Accidentally supporting pinkification
I have a bit of a problem with pink toys. When I walk through a toy shop, I cringe to see the gender neutral or boy’s versions of toys in lovely strong primary colours juxtaposed with the “girl’s versions” of the toys in various shades of pink.
I always try to avoid buying pink for my nieces, going for the primary colours version instead – where possible! And it’s not out of a desire to keep Little Man away from “girly” toys – after all we crossed that bridge the day we bought Bobby. I just can’t stand all that pink, pink, pink.
Then last week, we went to the Early Learning Centre to buy a Sand and Water table for Little Man. We’d been looking at them for ages, and they were on sale that day so we decided to pick one up for him. There were stacks of “pinkified” Sand and Water tables around the shop, but only two left in the primary colours. They were in a shopping trolley beside the pile of pink tables, together with some other store products. I just assumed that they belonged to the store, that they were using the trolley to bring stock out from the storeroom. So I picked up one of the tables, and we paid for it.
About ten minutes later we were still in the shop – Little Man was playing with some trains that he found on a shelf – when a woman approached us and asked if we had taken the table out of her trolley. I was so embarrassed! It had never entered my head that someone would be buying two Sand and Water tables, but she explained that she had twins and she needed one for each of them.
We checked with the shop assistant, and she said that the only remaining Sand and Water tables were pink. Groan. I didn’t want to refuse to take a pink one simply because I wanted a boy’s one. So we ended up leaving the store with our Pinkified Sand and Water table. I was so disappointed. The brightly coloured one just looked so much nicer to me.
But did it matter? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that. Do you think Little Man shares his mother’s aversion to all things pink?
So why does it make me so uncomfortable? I realise that this is completely my issue, as clearly he couldn’t care less about the colour! A little part of me (a crazy part???) just feels that this version of the toy is somehow inferior…because it’s pink. I think it’s because I feel the colour is being forced upon little girls these days. And I’m not alone in feeling this way. Check out the Pink Stinks campaign, which is raising awareness of the damage that the “culture of pink” can do to little girl’s self esteem. I agree with them – I think it is harmful to any child to be stereotyped and limited to such a degree from a very young age. And I think that’s why, no matter how much Little Man seems to be enjoying it, there’s a part of me that is still uneasy and unhappy about our pink purchase, because it’s another pink sale, supporting the pinkification of toys.