The modern society has designated blue color for boys and pink for girls.Period.
Little did I realize before having children that these colors go beyond the dresses; They manifest themselves as body images, personalities, mannerisms and the entire outlook for the life.
I grapple with this color issue in everyday life while raising my boys. For one, I want them to be part of the society where they can go freely and select ‘pink’ if this is the hue they desire without the fear of, ‘What others will think?’, But we are not there yet.
I had overheard several examples when children teased the kid for selection of another gender color; this is mostly true for boys because-
'Girls can wear blue, but boys cannot wear pink.'
The above is the statement quoted by a salesman when I and my hubby were crib shopping for our first child.
That was years ago, but in a recent discussion with one of my mom friends, she mentioned that her son came home from school in a bad mood. He said,”Kids laughed at me for using pink scissors in the class!”
These children will build our future society based on the concepts they learned in their childhood. If they learn that it is alright to mock at their friends, then imagine the future that we have created.
Kudos to our society, that has succeeded in creation of immense stress where these kids cannot openly express for the gender prejudice that inhabits their little peers, which indeed is not a sign of a healthy society.
What has the world come to?
I would say the girls have more freedom than boys regarding colors, toys, and general entertainment. Boys do not have liberty to wear pink, play with dolls or even watch the TV series of their choice without being ridiculed.
As an adult, our mentality is superfluous than the children we raise. Adults can quickly discern a toy or TV series as a boy or girl specific; whereas children if left on their own, choose based on the functionality and the story that keeps them engaged.
We live in a world of double standards. Most woman would want a man who could watch a chick flick with her. But as parents, we do not encourage that idea for the little boys as we steer our kids to conform to the set masculine standards for this gender.
The fashion industry has evolved to include pink and purple for men. There are countless pink shirts, t-shirts, suits and tie for men in shades of pink.
But then why is there a pink taboo in the little people’s world?
Who are the Influencers?
As you enter the retail stores, there is segregation of the toys by gender. So, even if the little girl wants to play with dinosaurs or trucks, she might not have the courage to cross the gender boundary and go to other section with her parents for that toy. OR even worse, she might not be exposed to such a play at all for she would never visit those aisles.
The media-TV commercials, books further solidify the conventional beliefs of boys versus girls.
But the most important influencers are still the parents, as the children see and interact with them in these roles at home.
And, who benefits from this?
Retailers realized that the more they could gendersize their merchandise the better they can sell. So, we have not only clothes but the whole gamut of things related to the boy and the girl stuff- cribs, accessories, decor, toys, TV shows, movies and so on.
Our society’s progress is skewed– on the one hand; we are moving towards gender equality, equal pay, and job opportunities while on the other hand, we allow the consumerism to mold our children’s mind to the stereotypical concepts that would stay with them for the lifetime.
What can we do?
As a parent and an adult, it is our responsibility to educate children about the actual reasons behind the color segregation, which is consumerism. Gender separation of the colors, toys, books, clothing, entertainment is not an identity, but a mere means to earn more money by the retailers. If children themselves are aligned to specific interests then it is agreeable, but being forced by these outside factors is not acceptable.
Education at home itself would not suffice. The child can understand this concept but not have the dare devil courage to defy the color rule publicly in fear of being bullied. There has to be a mass awareness, at the level of schools and other public and media sources.
Similar to colors, that run deeper than the clothes, masculinity is not about wearing blue or playing with trucks and swords or even about watching Star Wars; and being Feminine is not about wearing pink, being submissive, to cook, sew or waiting to be rescued by a Prince. It is about taking charge of your life, and respecting and being kind to the people on the other side.
If I can teach this to my children, I have done my job as a parent.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Do you have any untold stories to share?