She has been given pink things during her life, including a pink tutu from Grandma, and she has pink backpacks, pink shoes, etc., so it's not that she's never been exposed to the pinkified girls' toys, but she prefers blue and has become very defiant when the issue of pink arises. Last week we visited a kids zone in Olathe, Kansas called Zonkers and when we entered the pinkified women's bathroom, she had a mini-meltdown about how much she dislikes the color pink. I happened to catch the meltdown on video. Here is one video that describes how she doesn't like the color pink:
I'm sure most of you have seen the video, Riley on Marketing, which shows a girl toddler describing the princess/superhero marketing fail in toy stores. In the video, she tells us that there are plenty of girls who like superheros and plenty of boys who like princesses. She asks a very poignant question: why do all girls have to like princesses? Riley's message is a very insightful commentary about how bad it has gotten in the girls' toy aisle, where you can't find a single tool, functioning camera, Hexbug, science or technology kit. And equally depressing is the absence of anything cute or cuddly in the boys' aisle. How did this all happen? Why are we allowing it to continue? The history of gender-specific colors is fascinating. It wasn't until the 1940's that the marketers got together and decided that pink was for girls and blue was for boys. They had evidence that they could sell more if the clothing became sex segregated. With the 1960's and 1970's there were more gender neutral colored clothing for children due to the questioning of society, norms and everything else, but when the 1980's hit, the "Pink Plague" was in full swing. If you're interested in the history of gender-specific colors, here it is.
I often wonder if my daughter is subconsciously absorbing my own thoughts about what I term, the "Pink Plague". Just like this British mother, I have tried my best to shield my daughter from the overzealous pinkification of girls' merchandise by parasitic marketers and I try to let her be her own person as much as possible. I have chosen an open approach that I think is fair for a growing mind. But it's quite possible that my subtle influence has played a role in her deep dislike of the color pink. I actually don't care for the color much, but it's just a color, part of nature, so how can I have such strong reactions against it? It's not the color itself that I dislike, it's how the color has been used to brainwash little girls into identifying only with vapid princesses. I resent the pathological push on the part of marketers to create a homogenized version of girls that doesn't promote interests such as science, information technology, engineering, investigation, nature and entrepreneurship.
Why do I feel so strongly about this topic? As a teenager, I was a high fashion model.
Luckily, there is one woman who has created an engineering toy called Goldie Blox to fill the void in the girls' aisles. The toy features Goldie, "the girl inventor who loves to build." It was created to inspire future female engineers. Debbie Sterling is the creator of the engineering toy and she is revolutionizing the toy industry for girls, in my opinion. It appears that more women are going to have to step up and create toys that smash the gender bias before any real progress in mainstream society is made. The other option is to move to an ecovillage like Dancing Rabbit where I've witnessed 8 year-old boys openly expressing their preference for bright pink bikes. No one bats an eye when confronted with boys who like pink because the ecovillage people realize that liking a color is just that: liking a color.