The Problem with Pink

Slate writer Allison Benedikt recently wrote

What is it with you moms of girls? I have never met a single one of you who isn’t tortured about pink and princesses. It is a given that if you are a mildly feminist mother (or father, but more mother), you are going to do everything within your power to steer your daughters away from anything that has the stink of “girly” on it. I shudder to think how many pink ruffled onesies, gifts from less enlightened relatives and sexist friends, have gone unworn because America’s feminist mothers could not stand to dress their 3-week-olds in the color of oppression.

Yes, I’m one of the moms the author’s talking about. I steer my daughter away from pink, and I’ve asked my family members to consider a different color when buying her clothes or toys.  I have taken back onesies that say “princess” on them.  I am, according to this author, part of the problem.

But the suggestion is that I have a problem with women or femininity, and that’s not it. The problem I have is the suggestion that this is Zoe’s only choice for color in her life. And if consumers like me didn’t raise a ruckus, we’d never have options. Everything would be pink or blue if not for the hard work of iconoclasts like me.

Because, here’s the thing: Zoe wears pink things. Her Nana made her a beautiful, stunning pink quilt when she was born. I bought her pink gDiapers along with the sunshine yellow and light blue ones. She will undoubtedly get more pink stuff in her life and I will accept it because she looks cute in it and heaven forfend I stop my daughter from looking cute, taking a photo, and uploading it on Facebook.

What I don’t like is when I go into Target, and see an alarmingly pink aisle of everything pink starring pink with a side of pink…and nothing else.  It feels like Communism. In pink.

I also have this nagging suspicion that the deliberate “boys are blue/girls are pink” branding came from companies realizing that if they made things strongly feminine or masculine, they could sell the product again when a family has another baby of a different gender. I mean, uck! Who wants to put pink on a boy? (Answer: probably me.)

Fact is, I grew up with My Little Ponies and Cabbage Patch Kids, and some of them, yes, were pink…but not all of them. And that’s the difference: I had my choices. And that’s really all I’m asking for. My daughter should be able to pick blue, or yellow, or green…or pink.

But I want it to be a choice, not a default.

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