Saturday, October 02, 2010

Pink stinks , or why not all little girls want to be princesses

Now I don't have kids and until recently didn't really know any . I was more likely to be found camping it up with gay men or sitting with a load of old Trots at a meeting . Over the last few years though, I have spent time with Dave's girls, Rachel and Hannah. They are 10 and 7 respectively.

This has meant delving into the world of little girls, whether that be toys, books or clothes. Now when I was a kid I got mucky outdoors, rode a bike, played with 'boys' toys and I can't ever remember wanting to be a princess or wear pink. As I wandered through Hamleys looking for pressies a while back, argh a hell only equaled by a trip to Ikea, I found my self confronted by what looked like quite clearly stereotypes boys and girls toys. Now of course there is nothing to stop a girl having any of the toys, and in fact Hannah is partial to bug related books and games, but the shop does not so gently demarcate specific gender toys . It is not the only store that does this. Go in most toy shops and you'll be surrounded by barbies and bratz, all pink and princessy or wag wannabes. Toys are pink packaged. This must be what its like in Katie Price's world, an explosion of candyfloss.
Many of the games are quite domestic, others aimed at quite young girls include make up, glitter and kits to make jewellery.Head to the boys and it is all much more manly, with science kits,trucks and sport.

Clothes shopping is no better , ranging from the cheap Primark to the more yummy mummy approved Gap . I have been looking around for some pyjamas for Rachel and they are all pink or if not very very cutesy . Rachel does not like pink ! Over the summer she needed some t-shirts. All she wanted was plain and not pink, with long sleeves. Bloody nightmare to find . Rows of pink, cute or princess t-shirts , or if not some bordering on a bit too Wag and grown up.

I popped into a shop selling rock t-shirts as she likes these and has a few. The assistant was helpful , but assumed the ten year old was a boy. I said a girl, yes they do like rock music !, and was directed to some pink Blondie ones . I said she doesn't like pink . The assistant looked bemused .

Now I know there are good educational toy and clothes shops with more of a range . I know that no one needs to buy along gender lines. But a quick tour of the high street will show an assumption that little girls love love love pink, want to be princesses (so many books about that) or else want to be Wags or on X Factor . It is not choice when all pyjamas on the high street come in a range of pink . The boys had action figures, combat pant PJs and dark manly colours .I gave up and will get her black leggings and a t-shirt instead.

To avoid this, to try to push past the stereotypes and marketing, takes times and effort and often is the more expensive shop that caters . Many parents will not have time or will grab cheap clothes as kids grow fast. They may not have the cash for the more expensive shops catering for the educational toys , with less pink in them.

Girls are being offered little choice and to move away from that means them pushing the boundaries and going to the boys section, thus perhaps then not fitting in with their peers . It takes a strong minded girl to reject the overwhelming pink pressure . This also affects boys , yep they are being pushed towards manly pursuits from an early age. Brave is the boy who wears pink and buys a doll.

I am not talking about pushing Hannah and Rachel into politically correct gender neutral toys and clothes. They are saying what they want themselves. Hannah likes her bugs and Rachel hates pink and dresses . Luckily they are both pretty strong minded little girls and say what they want. It just means a lot more effort to get the stuff.

I'm not alone in my frustration, there is a website called Pink Stinks. Check it out !

Pic, one of the T-shirts for sale on the Pink Stinks website.

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