From the beginning my husband and I had agreed that we did not want to dress Catrin in girly pink clothing all the time. But now I find myself separating the washing pile into dark colours, light colours and pink.
The truth is that she does like the colour pink…but I am not sure if that is because so many clothes commercially produced for girls her age are pink that we, inadvertently, ended up buying pink things for her through lack of options. She is also used to seeing her friends dressed in pink (maybe their parents also inadvertently allowed their choices to be ‘steered’).
I am not particularly girly and, although not offended by pink hues, I like to wear a range of other colours. Many adults do…we generally like our clothing to reflect our personalities.
So as I perused the kids’ shoes section in my local supermarket yesterday I wondered why society insists on dressing girls in girly pinky floral pastels and boys in primary reds and blues and bright greens regardless of their personalities. Is it to show other adults which gender your child is? Is it to help them to ‘fit in’ with other children who are dressed in a similar way? Why do we blindly follow such conventions and allow our choices to be influenced or dictated by retailers and images accessed through various forms of media? And when did Catrin’s and Bethan’s wardrobes become quite so pink?
Still pondering this, I continued to search for a new pair of shoes for Catrin. I didn’t like the pale pink floral trainers with the silver laces or the white pumps with pink flowers on them…so I had a look at the ‘boys’ shoes display. The bright red converse-style trainers caught my eye, so I put them in my trolley in a ‘feebly blowing a raspberry at convention’ sort of way.
As I queued to pay for the ‘boy’ shoes and my groceries, the lady operating the till saw Bethan happily chewing her own toes in the shopping trolley seat and said “aw he’s lovely…how old is he?” Bethan was wearing blue trousers at the time and, being a baby, she has short hair. She was also completely devoid of pink clothing. She is constantly being referred to by strangers as ‘he’. I can only presume that the absence of a pink dress and a huge bow on her head is the reason people consistently make the assumption that she is male.
Last year Catrin somehow got it into her head that the main difference between boys and girls is that girls have long hair and boys have short hair. She was very confused when we pointed out that Grandma is female and has short hair. Eventually she accepted our explanation that boys and girls can have their hair as long or short as they want and it won’t affect their gender. I hope she understands that concept also applies to the wearing of pink with flowers and butterflies or blue with dinosaurs and trains.
She loved her new red shoes.