Can't we all like pink?

We were in a bike shop recently, getting a puncture repaired on the buggy. My three and a half year old son, a proud bike owner since Christmas was eyeing up the kids’ bikes display.

On one end there were blue and green and red bikes, with spiders and monsters on them. On the other, shiny pink bikes with glittering streamers and baskets, some even had seats for dolls and teddies.

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He took it all in, eyes running up and down the row of bikes. Then, he turned to me and said “It’s not fair Mama, why do only girls get sparkly things?”

He loves the sparkles, sure who doesn’t? I reassured him that sparkles are not just for girls, and he moved on to complaining that only the girl bikes had baskets and that boys needed to carry things too. All was well in the world until moments later when the man in the shop tried to dissuade him from saying he liked the pink bike and good humouredly teased him for preferring it.

There’s a lot of fuss being made about girls and pink, or branding toys “girls’ or boys'”. But it all tends to focus on the girls being left out or pigeonholed not the boys.

I’ve two sons who are old enough to tell me what’s on their minds (and a small daughter who isn’t quite there yet but is learning fast).

The boys “know” that pink is “for girls”, but my 3 year old happily still admits to loving pink. He requests the pink cup, the pink straw, the pink sticker. In cafés staff apologise for giving him pink anything, and he explains that he loves pink.

In the library at make and do time glitter is produced and if it isn’t he is straight to the librarian to question the omission. Pink glitter is his favourite. He’ll always choose the sparkly anything, it’s so much more interesting.

I love that he’s confident enough to do that now. But lately he’s starting to realise that people don’t think that he should like pink and this awareness means he’s starting to hesitate before asking for it. This saddens me, it’s only a colour, why should it be limited to one gender?

He still plays with all the “boy stuff” that he’s supposed to like, he wears only boys’ clothes, he decries anything with princesses as “too girlie” but he likes the colour pink. He also likes baking and watching Peppa Pig, Doc McStuffins and My Little Pony, but the only T-shirts he’ll find with them on are in the girls’ section, with frills and glitter and he won’t go that far.

He’s a little boy who happens to like pink, among other things. Isn’t that allowed?

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23 thoughts on “Can't we all like pink?

  1. My son was a huge pink fan too. But I noticed that has been socialised out of him over the course of montessori and the change from age 3 to age 4. Nowadays if you ask him his favourite colour he says “all the colours of the rainbow” to which people say “oh isn’t that lovely”, but it used to be “pink” and it never failed to amaze me how many grown adults went out of their way to correct him and explain that a boy couldn’t like pink when he’d give that answer. I guess despite my best efforts he eventually learned pink wasn’t the right answer for a little boy to give.

    1. That’s a good way of putting it Lisa, it’s been socialised out of him. I can see touches of that starting here, but then he rows back and sometimes chooses pink just to defy people! It’s crazy how many adults won’t just let the boys pick the pink one!

  2. This post is brilliant!!! I have an eight year old who asks me if boys are allowed wear pink or like pink… a BIG yes from me! When I make “slime” as a science experiment with children they get to choose their own colour and I love that boys will still choose pink! And nearly everyone wants to add glitter! You make such a good point about marginalising the sexes with toys but we all focus on the argument from the girls side, not the boys!

  3. I’m with you 100%. We had two daughters and then a son…so our boy grew up being extremely comfortable with “girl stuff.” He played dress-up with them every day, usually choosing one of the glittery ballet outfits. He got his toenails painted when his sisters did. He had a baby doll.

    Our neighborhood school is not exactly “enlightened.” So our son was something of an outcast among his classmates because he didn’t see the world in terms of “boy stuff” and “girl stuff.” Thankfully he’s got a VERY strong character, and none of the crap the other kids threw at him for being his own person bothered him in the least.

    On a similar note – I hate to admit it, but we used to visit McDonald’s pretty often when the kids were little. The perpetual question when we ordered happy meals was “do you want the boy toy or the girl toy?” I never gave up on insisting the employees tell us what the two toys were and deliberately offering both to all three of our kids.More often than not our girls took the “boy” toy because it was much more interesting.

    It’s an uphill battle, but it’s so worth fighting every step of the way.
    -Amy at http://www.momgoeson.wordpress.com

  4. Brill post!did you know that in the early 20th century that baby boys were dressed in pink and baby girls in blue?Blue was seen as a dainty colour and pink a stronger, more decisive one hence the assigned gender roles. Mad how they’re now reversed. It’s awful that your little fellah gets hassle from an adult about choosing pink. They’re just colours!!I

    1. Thanks Aedin. I’d heard that before now that you mention it, wonder who changed it? Must do some more research! I really can’t believe that adults do it, although a lot surprises me about the way strangers interact with kids.

  5. This really frustrates me. Out of nowhere my daughter started telling other girls that they weren’t allowed like green or that blue is a boys colour and that they must like pink. I always made a huge effort to have gender neutral toys and we never emphasised pink.somewhere along the line since starting montessori this pink very blue rule seeped in.

  6. Love this such a happy confident kid! Its so sad though that the world will make home feel that it’s not ok for boys to like pink 😦 you’re doing a great job though making it ok and normal. Like of course kids of any gender and age will love anything bright and fun like glitter and pink is a bright fun colour too so why not! x

  7. I’m pregnant (37 weeks) and I’ll have a boy, and this one is a question that sometimes we have… I have strong opinions about gender equality but I was always preparing answers for girls not for boys! thanks for this post

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