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To think the 'pinkification' of girls is only going to do damage in the long run?

102 replies

katykuns · 24/05/2013 12:20

Very feminine, pretty clothes, in specific colours. Toys that encourage vanity, motherhood, no real aspirations... AIBU to think that if this doesn't stop, that we are actually going to go backwards? Obviously parental influence plays a strong part, and most women do not reinforce the idea of the 1950s housewife is something to aspire to, but surely these gender stereotypes are just unnecessary?

I also think the article should acknowledge boys that don't fall under the 'rough, mischievous, mud riddled' stereotype that I see in toys aimed at boys.

OP posts:

OKnotOK · 24/05/2013 12:23

Im not keen on pink and we didnt buy my DD much in the way of pink toys etc, but she has still ended up rellay liking it (and ballerinas and princesses!!).

I think its probably genetic!


Quodlibet · 24/05/2013 12:25

Yanbu. Read Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender. She makes a very clear case for why it is damaging to female aspiration and expectation, and why it is not 'genetic' or due to innate sex differences but due to social conditioning.


Elquota · 24/05/2013 12:28


There's no need for such a huge amount of pink, when there are so many other colours out there as well. I especially dislike shops where there are separate sections for boys and girls toys as if you're in the "wrong" section if you choose something else.

Some girls who "end up liking pink anyway" are perhaps influenced by friends or what they see outside the home. It's only in recent years that pink has been particularly considered a feminine colour.


manicinsomniac · 24/05/2013 12:30

I think YABU

Parents are more aware of gender sterotyping than they ever have been imo and I feel that there are fewer colours, toys and activities that are seen as 'only for girls/boys' than there ever have been.

Yes it's still incredibly obvious but if those of us who grew up when it was even more sharply defined are fine (as we mostly are I think!) then I don't see why our children won't also be fine.


CloudsAndTrees · 24/05/2013 12:32

I think a parent who hides toys that their child might enjoy is likely to be more harmful than a few pink things.

Lots of girls like pink stuff, they are often drawn to the types of things that the anti pinkification brigade want to avoid. To me, that is basically telling girlie girls that love all that stuff that they are somehow wrong.

It's the same as telling a boy who wants to play with a pram that he shouldn't, and equally damaging to self esteem.

I agree we shouldn't be sending the message that pink princessy stuff is the only thing that girls should like, but also, we shouldn't be sending the message that girls who do naturally adore pink princessy stuff are wrong, or weak or whatever else it is you are trying to avoid.


Biscuitsareme · 24/05/2013 12:33

Used to be really worried about this and still am to some extent. BUT my DD is now 7 and has in te course of about 2 months changed her appearance from pink/frilly/princessy/ballet to multi-coloured, preference for trousers, and interested in animals/ natural world/ space/ Roald Dahl books/ sports in general. Oh, and lego (and not the pink variety). Don't know what brought this one tbh.

We don't watch live tv so DH and I can keep an eye on what she watches when she's at home via DVDs & Iplayer.

I do think that nurturing should be encouraged in girls and boys, as it's such a crucial aspect of being human and being able to relate to others


Elquota · 24/05/2013 12:33

those of us who grew up when it was even more sharply defined

When was that?

I grew up in the 70s and there was far more variety in the colours and styles of girls clothes - they were usually practical and bright, not frilly and pink. Toys were just toys, there weren't separate sections in the shops for boys/girls.


romancewriter · 24/05/2013 12:37

I'm on the fence with this one. I think there should be less gender stereotyping, but pink is not the culprit.

In the Victorian era pink was actually a boys' colour, as it was considered a more child friendly version of red which was symbolic of bravery. Blue was a colour for girls because it represented the Virgin Mary.

I would class myself as a feminist, but as long as you don't 'only' buy your daughter stereotypical girl toys, and instill in them a sense of self-worth and equality I don't think a few pink toys will hold them back.


manicinsomniac · 24/05/2013 12:39

Late 80s and 90s for me and I remeber looking through pages and pages of the 'dolls' section of the catalogues at Christmas, all modelled by girls and almost all pink. I wanted toy kitchens, toy household chore products, dolls, dolls and more dolls, bright pink barbie stuff and sylvanian families. It was all marketed to girls. I don't remember ever looking at the 'boys' things (action men, vehicles and tool bench type toys). Toys were definitely not just toys.

My clothes were largely frilly. Not necessarily all pink but pastel, flowery and feminine.


Technotropic · 24/05/2013 12:46

The keyword here IMHO is 'balance'.

I have two girls and have never gone all out to buy one colour over another but lots of different stuff. We don't really care if we buy boys/girls toys but just stuff we think they will like. Interestingly enough they are not drawn to any extreme but pick and choose a diverse range of stuff. If there are 'messages' out there then they don't seem to be fazed by them.

The pink Lego thing came about as they found that girls were not interested so took a punt on it. Ironically my daughter has never been interested in it but has most of the regular stuff instead (fire/police/airport) which is gender neutral.


CloudsAndTrees · 24/05/2013 12:48

I grew up in the 80s and I was the only girl child in my by heavy family. I used to think the boys had far more toys to choose from than I did. The toys I liked the look of were boring. Things like keypers and sylvanian families were all very nice to look at, but they didn't do anything!

I'd have loved a more girle range of Lego. The way it was back then was worse, because all the things that girlie girls would be attracted to were boring, and if you played with other more interesting things, it was all aimed at boys.


DryCounty79 · 24/05/2013 12:48

I grew up with a pink bedroom, Sindy dolls (parents couldn't afford Barbie!), prams, pretty dresses with pink flowers on. I also had a couple of cars and a toy sweet shop, and loved playing on my Dad's Scalectrix.

I became a goth in my teenage years.

I am now a very independent, not-at-all-girly-but-still-fairly-feminine woman in my 30s, who has a decent job and no feeling of being a gender stereotype. I do hate the colour pink though :-D


DiscoDonkey · 24/05/2013 12:52

Why do we not worry that all the pirate themed toys and skulls on boys clothes will turn them into sea faring, pillaging bastards?

I think there is actually are far wider range of choice for girls than there is boys so pink is very to avoid or at least dilute down.


DiscoDonkey · 24/05/2013 12:54

Ooh keepers I had one of those!


Technotropic · 24/05/2013 12:54


I agree, one of the most manly sports i.e. the Giro d'Italia, has pink as the colour. Pink office shirts are incredibly popular still, as are polo/tee shirts, socks, pants, bikes. I mean, look at this baby, she's a beaut!


MiaowTheCat · 24/05/2013 12:55

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WorraLiberty · 24/05/2013 12:59

She needs to chill out

If she keeps that level of micro management up, her DD will probably become obsessed with pink and all things glittery.


TheCraicDealer · 24/05/2013 12:59

Agree with CloudsAndTress. I hate the underlying suggestion that liking pink is a bit shit, that it's weak and that pink-lovers are all destined for a life of domestic drudgery.

Having grown up in the 90's surrounded by so much pink plastic it constituted a fire hazard, I think I can honestly say it's had little to no effect on me as an adult. I loved my dolls house, toy kitchen, dollies, I want to settle down and become a housewife? No. I want a decent career and to share shitty chores with my DP.

Females are hardwired to nurture. It's not that odd that our girls are drawn to dolls, cots and kitchens. Especially when they're probably just copying their main carer of their own sex, often their mum. Consequently I think that role models are more likely to influence young children rather than what toys they play with.


ShadeofViolet · 24/05/2013 13:01

I havent gone out of my way to get DD pink stuff. She loves playing knights and castles at school, but she still loves pink and dresses.

I would never assume to tell a mother of a boy that she shouldnt encourage him to like blue, boy things, so why is it so acceptable the other way round?


jacks365 · 24/05/2013 13:03

I only have girls and remember when one was a baby being in a beautiful embroidered flowery dress but she was called a boy because it was blue. Their toys have always been predominately girls because thats what people bought but I've never subscribed to gender restrictions and encouraged them to do what ever they want. One is now one of only 3 girls on her engineering course at uni. I don't think its the toys so much as the attitude that goes with it, I would have bought more "boys" toys if they had wanted.


Llareggub · 24/05/2013 13:03

I have an awesome picture of me, aged 3 in around1979 dressed in dungarees, boots and a lumberjack coat and playing with Action Man.

Certainly where I grew up, economics played a huge part in the non-gender specific toys. Toys weren't mass produced in China and supermarkets were yet to sell cheap clothes. So clothes were hard wearing, passed between children and the same went for toys.

Of course there were dolls and prams, but I don't remember pink and blue sweeping brushes marketed at different genders.

Things are so cheap now, and companies try to sell as much as they can, so why not sell a pink sweeping brush to a girl in the hope the parents will buy a blue one for their son? I don't agree with this approach of course, but it explains the change I think.

If we all voted with our cash then things might change, but it is actually very different to buy stuff that isn't blue or pink.

I have two sons and both will happily play with dolls, prams as well as guns. I have tried to bring them up in a feminist way but the older one, now in year 1 has picked up all sorts of sexist views at school. Having said that, because my sons have always had female GPs, they think all doctors are girls. This might be as damaging for their career prospects as assuming all would be men.

There is also quite a bit of guilt involved too. No parent really wants their child to be ostracised at school, so if there is peer pressure to be pink it is hard to resist. I know my heart sank when I moved to my current city from a small village, where children wore generic t shirts and shorts to pre school football sessions. At our first football session in our new city, without exception the 5 year olds (and younger) were head to toe in the city replica kit. So I will probably buy the same for my boys, because I don't want them to suffer socially.


Thurlow · 24/05/2013 13:06

YANBU, but you're also BU. I honestly think people can think too much in to this. Some toys and clothes are ridiculously girlish or boyish and are designed to appeal to the stereotype of one gender; other toys are just toys. Bringing out a girl variant of a toy like the London bus is plainly ridiculous and OTT - but I think the same of the need to bring out blue pushchairs, as if boys have to have their own version.

I agree that there is actually a wider choice of clothing for girls than boys. I find it incredibly easy to not dress my DD in 'girly' clothes, I've never struggled to find leggings and tops in greens, blues, reds etc. But a brief look at the boys clothing section seems to show that everything is blue, brown or green, and covered in trucks and dinosaurs. We are probably far more aware of stereotyping of girls, both because we are woman and because of is increasing in publicity, but there is just as much stereotyping of boys.

Also, some kids just have a personal preference. My toddler mixes equally with girls and boys of her own age, is dressed in non 'girly' clothes, and has a complete mix of toys (cars, trains, dolls etc). With no encouragement towards anything, she is suddenly showing her own preference for playing with more traditionally feminine toys.


katykuns · 24/05/2013 13:08

I really dislike that children's toys aren't just advertised as children's toys... why segregate into gender? I know the reality is that it comes down to one obvious reason - people buy into it. So its clear, there are a selection of parents that DO like it.

Growing up in the 80s as a tomboy meant that I just had boys clothes and boys toys. It isolated me from my peers, but there wasn't much middle ground. Interestingly, the only toys I really played with were Sylvanians and Lego.. and they are probably somewhere 'in between'.

Disco, I do worry about it with regards to boys. I worry for the boys that would be happier playing gentler games, or are a bit of a 'bookworm'. It applies just as easily to them too. I don't think the toys we played with as children will ultimately mean we become the role we are playing, but I do think of a subconscious level, it restricts children in believing they could achieve anything they want out of life.

OP posts:

Quenelle · 24/05/2013 13:09

I don't understand why Lego chose to make a separate Friends range and market it to girls.

There is a campervan in the Friends range. DS loves campervans. But this toy is pink, so he would refuse to play with it, because he has learned from other children and ads on TV that pink toys are for girls.

So not only has Lego presented a really narrow choice for girls, it has alienated the boys.

I understand that some girls might be put off Lego because it's all monsters and space rockets but why be so one track mind about it? 'If we want girls to be interested in something we must make it pink.' WHY? How many flipping pink campervans do you see on the roads in real life?


Meddlinkids · 24/05/2013 13:10

Agreed YANBU.
All the women I knwo who bring their "lil princesses" up to be pinky are unfulfilled, non working , poorly educated and with low self esteem. I don't believe that's coincidence.

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