Madeline is currently obsessed with princesses. She also loves ballerinas, and the shoes in her closet. When she sees me applying makeup, she begs to wear my lipstick, and she absolutely loves it when I occasionally paint her toenails. Most of all, she adores the color pink. In short, our daughter is what you'd call a "girly-girl."
I'm tempted to try to over analyze the reasons behind Madeline's ultra-feminine behavior. Did we somehow send our daughter the message that she must like dolls and the color pink, or was her brain programed to like these things regardless of what Santa leaves under the tree?
Yet, while the whole nature vs. nurture debate is interesting from a sociological standpoint, when it comes to my own family, I really don't care. Maybe some girls really are just born to be girly. Maybe I forced my own love of the color pink onto my daughter. At the end of the day, she is who she is, and as long as she's happy, so am I.
Besides, I think the color pink is making a comeback.
Since having a girl, I've become hyper aware that the color pink is considered a big no-no by a lot of mothers in my age bracket. I'm not sure exactly why. Perhaps it's because we were raised in a gender-neutral era ourselves shortly after the women's lib. era. Maybe it's the opposite, and we cringe at our Pepto-Bismol-hued baby pictures. Maybe the only thing we remember from all those gender studies courses we took in college is that pink = subservience.
Whatever the reason, I know that a lot of people go out of their way to avoid the color and all it implies. Nurseries are no longer traditionally pink...they are grey. Clothing is yellow or teal or red....which leads to a lot of uncomfortable situations at the supermarket when strangers try to guess the gender of your baby lest they resort to calling her "it."
I had a friend (who is the mother of a boy) wrinkle her nose at a pink outfit Madeline was wearing and express her distaste for feminine baby clothes. When toying with the idea of painting Madeline's nursery pink, I've had people literally cry out in protest.
Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with gray nurseries, or gender neutral toys. It's great. Do what you want. Most of our baby things were gender neutral to deal with the possibility of future babies. And I totally get why parents want to keep the Disney princesses away from their daughters...it's a marketing behemoth. BUT. I don't see why there's anything wrong with painting your daughter's nursery pink either.
Here's my problem with the anti-pink attitude. Just because something is stereotypically feminine does not automatically mean that it's bad. In fact, isn't suggesting that things that are traditionally feminine are somehow less than other forms of expression just as sexist? Girl things = bad. Boy things = good. Red Lego's = good. Pink Lego's = bad.
Take my nose-wrinkling friend. Her son wears blue a lot. He wears dinosaurs and airplanes and other stereotypically male things, and no one questions if she is doing her son a disservice. "Uh-oh! He's wearing blue! Watch out...he might turn into a macho, violent football player!" It's not gender-specific clothing she has a problem with...it's just gender-specific female clothing she has a problem with.
If we took Madeline aside and told her she had to wear pink dresses only, or if part of being a girl means that you have to be a shallow, mini-mouthed, princess then that would be bad. Telling my daughter she can be whatever she wants to be except anything too "girly" also seems a tad hypocritical.
As it is, I don't see why a person can't wear pink while kicking ass and taking names. Didn't we learn anything from Elle Woods?! (I kid....sorta.)
If your belief is that things that are pink, or overtly girly, are somehow symbols of weakness, subservience, and stupidity...then maybe a small part of the problem is the way you view women. Femininity...whether displayed in a male or female... is not weakness. The negative perception of femininity is the problem.
I don't worry about my daughter turning into a subservient air head just because she likes to wear pink boas and twirl around the living room in her Snow White costume. I give her more credit than that. Most of the women I know are well-educated, fair-minded, and financially independent in spite of playing with Barbie's pink Corvette.
Yet, I've noticed the tide against pink turning recently. More pink nurseries are popping up on Pinterest. I've read other blogs about similar feelings. There's an entire Disney Princess campaign aimed at the idea that being loving, kind, and nurturing are not signs of weakness...it's a sign of strength.
I guess what I'm not-so-eloquently trying to say is this: I'm not going to stress about gender-izing or degender-izing my child, and I don't think others should either. As long as you teach your children to be good human beings, to stick up for themselves, and to work hard for what they want...I think that the color of their nursery, outfit, or building blocks doesn't matter so much after all. That woman in high heels and a ruffled dress could be a really kick-ass business woman, doctor, teacher, or hair dresser. Either way, she's a worthwhile human being.
All I know, if it's okay for the, now former, Secretary of State to wear pink to work...it's probably okay to dress your baby in pink too.