When I had my son four years ago I didn’t think much about colour. One day he was dressed head to toe in blue, with a blue spaceship blanket and a blue soother. Someone in Walmart said to me, “Oh, what a beautiful baby girl!” That made me laugh.
My baby pictures include lots of yellow, green, red, white and blue, since I wore my brother’s hand-me-downs. My toy box was a colourful mess of gender-neutral Fisher Price toys, a blue dollhouse, six Cabbage Patch dolls and a huge assortment of multi-coloured Lego. Going into a toy store in the 80s was a colourful, wonderful mixture of toys that girls and boys could choose from. Two of my favourite “toys” were a real hammer and saw from my aunt Kate.
Walk into a Toys “R” Us today and the girls’ aisles are a sea of pink: dolls, kitchens and house-cleaning equipment. I adore watching Little A take care of her dolly and mimic me (and her Daddy) around the house. She is equally delighted with her brother’s castle and knights, farm set and rusty metal sandbox trucks. I’m sure she will go through a princess phase, but for now it’s fun to see her not care what she plays with.
Brother B loves to do “boy” things: race his (obnoxiously loud!) vehicles up and down our hardwood hallway and build Lego pirate ships. On the other hand, he treats his doggas like precious babies and is fascinated by the “girl” toys creeping into our house. Sometimes I listen to the way he talks to his sister and I am proud. He is gentle, empathetic and kind. Of course other times he hits, knocks her over and makes her cry, but that’s to be expected.
Looking at the website for WOW toys, little girls should play princesses and fairies, take care of horses and make cupcakes. They can be pilots, as long as they choose a pink airplane and wear pink clothes. The only non-pink, non-stereotypical girl set in the “Girls Toys” section is an ambulance. Anything else that is active or slightly risky is in the boys’ section.
Maybe I was a tomboy because I grew up on a farm and had strong female role models but I remember playing “restaurant”, “hospital”, “library” and “Lego city” imaginary games with my brother for hours. I also loved taking toys outside in the spring and making floods and disasters in the mud at the edge of the barley field. I remember other games that involved chasing my brother with a big stick but that’s a story for another day.
My children choose their own toys. I hope as they grow they can be who they want to be, the way they were created to be, even if society tells them otherwise.
What do you think about pink?
- Belinda Parmar: Pink Really Does Stink (huffingtonpost.com)
- Are LEGO Friends good for girls? Let’s talk about it. (coolmompicks.com)
- The Female Factor: Toys Start the Gender Equality Rift (nytimes.com)