“PINK CARDI!” my daughter yelled.
“Pink cardi is wet because we just washed it,” I said. “You can wear it tomorrow. Why don’t you wear the white cardi now?”
“WANT PINK CARDI!”
There were a few problems with this whole scenario:
1. This interaction was taking place at bedtime. Yes, my child insists on wearing a cardigan to bed. She wears one every day too. This cardigan fixation has been going on for over a month. She has only agreed to go cardi-less twice in that time – both days when it was over 32ºC (90ºF) out, and even she had to admit that it was too hot for knitwear.
This isn’t a thing, is it? I mean, I know toddlers are prone to unusual obsessions, but I couldn’t find any other examples of kids that were cardigan-obsessed in all of the Googlesphere.
2. She likes pink. A lot.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a little girl liking pink, is there? But part of me, the self-conscious liberal, feminist part, isn’t so sure.
Go to the girl’s section of any clothing or shoe store you’re hit with a sea of pink.
The same thing happens in toy stores. Sometimes you can buy two versions of a toy – a boy’s version in bold, primary colours, and a girl’s version in pinks and pastels.
I’m looking at you, Mega Bloks.
And we’re paying for choosing girlified toys – just making a toy pink can increase its price tag by anywhere from 2-15%.
There’s something about pink that denotes sterotypical girliness – dolls, princesses and bubblegum sweetness – and I’m not entirely comfortable with that. I want my daughter to be the rough-and-tumble, grass-stained-knees sort of kid, and the gooey pinkness of all things ‘girl’ seems at odds with that.
I bought her pink shoes. I’ve dressed her in pink clothes – often ones purchased by relatives, but some I’ve picked out myself too. She has a pink balance bike and a pink toy stroller. So am I part of the problem? Is it any wonder that she’s in danger of becoming a little pinkaholic?
I know she’s only two, and this week’s obsession with pink cardigans could easily become next week’s obsession with…I don’t know, yellow raincoats. Toddlers are weird. And I know that while she likes pink things, she also loves playing with trucks and robots and poking puddles with sticks. She uses her pink stroller to push around a giant Iron Man teddy bear. She’s no delicate flower – and I want to make sure she stays that way.
Pink itself isn’t the problem. It’s just a colour. Not one that I wear myself very often, since it only emphasizes my fire face, but I get why people like it. The problem is a culture where colour-coded toys and clothes teach children gender stereotypes from a young age. Pushchairs, doll houses, beauty products and domestic toys are often sold in pink, teaching kids that looking good and taking care of things is what’s expected of girls – and should be avoided by boys.
I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that one of the Popple’s current favourite books is “Feminist Baby“, which includes the following rhyme:
“Feminist baby likes pink and blue. Sometimes she’ll throw up on you.”
“I like pink and blue!” the Popple shouted during a recent reading. So there’s hope.
She also likes the page with the line, “Feminist baby says no to pants.” I’m kind of hoping that bit doesn’t catch on.