Pink for a Girl, Blue for a Boy?
Why is society so obsessed with separating genders by colour? Are we that terrified that someone in Tesco will identify our new baby as the wrong sex? And why do we care? Our babies certainly won’t give a crap.
I've often misidentified a baby, and felt horror as I was corrected; apologising profusely. Is it on-par with asking when an non-pregnant person is due? (Someone asked me 5 weeks after the birth of my first, when I was out feeling fabulous in jeans and a possibly too flowy top!)
At birth, babies appear the same: Hence why the midwife has to look at their genitalia to announce the sex in the delivery ward… she is not looking for eyebrows 'on fleek' or a strong jaw line.
When I was parading, I mean walking, my first son as a newborn; a stranger commented that I could put a pink dress on him and a bow in his hair and you’d still know he was a boy; I glowed inwardly at my obviously macho baby boy. I did, however, want more choice when dressing him; and was tired with blue babygros: I wanted red (so his colour), brown and black, but they were almost impossible to find.
Two brothers later and the colour blue makes me itch with boredom… I recently decorated the playroom pink to reclaim some femininity (I don't even like pink: I'm a natural redhead... it clashes.) See? This colour conspiracy has us all driven demented!
I work in a pharmacy with a large baby section, and have gotten used to the colour divide; but was recently shocked to see a new baby bottled water hit the shelves in blue and pink bottles… I have seen parents refuse to buy the water if it isn’t the right colour bottle for their kid. Baby bottle manufacturers have cottoned on to this, and begun producing pink and blue bottles also.
I had a confused mother approach me last week with a red Mickey Mouse bottle and ask: 'Is this for a boy or a girl?' I said 'It’s for either,' and she looked at me strangely and put it back; choosing a pink one. A few weeks ago a colleague was asked if we stocked a more 'masculine' coloured soother (she was holding a yellow one). What does she want… a soother dipped in steak juice and beer, with a barbed wire exterior to toughen him up? Maybe a special edition Ron Swanson soother...
A cousin of mine with a new baby boy had accidentally taken his older sister’s pink blanket to cover him in the pram on a walk and she said she felt obliged to tell anyone she met the blanket story and assert his boy-ness. But she confessed to giving blue soothers and boyish clothes to his sister without any feeling of being uncomfortable.
So are we all ingrained with a degree of homophobia? If we swathe our male babies in pink, are we somehow affecting their future sexuality? Shall we throw out the old nature vs nurture theory and hang everyone's sexuality on how they were dressed as kids?
In the 80s we were dressed androgynously. My sister and I had matching masculine haircuts and I refused to wear anything but jeans and tracksuits. I don't think I ever wore pink, as my Mam told me early on to steer clear of pink and red: 'They do nothing for you, Aisling.' Once, at an art class, the teacher asked if my younger sister Fiona was my brother ... Even though we both corrected her, she was not convinced Fiona was a girl. Are we damaged by our pink-free childhoods? Fiona is a little, but I'm not: We are both girly girls, and love makeup and clothes.
Read Next: Is There Too Much Gender Stereotyping for Kids?
If you saw childhood photos of us you may have thought we were headed for a life down the mines, or as P.E. teachers; but we found our own style grooves for better or worse. Look at the backlash Adele received when she had her son dressed as one of the Frozen girls (I have a house of boys… I’m not allowed watch Frozen… we watch Terminator and Die Hard). They looked like they were having so much fun and that kid will have a privileged life... what exactly is the problem? When we played as kids, the boys would all put their mother's half-slips on their heads pretending to be nuns or girls with silken (extremely flammable) long hair. The mammies only got annoyed for the breach of privacy in their underwear drawers.
Let the kids be… it is adult prejudices that harm kids, certainly not colours. Soon enough they will realise their differences and find their own way; and we will support them, even if the worst happens and they become P.E. teachers.
What are your thoughts? Are you concerned about the over-concern of gender, or do you like the clear categories shops provide? We'd love to hear.