Third on my list of Things I Feel Judged for on Twitter is the power of pink. In case you haven’t noticed I am blogging it a bit more. I didn’t originally plan that when I wrote my list but it’s a discipline I have wanted to build into my writing days, because I find I like non-fiction more and more, so here I am. Some of these posts are more difficult for me to articulate than others (there’s a doozy waiting down the list) and I am nervous about writing things like this and putting them out in the world but like Tavi says on feminism in this fantastic TED talk, we’re all just figuring it out.
As mother to a little girl who just turned five there is no shortage of pink in our house. I remember the day she announced that her favourite colour was pink. I wasn’t overjoyed at this predictable choice from my unique star and I blamed peer pressure and her recent introduction to nursery, I tried to play it down and steer her elsewhere. But very quickly I realised my anti-pink sentiment was unfair and ill-considered. Pink is a beautiful colour, the colour of the sky, the colour of a blush, the colour of my favourite restaurant in Mexico.
As well as pink my daughter likes climbing, mud and playing doctor. She prefers Andy’s Wild Adventures to Angelina Ballerina, but if what she wanted to do was stick hot pink flower petals on pale pink tissue paper all day with her Barbie pals listening to Disney classics, then I don’t see myself telling her there is anything wrong, and lesser somehow, shameful almost, about her preferences. Just as if she decides to be a stay at home mother or a manicurist then I would try my best to support that and contain my anguish that my dreams for her to be a marine biologist slash tennis pro didn’t work out.
Ascribing the idea that pink stinks and that more traditionally masculine toys, colours or professions are where truly ambitious females should be directing their sights seems to me far more damaging to a little girl’s self-esteem than introducing her to a wide range of colourful experience and encouraging an interest where an interest is shown. By constantly knocking or rejecting pink I realised that I was teaching my daughter she was wrong, and that her tribe was wrong, and that Angelina Ballerina was not good enough. Not a very empowering message. It reminds me of the school of thought for children around sweets, or alcohol for that matter, that restricting access only increases the desire. As I have drastically dialled down the anti-pink voice she has become far less attached to the colour.
Here’s correspondence from a little girl with a practical gender issue with the toymakers, taking on Guess Who? for discrimination, I applaud this girl, but remain ambivalent about drawing attention to lazy marketing shorthand on the surface of the issue. Women are strong and powerful, and claim pink as the symbol of that strength, a symbol we see in millions of pink ribbons for breast cancer care.
(I maintain this Pinterest page of pretty pink things because I like to remind myself I am a woman without using a handmirror)