntie, despite (or thanks to) the wine!

That is exactly why my boys had a pink buggy to push around when they were toddlers.

All too often girls playing with cars is not regarded the same as boys playing with pink things, dolls, make-up, handbags or other things girly. ]

The message society gives to our girls and boys is clear: boy things are good enough for girls, but girl things not good enough for boys. I.e. girl things are worth less than boy things i.e. girls are worth less than boys.

It needs a concerted effort on the part of the parents to fight this, because the rest of society (adverts, (toy) shops, tv shows) unthinkingly show the stereotypes that our children have no difficulty picking up.

Auntierosemary Sun 12-Jan-14 00:24:32

And yes, I have just drank a bottle of wine.

Auntierosemary Sun 12-Jan-14 00:23:38

Isn't it funny how nobody ever worries about boys liking blue in the same way that they worry about girls liking pink? And yet at the same time, it's not often you see a boy dressed in girly colours, whereas many parents conscientiously dress their girls in unisex clothes.
To have a strong gender identity is not necessarily to be oppressed.
What's wrong with pink?

Creeping Sun 12-Jan-14 00:08:30

Don't worry Bacardi, it's a normal stage in development. Toddlers are trying to make sense of the world by categorising. So every man with grey hair becomes granddad, sometimes every man becomes dad, the child I was minding 2 days a week called me Mummy because I was the one changing her nappies and feeding her, and everything pink is for girls and everything blue is for boys.

By correcting them you teach them that the categories are a bit more refined than that and may even have different criteria than she picked up on. So keep just telling her that "colours are for everyone" (my standard phrase) as you are doing and she will grow out of it soon enough.

Rosencrantz Sat 11-Jan-14 18:11:41

In our house, pink is for Candyfloss and blue is for Man City, and no one ever has to choose between the two. You can have both!

capercaillie Sun 05-Jan-14 14:33:16

Where has she picked that up at 2 years old? Is it a phrase said at nursery? 2 seems very young to be aware of that but it can be reinforced by caregivers

I must be lucky so far. 4 year old DD has not had a noticeable pink phase and is dressed as a dinosaur today.

TheBunsOfPanettone Sun 05-Jan-14 14:26:08

ErrolTheDragon hehe grin

ErrolTheDragon Fri 03-Jan-14 21:45:35

Not wrong at all. Having said that, I do find it quite helpful that so many owners of lady dogs give them 'feminine' collars - saves having to look underneath to check what sort of social interaction is likely to happen with my boy dog! grin

TheBunsOfPanettone Fri 03-Jan-14 20:38:26

As I found out recently ideas about the sex-appropriateness of pink and blue extend beyond human children.

I volunteer with a cat sanctuary and earlier this week a gorgeous adult male was rehomed. His new staff owner came to collect him and at the same time, collect a litter tray. The pink litter tray, which had been made ready for collection, was rejected shock and one in a more "suitable" colour requested.

Was I wrong to howl with laughter?

ErrolTheDragon Thu 02-Jan-14 18:22:39

'but it being solely for girls is not.'

I can't think of any toys or activities which should be seen as girl-only or boy-only.

ilovesmurfs Thu 02-Jan-14 17:15:53

Yes exaclty errol pink is fine, but it being solely for girls is not.

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'.

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.

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

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 16:32:58

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

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

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

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.

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.

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?

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

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

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