Blue is for boys and pink is for girls.
When exactly did the educated world start accepting this kind of stereotype? Or was pink always designated as a feminine color, and blue a masculine color? Why does an average kids’ toy section showcases just frilly dolls for the girls and cars & robots for boys? Whatever the case, I had decided during my pregnancy that I won’t follow the stereotype. But the retailers forced me to.
Boy’s section was almost always stocked well in clothing, shoes that were blue or its shades. I yearned for tiny clothes in yellows, oranges, greens, reds, whites, maroons, browns etc but all I got was blue blue and more blue. The bedsheet was blue, the mattress was blue, towels, etc etc. In fact, if you search for newborn sets, you will almost always be presented with a pink set and a blue set. I have nothing against an occasional blue tee or a pant or bed sheet but if parents start pausing before buying a blue colored towel or mattress or pram for their girl, then we have got this thing all wrong.
I searched this topic over Google and read a few theories and discovered that in early-mid 1800s, infants were dressed in white and gender differences weren’t highlighted until well after the kids were able to walk. Both boys and girls wore dresses or short skirts until age five or six. Now that is a fashion trend I would love to see back in our lives and stores. Why are we so eager to differentiate our babies as girls and boys. They are babies for heaven’s sake and cuteness needs no color-based stereotyping.
Even the toy section made me baulk. Retailers were telling me that I had to think twice before picking up a cute doll for my son? Or it was unacceptable to gift a hotwheels’ set to a little girl? Who defined these rules? Definitely not a parent, I suppose.
We are often told that “boys and girls like different toys.” That’s bullshit. I found my little boy will play with anything (doll or car) when it is presented to them as an exciting new thing. Parent’s involvement is critical, I found. There’s no need to prove anything to anyone, I feel, about my son’s gender and his ability to play with a doll or a robot. Limiting children’s access to play with toys because of their gender is just so damaging.
My humble request to all kid apparel, toy manufacturer’s is just this let our children feel free to play with the toys & clothes they choose, instead of being told, “that’s for girls” or “that’s a boys.”
PS: In Michael Kimmel’s outstanding Manhood in America: A Cultural History, he points out that clothing wasn’t colour-coded in America until the early twentieth century, before which little boys and girls were dressed pretty much identically.