Saturday, 23 July 2011

the altar of pink

As Florence is nearly 4 months old, it's no surprise that's she's pretty much outgrown all of her 0-3m clothes. Whilst sorting through them, I start to ponder about this again: why is it so bloody hard to find decent baby girl clothing that isn't bloody pink?

Pre-pregnancy, when babies weren't really on my radar, there were only two things that I envisaged with any certainty, should I ever become a mother: 1. that I would breastfeed, and 2. that if I had a daughter, I wouldn't want her worshiping at the altar of pink. I'd read about the pinkstinks campaign, and it all worried me.

I don't know exactly when little girls were taught to be obsessed with pink - it must be sometime after the 70s and 80s, because I'm quite sure that it wasn't an issue when I was growing up. Our toys came in different colours, and so did our clothes. But in the 21st century, pink is everywhere. And I don't think that's harmless - I think it's downright sinister. I can't help but feel that as soon as women move towards greater equality, we decide to keep the next generation of women firmly in their place - making them preoccupied with pink from an early age, helping them to grow up believing that the most important thing is to be pretty, a pretty princess. Sod a career. Be a wag!

When I was pregnant, already firmly anti-pink, all the sleepsuits I bought were white. And whilst I would still maintain that there's no nicer colour for a newborn - they look so delicious all bundled up in white - I soon became bored, and wanted more interesting clothes for her. (I do what I suspect a lot of mums do - I want to live vicariously through her wardrobe, not really being able to justify spending much on myself.) This is when it became apparent to me just how hard it is to escape the scourge of pink, and the slogans that often accompany and reinforce its tyranny: Princess, Pretty, 100% cute.

There are some beautiful girls and unisex clothes to be found however. Wonderful, bright garments in shades other than pink. Usually they're Scandinavian - Molo, Katvig, Duns Sweden, Smafolk. Unfortunately, they're also Ridiculously Expensive. Only a select few can afford them...meanwhile, the rest of us have to shop at Primark and Tescos, where it looks like Barbie has vomited all over the girls' aisle. Sometimes, I have managed to hit the of the nicest items Florence has worn is a little vest, just a cheap one, from a multipack - and, gasp - it's blue. Pale blue, with white polka dots on: definitely a girl's vest. I want to find more clothes like that.

Toys and things like changing mats and bouncy chairs are easier to navigate - I ignore the pink versions, and opt for the colourful unisex ones. They're better for visual development anyway. I did once buy a pack of blue muslins, in a rather inconsequential act of defiance against pink.

I'm aware though that in the not too distant future, Florence will have her own ideas on what she wants to wear. To what extent will she be influenced by what's in the shops, by what her friends wear, by what she sees on the street and on the tv? We can dodge pink for now, but we might end up at that altar anyway.


  1. Boys clothes are worse, you can literally only get baby blue or cream! It gets easier with girls as they get older :) x

  2. My little girl admittedly does wear a lot of pink! I've never really liked pink, especially baby pink but I do think that pink/blue can play an important part in kids developing gender roles. The cutest vest that she's got is a pale blue one with polka dots though, and her favourite colour is green, so I doubt she'll be one of those manicure loving toddlers that make me cringe so much :)

  3. Boys clothes are tough, particularly when they're small. It does get easier has they grow up though. There also tends to be less space devoted to boys' clothes. Not that this means girls exactly have more choice, when it's either pink, pink or pink.

    Maybe it's time we made them, but without the scary price tags? Come on crafy people!

  4. I like pink. I think it's a nice colour. But I also like blue, red, orange, green... so I share your frustration at how most girls clothes are pink. I want a bit of variety!