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“Pink is for Girls”

Pretty in pinkPink is a girls colour. Why do people think it shouldn’t be? Girls love to dress in pink, to play with pink toys, to have pink rooms filled with pink things – it’s just a fact that pink is for girls. They still have plenty of choices – just as long as it’s in pink.

While it’s unlikely that girls do indeed have a predilection for pink, the marketing-industrial complex is very clear: “Pink is for girls”, and they keep churning out their wares targeted at them.

It’s all too easy to have or buy our girls ‘plenty’ of pink things. The big problem is one of smallness – the focus of what these things are remains relatively narrow, and this is potentially limiting our girls imaginations, opportunities, and ambitions. It’s for us as parents, and our children themselves, to set any parameters – not those trying to sell us things.

I completely buy into this line of reasoning. I avidly support the aims of campaigns such as Pink Stinks and Let Toys Be Toys. I like to think I am very studious about not buying pink things for my daughter.  I am very clear with family & friends, ‘Please don’t buy her anything pink’ (she still gets pink pressies of course, and we are very grateful for peoples’ generosity!).

Anyway, I’m a total hypocrite, because when I see cool things for my daughter – that also happen to be pink – I’m powerless to resist:

Farrah Fawcett
To cool not to dress her in…
And again...
…and still going many months later.

And how can I complain about a pressie tee like this:

We love Spidey...
We love Spidey…
...so much it's exhausting.
…so much it’s exhausting.
Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl hat from Wellington
Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl hat from Wellington

And always on the lookout for apparel with cool & confident female role models, this hat ticked all the boxes – well, apart from the non-pink one. And it just went so well with that cardigan…

Tricky eh? So despite all my great intentions, far too often I still ended up dressing my daughter like this – not what I intended at all when the great parenting adventure began.

And she’s not even at pre-school yet. I’m guessing it’s only going to get much worse when peer pressure kicks in – currently her cultural icons include Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Princess Leia, Toy Story, and Totoro.  I fear it’ll be all Angelina Ballerina and Peppa Pig before too long. So I’m beginning to think I need another front of attack against pink. Or do I?

In my early teens, I happily wore my pink Pringle jumper, or a pink tee under a suit jacket (the Sonny Crockett look). It was the eighties, and that was the style (as much as a teenage geek knows about style). But as the nineties dawned, I felt like a fool for wearing a ‘girls’ colour, and I swore an oath – I really did – to never wear pink again.  And I haven’t.

As the years marched on, I pitied those fools who came into work with a pink shirt, or the people with grown up jobs wearing pink ties. I wouldn’t even wear shirts that were red and white patterned – because from a distance, they looked pink.

Pink was a girls colour, and I didn’t want to wear a girls colour.

Except pink ISN’T a girls colour. That underlines this whole issue. It’s just a colour like any other, and perhaps I need to embrace that rather than always fight it.

I think it’s time for me to break my oath, or make a new one: I need to wear pink.

In fact, I would like all men need to wear pink, and it would be great if parents could dress our sons in pink too. If the all-powerful marketing-industrial complex is going to continue to tell our girls that pink things are the only things for them, we need to subvert that. One way is encouraging our boys – and men – to play and dress pink too.

So I at least need to add pink to my wardrobe. Because pink isn’t a girls’ colour. It’s just a colour like any other. I reckon it might even suit me. Like it does my daughter.

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19 thoughts on ““Pink is for Girls””

  1. Pingback: “Pink is for girls”
  2. Yes, well said, loved reading this!
    As a father to a 6 month old daughter, I fight tooth and nail to use other colors besides just pink. Yes, she has plenty of pink things, but I make sure she is surrounded by blue (my favorite), green, yellow, etc too!
    As a matter of fact, I’ve been eye-balling several Ninja Turtle shirts to buy for her but I’m not sure my wife would agree. Maybe I’ll just “happen” to have it at home one day….hmmm

    Thanks for the good read!

  3. Thanks fella. Despite the pictoral evidence above, I a do generally dress my daughter in non-pink, and she has a fine collection of superhero tees & tops – better than I did in childhood. In fact I often get mums complementing me on how I dress her. Must be geek chic. I’d say just go the the Ninja Turtles – your wife may think she looks cool too!

  4. I’m with you on the pink front! Both I and my wife try to make an effort to present other colours to our daughters for clothes and toys etc…but the ‘problem’ is…our little princesses just seem to prefer pink!
    I suppose the question is…is this a natural preference (in which case that’s fine), or is it conditioning from all the pink crap they’ve been given as presents from other people (or other forms of marketing)?

    1. Thanks for your comment… I’m wary of being a guy talking about what might be inherently female (well, I guess wombs are), but the fact is that pink is being used to market a narrow range of products. The danger is that unless something is in pink, then our girls will think it’s not for them, eg. A play tool set, a science set, Lego! I’m serious that I think men – esp. dad’s of daughters – should be wearing pink. That’ll at least show our daughters that pink doesn’t have to = female.

    2. So the thing is, since colors are for everyone, the odds are that there are going to be *some* girls who just like pink. *I* like pink. You may have a girl (or 2) who just happen to like pink… but it’s really hard to know because girls don’t get offered pink as a choice, they get bludgeoned with it.

      The very tricky task is to make sure pink is offered as an equal option, neither pushed or forbidden. I tend to avoid buying my daughter pink whenever possible because I find that I still end up with a fair proportion of pink in her world. Other people will push pink and some things will only be offered in pink so if I consciously choose “not pink” whenever possible, it balances out.

  5. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to make pink a colour–not a statement about gender. My husband and I have also discussed adding some pink to his wardrobe as a way to show our daughter it’s just another option. I truly hope more parents will stop making pink polarizing and will dress their sons in pink. It just seems so weird to me that out of a whole spectrum of colours we have somehow singled out this one shade as being only for girls…it makes no sense. Thanks for the article!

  6. I would wear pink but as I am already bright pink I would worry that from a distance people would think I was naked. However I will keep an eye out for something that joins me to this cause. We are definitely not going down the pink is for girls route. At least wherever possible. The corporate machine really does want the girls in pink.

  7. Reblogged this on thevintageteenager and commented:
    My friend male has vowed to “add pink” to his wardrobe. Check out his blog post about how this colour is just a colour – “like any other” not just for girls! This vow to wear more pink is a great comfort zone challenge for him and I can’t wait to see what he buys…..

  8. It’s not so much the colour pink that annoys me, but the expectation that girls only want to play with certain toys. Interestingly, we visited LegoLand Windsor last year and we bought a a pink shield and sword at our daughter’s request (grey was also available, no doubt intended for the boys’ market). It’s defo one of her favourite toys and is regularly used for dealing with dragons.

    You might also like to know that I have reclaimed pink for myself. I have a pink (rose if you must) shirt and I am more than happy to wear it. I don’t thin it’s feminine at all, in fact I think you have to be very confident to wear such a colour!

  9. Love it! I just wrote a blog post about this, too. My daughter is 6 months old but since the day I found out I was having a girl, the pink junk started rolling in. As a girl who has always despised pink, this irritated me to no end! It still does. Since people are just trying to be nice, it’s hard to say “please don’t buy my kid pink!” but I’ve made it clear that I’m over that color defining my little girl. Fun to see other posts about this!

  10. I avoided pink when my daughter was a baby. She went through a stage of liking pink, mainly because all the other girls did. Now hates it, has done from about 7 years old, I think because she got pinked to death.

  11. Did you know that pink used to be considered a masculine colour in the 19th century and the early 20th century? See this from 1918: “There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

    But then people didn’t start marking their kids gender so clearly from birth in ye-olde-days either. One of the reasons I love He-Man and She-Ra as role models is that he’s a pink wearing peace lover (in his Prince Adam incarnation) and she’s a fierce red-wearing leader (in her Princess Adora incarnation). It’s the ultimate subversive cartoon!

    If it’s any consolation my daughter went through the pink phase and at 6 is now out the other side. She wears some pink, likes pretty dresses and has long blonde hair. She also likes and plays with dinosaurs and (non-pink) lego and bricks, knows more about Marvel superheroes and Star Wars than most of her male friends (due to using the Marvel encyclopdia as bedtime reading).

    So long as you provide the options and the opportunity she’ll have no limits. Having said that, a mum who was round for a playdate expressed shock at seeing dinosaur toys in the house and asked if they were for my daughter’s male cousins. *sigh*. Lucky she didn’t clock the viking/pirate play mobil…

  12. Saw this link on twitter. Always looking to hook up with others keen to rebalance the colour/toy campaigns for (against) girls. I’ve 3 daughters and ensure a gender balance across all platforms. We don’t hate pink – princesses can be pink and powerful at the same time!! Have you read ‘The Paperbag Princess’ book? Would love to hear back from you. K

  13. Pingback: Dad Lets Three Year Old Daughter Dress Herself.The Results ... - shopBlogs

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