The Problem With Pink

by Jeni Anderson

It has come to my attention that I am raising a serious girly girl, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Much to my chagrin, my three year-old is obsessed with pink. And purple and red and princesses and bows and flowers. Oh and did I mention pink? The kid would wear all pink, head to toe, every day if her wardrobe would allow it.

Enjoying a pink princess drink at a princess show. Because pink.

Enjoying a pink princess drink at a princess show. Because pink.

I’ll admit, this is a shock to me, and of course my family thinks it is absolutely hilarious. During my first pregnancy, I tried to convince myself we would not be inundated with pink. I asked my family and friends to refrain from buying pink. I got giant bows as gifts that promptly went to Goodwill. I selectively put the neutral onesies at the top of the pile.

And when Evie was a baby, back when I had some semblance of control, pink only made the occasional appearance in her wardrobe. Yes, of course there was some, but there was also a lot of grey and green and blue, and I’m sure there were many times when people thought she was a boy.

But now, well now my dear Evelyn is solidly her own person, and there is nary a blue onesie in sight. Yes, I am still in control of her wardrobe in the sense that I actually purchase her clothes, but when girl asks to wear her pink pants every. single. day. Well, you buy more pink pants. Because laundry.

My concern with pink isn’t that I don’t like the color. In fact, I know pink looks damn good when paired with my fair complexion. My concern with pink, and princesses and other gender stereotypes, is that my daughters will feel boxed into a mold that they may not necessarily fit into. As a marketer myself, I know there are calculated moves behind every single item that is targeted toward young girls. And while marketing toward kids isn’t what I do on a daily basis, I know all too well how powerful these messages can be. Whether I like it or not, I can’t shelter my girls from the onslaught of messages telling them how to look, how to act, what they should like and what they should say.

How do you protect your kids from the world? That’s the million dollar question, and if anybody has the answer please let me know. In the meantime, here’s my plan:

Let my kids be themselves, and know that this too shall pass. Someone told me recently that the princess phase is just that, a phase, and ultimately it will go away. If I know anything about my kids, it’s that if I fight something too hard, they will go the opposite way. So while it isn’t necessarily my first choice, I will let Evie dress in head to toe pink and play princess or her favorite, “wedding girl” if she wants to. Because it isn't my choice, it’s hers. She’s not a doll to be shaped in the mold I’ve dreamed for her, she’s a person, with her own thoughts and feelings, and she should be able to make her own decisions, as long as they are safe.

I’m going to let her be herself, but I’m also going to do my best to teach her what I know, educate her on how the media perpetuates unattainable images of women, and tell her that she can be whatever she wants to be and look however she wants to look.  I know I can't control her, but I can certainly do my best to impart whatever wisdom I have on the subject, and find comfort in the hope that she will grow to be a strong, confident woman who knows her place in the world. In any color of pants she wants. 

That's all a parent can hope for.