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Pink Is Just a Color
bubbles
tiger_spot
My general policy, when buying baby clothes (and other baby stuff) is to get clothes I would be happy to put on either a girl or a boy. Babies are pretty gender-neutral, and I resent the attempts of society to keep them clearly labeled at all times. So I tend to buy pretty neutral things, when I can find them, and I also ignore most of the intended gendering on less-neutral things. For instance, dinosaurs are apparently supposed to be a boy thing. Nuts to that, says I. My little velociraptor can wear all the dinosaurs she wants. We have a lot of dinosaur and monster stuff, because it is super adorable.

My other policy is that if I have stuff, why not use it? We've been given some things that are girlier than I'd buy, and we've been handed down some things that are more boyish than I'd buy. I put her in both sets of things, and try to stuff down any weirdness I feel about it. My baby can explore the whole gender spectrum, darn it. (I have noticed that I feel pretty okay about any individual item of clothing, but if the outfit as a whole gets too far away from center it looks funny to me. I had her in a onesie and pants that both had feminine detailing the other day, and it didn't look quite right to me until we were heading out the door, when I added colorful socks and a jacket with a stegosaurus on it.)

She's just grown into the most girly stuff we have, so we've been bumping up against that end of the gender spectrum lately. The other day, when Andres and Cathy got home, she was wearing an all-pink outfit that is pretty much as girly as it is possible to be. (Well-constructed, though -- I actually quite like it, because it's soft and comfortable, sturdy and warm, easy to get on and off, and generally good functional baby clothes, which is not true of a lot of the girly stuff.) Cathy reacted with shock and horror, partly because of the not-gender-neutral and partly because the baby and I have the same skin tone and shouldn't wear pink because it makes us look yellow and blotchy. Andres reacted with even more shock and horror: "She can't wear that! She'll be walking soon!" What? "We'll want to take pictures! We can't take pictures in that!"

So that was interesting. I am amused that they're having more trouble with pink than I am. I mean really, you'd think of the three of us that would be most likely to bother me.

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It's so interesting to hear a parent's (well, three parents') take on this. Since I didn't become a parent until my kids were well past expressing preferences and close to choosing their own clothes in the stores, I didn't get to make those choices as a parent -- so mostly I find myself in the "auntie" role. Whether it's for my biological nieces and nephews or for friends, workmates, etc, I'm knitting things in colours that I like and hoping I don't push the other people's gender-conformity boundaries too far. Like when I recently gave some knitted socks with a lot of bright pink and mint green in the pattern to a 3yo boy, I made sure his parents knew that my 7yo nephew had chosen the yarn.

A former student told me she was pregnant the other day, so I asked "Do you care whether your baby wears all boy or all girl colours, or are unisex things okay?" rather than asking "will you find out the sex?" So I take that as permission to knit something with bright stripes, which is what I wanted to do anyway.

Edited at 2013-01-25 01:13 am (UTC)

Up with bright colors! Colors for everybody!

I'm not sure why it bothered me as much as it did! It was...unexpected. But very, very gendered.

I wanna see the outfit now!

That can be arranged. But apparently not in public! :)

Mum - who turned 80 last year - used to knit a LOT, and lots of what she knitted was baby clothes for friends and relatives.

This was back in the day when you didn't know which flavour the bump would be until it emerged, but even once it was known mum *always* knitted with colours like green and yellow. I never knew her to knit with pink or blue.


One of my very favorite pieces of clothing as a kid was a little forest-green sweater with white snowflakes my grandmother knitted for me. It had matching mittens. I think there may have been a hat too.

Edited at 2013-01-25 05:02 pm (UTC)

I had very similar feelings with Shanna and by the time I got to Calli I realized that mostly what I was doing was saying that overtly girly was bad. Because I wouldn't *actually* put a frilly pink dress on a boy. But my little girl can openly pick from the boys side.

At this point I'm shocked by how ultra-girly-pink both of my girls are.

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We have an ongoing argument at my house about which dinosaur names are girl-names and which dinosaur names are boy names. I maintain that Pterodactyl is like Beryl: a girl name.

It gets really different when they start picking out their own clothes. I'm not sure how it will be different, exactly, for us, but it will be.

If I had a boy, I would probably not put him in pink, but I would let him wear pink if he picked it out. It is definitely much more socially acceptable for girls to wear boys' clothes than the other way around.

The other day, KJ picked out to wear:

A bright green shirt with bows printed on it
A blue skirt with large white semi-abstract flower print
Purple pants with flowers on them

To this was added:
a grey-blue sweater knitted by her step-grandmother
a sky-blue shoe with a puppy face on it
a purple shoe with a cat face on it
a silk bandanna, green edge with a print center

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This is the lovely thing about the Internet -- I can order any color I want! Jewel tones are great on both of us. So is black, and grey.

This morning Andres wandered out into the living room and pointed out that the baby and I are both wearing purple shirts and black pants. I hadn't noticed that we matched.

I mean really, you'd think of the three of us that would be most likely to bother me.

I would? Hmm. I'm not sure I would, actually.

I sympathize with the unflatteringness of pink. I don't look yellow and blotchy in pink, but I look faded. I become part of the background in pink. I finally got my mom to stop buying me pink (she thinks I look good in it) by telling her that in pink I look like someone's daughter, someone's wife, or someone's girlfriend. And I would rather look like someone. For my mom, that was enough.

The skin tone thing can work the other way, too - my older niece looks really good in pink, which caused my sister some angst. In the end she decided that there are many fronts on which to fight the battle against overly rigid gender roles, and if the kid looks great in pink and is happy to wear pink, so be it.

She loves dinosaurs and dragons and monsters, too.

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I am having some odd reactions to this comment, because being the parent who gave birth and nurses is very important to me right now. I have always felt kind of maternal in my general approach to the world. I'm much happier with the mother and crone parts of the life cycle than the maiden part. Something something power something the relationship between feminization and infantilization something complicated. This maybe makes more sense in person where I can wave my hands.

ObGAS: take the pictures, and use your favorite editing software to reduce them to black and white.

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