I hope you're sitting down for this. My son wears pink.
I know. It's shocking and upsetting and goes against the norms of society. It's going to change his sexuality, transform his personality, and mutate his very essence.
A bit extreme? Sure. But I've actually been told all of the above, if not in those exact words.
It seems like occasionally dressing my son in pink has the power to instantly turn some people into judgmental Dowagers, in a real-life version of Downton Abbey. But even the Dowager, herself, probably wouldn't have batted an eye at my son wearing pink because her own son most likely wore a gown as a baby. A gown. As in another word for a dress.
In fact, just a few generations ago the colors assigned to genders were reversed. Blue was seen as dainty and gentle, while pink was strong and manly. Yet somehow, in the 2000s, young, modern parents have been totally brainwashed by the fact that blue is for boys and pink is for girls.
At my baby shower three people told me I should be worried that the pink burp cloths I registered for would lead to gender confusion in my male baby. First of all, he's spitting up on the burp cloths, secondly, there is no way a color can alter a person's sexuality one way or the other.
What are the lessons we are teaching our kids with this mindless uniformity? If you are a girl you are an object of beauty and must aspire to be a princess, (something that actually only a few royal women and those married into royal families can be in real life). You must only dress as a handful of cartoon princesses at Halloween and the rest of the time your clothes must be an acceptable color, like pink or purple, and if they are frilly with flowers and hearts on them, you get bonus points for properly representing your gender. If you are a boy, you must aspire to be the most macho, masculine, manly-man alive. You can only express yourself via monsters, footballs, robots, dump trucks and toy weapons. If you have a sensitive side, quash it now. (Although I guarantee that when some of you grow up and marry those former child princesses, they're going to demand some sensitivity out of you.) And perhaps worst of all, if you stray from the norm, you will be ridiculed and judged, regardless of the fact that innovation, invention, and creativity all come from thinking outside the box and being a little different.
Our role as parents is to show our children the world and let them interpret it. Kids should be exposed to every color possible without some preconceived notions being attached to them. My son plays with his pink wooden stove every day. It's a blinding, bright pink and he loves it, and I bought it to take a stand and show the world that it doesn't matter what color toy a child plays with. Okay, in totally honesty, I really bought it because it was ten dollars cheaper than the red stove. But my son does have several pink shirts, sweaters, sleepsacks, pajamas, stuffed animals, bibs, and blankets too, much to the chagrin of modern society.
Toymakers and the infant clothing industry must love this century's rigid gender stereotypes. Parents clamor to buy new clothes and toys for their second kids, despite already having perfectly good options at home. God forbid their baby daughter uses a hand-me-down blue onesie from her brother, or their little boy plays with a pink cash register.
It has gotten so bad, someone had to actually invent GoldieBlox to let parents know their princesses had brains and might like using a skill set that didn't involve parading around in puffy pink dresses. When I was a little girl my female friends and I all built elaborate and imaginative structures out of Legos. They were blue (gasp!), red, yellow, and green and no one accused us of having any sort of gender confusion. But however absurd the situation is that has led to their creation, I am still happy GoldieBlox are around and that their ad went viral. Hopefully it will change a few minds this holiday season and remind parents that girls love to build and explore and invent as much as they like to comb a pretty toy pony's hair.
After all, in order to truly experience different things and build their personalities, every boy should be allowed to play with dolls and every girl should get to play with trucks. (Newsflash for all you parents intent on raising macho men who can only wear manly clothes with angry dinosaurs on them, your child probably played with dolls and so did you: G.I. Joe is just another name for a doll.)
So let's start the new year off right, as responsible parents who are open-minded, and let's change this backwards, prudish way of thinking. Put your boys in pink and your girls in blue. Take their picture and make it your new profile picture. Begin changing minds subtly and start a movement to create an accepting environment that fosters independent thinking, sparks creativity and leads to unique, sensitive, strong, intelligent children, whether they're boys or girls.
And go get your son a pink toy. Even if it isn't ten dollars cheaper than its "male" counterpart, I promise it will be worth it.
Supriya Kelkar works as a screenwriter for the acclaimed Indian production house, Vinod Chopra Films, and she blogs about green living and green parenting at wadingthroughsoup.blogspot.com.
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