Genderfication of Color, or Why are All the Baby Clothes Pink?

Pink and purple hanging toy mat

For those of you who do not know David and I recently added an addition to our family in the form of a new Geek Baby, who happens to be a girl. Besides some things to consider when she was born, when changing her, or with the name we gave her there is not much reason that her being a girl matters at this age.

At the same time when it comes to baby clothes it is amazing the difference color schemes that you will find in baby clothes that are designated as “for girls.” The fact that some baby clothes are designated “girl” is kind of ridiculous in my opinion because generally it does not matter. At the same time the thing that I am finding is that the way they designate clothes as “girl” is through the color and it is just ridiculous that we would decide that we need to color things differently based on gender. It does not entirely end there because there are toys and more that also get color coded along the same lines. The interesting thing is definitely that we buy into this delineation literally.

Baby Clothes

Supergirl and Batgirl onesiesThe baby clothes thing can get particularly ridiculous. Now we personally decided to try and go as gender neutral as possible when we were asking for clothes because we knew that there was a possibility the ultrasound could be wrong. We also figured that people would probably get us enough pink stuff anyway – and boy were we right. Now don’t get me wrong I have no problem with my daughter wearing pink, but the fact that almost every outfit designated as “girl” contains pink is where it just seems to get a little out of hand. The other thing I noticed is that “boy” clothes seem to have deeper, darker colors and some pastels, but mostly blue and green. Then the girls have either pastel or bright neon, but also includes pinks and purples.

The interesting thing I think that it is more socially acceptable to put a girl in the “boy” colors than the boy in the “girl” colors. Some of it just depends on whether you are okay with people calling your baby girl “he” or your baby boy “she.” The big thing is that at this age it so does not matter. The important thing is that they are clothed appropriately for the weather and while there are a lot of cute outfits you can put them in the color is really one of the least important elements of those choices (besides the fact that babies are messy and white tends to stain).

Baby Toys

Pink bouncy chairNow this is where it can get even more tricky in my opinion. Now for the most part toys in general seem to be neutral because it is about stimulating all of the baby’s senses to help with their development. This does not keep companies from adding pink to toys to make them for “girls”. The fact is that people can and do create rooms that are entirely blue or entirely pink based on the sex of the baby. Now personally, while I do not have a problem with pink, I would never want to have everything pink because that just seems extreme to me. So instead of choosing a color for the baby’s room we have gone with a more generic animal / zoo theme. We have all kinds of animals for the crib and grandma got her a beautiful alphabet zoo picture that we can hang on the wall. It is very easy to create a room that is good for all babies, but there is a mentality that we need to put “girl” or “boy” things depending on the child.

Pinkifying

The two examples above are simply the idea that you add pink (and possibly a bow) to make things for girls, but often they are things that people have thought up and decided to make them pink. There is another level of creating things for a specific gender and that is to alter the original color of a thing to make it “girl” friendly. Examples of this can be seen with adding pink to the logo of things or making something pastel to make it more “girly”. The implication seems to be that girls want things that have pink and will not like things otherwise, which really is a concept that I cannot understand. It will be interesting as she gets older and to see what she how she reacts to the amount of pink that shows up.

Conclusion

Now as Geek Baby is too young to choose for herself we get to choose for her and can try to expose her to a variety of options. At the same time as she gets older it is important to allow her to start to choose and not disparage any of those choices. It could be that she ends up liking pink and wants everything pink and that is fine. The problem is the fact that we seem to designate pink as “girl”, when really a color is just a color. We have put meaning on to it, but in the end a color is not going to be the only reason a child plays with or wears something (for the most part). It is also the fact that we need to recognize that kids can really wear any color and it does not change who they ultimately are.

Alphabet Zoo Poster

The Alphabet Zoo poster we will be hanging up in Geek Baby’s room.

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16 responses to “Genderfication of Color, or Why are All the Baby Clothes Pink?

  1. With their daughter was born, my friends tried so hard to avoid the pink overload but when she got a bit older and was able to express her preferences she started asking for pink stuff presumably because she’d absorbed and internalised the stereotype from TV, books and playing with other little ones. It’s a shame it’s so pervasive because as you rightly say, kids can wear any colour.

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    • Yeah there is a question of whether she will want pink or not in the future. I do think that society definitely plays into it and it is about allowing her choice but maybe encouraging beyond the usual choice.

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  2. Reminds me of this post:

    Or, as Sophia LaBelle and Janet Mock put it, “I was born a baby.” https://m.facebook.com/assignedmale/photos/a.305470909635180.1073741828.300503316798606/393658930816377/

    I feel like perhaps the most frustrating parent of parenting a baby and small child is having in terms of gender would be dealing with other people’s gendered assumptions and bloodthirsty need to know what sex the baby was assigned. If you do find some non-gendered nerd baby clothes, that might be a fun post.

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    • PS I love your comment about how baby clothes only need to protect the child from the elements and to be functional.

      Liked by 2 people

    • The gender of a lot of nerd clothes is more from others perception. I do like that we do have a wild things onesie and got a this princess saves herself onesie. A lot of the Think Geek baby clothes are great and besides others perceptions are not gendered in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on your new family member. I agree with all of this. Actually, when I grew up I couldn’t stand the colour pink because almost every gift I received for bdays and Christmas was pink. I otherwise probably wouldn’t have had an opinion on the colour at all, I just didn’t like how it was forced on me.

    This depends on whether you think nature or nurture has a stronger impact. Are we born with a preference to colour because of our gender, or do we develop the preference due to environmental expectations? I read somewhere that many girls go for pink because they feel embarrassed or awkward saying they want something else. I’ve also talked to boys who felt too embarrassed to admit to liking the odd girls toy. In fact they changed the title of Frozen to be gender neutral and found that helped with the films success by allowing boys to enjoy it too.

    I’ve talked about this to my partner and we’ve also decided that if we ever have kids we’d rather have a neutral animal themed room. I’d also like to expose them to lots of things so they can decide for themselves what they want to like; if that happens to be pink things and princesses then fair enough.

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    • The amount of pink stuff we got was ridiculous and I purposefully avoided asking for pink stuff. Now some of the pink is because we got a lot of hand me downs from a friend with a girl and I will not refuse free clothes. It was still ridiculous. The other thing that there was a lot of was frills which I personally was not a fan of.

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      • I can understand why. It worries me because I won’t want to seem ungrateful, but at the same time I don’t think I’ll appreciate receiving too many girly clothes or allowing their grandparents to dress them that way. I know it doesn’t matter at the really young ages, but I don’t want to enforce stereotypes on them from too young an age so that they have the room to decide who they want to be. Mind, my mum says in turn that she won’t be too happy if I dress my own grandchildren according to my own style.

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  4. We also have a new baby girl and it is so hard to find anything that isn’t pink. Fortunately, we’re in a situation where our older son got a lot of his hand-me-downs from his female cousins (so he wore pink and purple stuff), and now our girl is getting stuff from him, so she has a good mix of colours and styles. It’s next to impossible to find anything “Neutral”.

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  5. I’ve noticed this a ton too. Some of the graphic tees that differentiate boy/girl interests are fascinatingly terrible. Boy tees are all about construction and dinosaurs and superheroes, while girls get flowers and butterflies and princesses. The amount of pink is disturbing, but so are the decorative elements.

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  8. I’ll never understand the need to separate gender by colors. You’re right, a color is a color. About 50 years ago, pink was for boys anyway. In many countries in Africa, pink is for boys and yellow is for girls. Perhaps I hate seeing little girls dressed up in pink because I also think it’s an ugly color.

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