We firmly believe that labelling boys with blue and girls with pink is not only a fool’s paradigm but also its pretty detrimental in terms of seeding gender stereotypes by parents themselves. While we are very much excited and nervous in anticipation of the birth of our first child, we did realise ourselves how the silent segmentation based on colour creeps up especially while buying clothes, accessories and even toys for babies. In this post, we shed light on our views on why we think this apparently harmless custom is nothing more than being colour blind in matters of common sense.
Does anybody know who actually said first that boys will wear blue and girls will wear pink? Even Mary would have been lost for words and lost of colours holding baby Jesus in her arms and surely the Three Wise Men didn’t carry any blue bibs for baby Jesus in Bethlehem, did they?
Jokes aside, it’s a no brainer that its yet another ploy by the marketing and advertisement companies to make majority of the clothes for baby girls in pink and for baby boys in blue. Its true that the so called neutral colours such as white, grey and yellow are also available but you will have a hard time looking for items that you would really like in terms of design, quality and price. Whereas the options in pink and blue are so diverse that consumers unknowingly end up buying clothes which are either pink or blue depending on the gender of their baby. The blue color and pink color, the way they were socially demarcated, are just a silly way to say something serious: girls are worth less than boys. Girls are less free than boys. Girls need to dream less than boys. Are these gender-based color segregation telling us that there are specific roles for boys, and specific roles for the girls? We know what these roles are: boys can play football, can run, can dream of being astronauts, NASA scientist. Girls must do ballet, must sit with closed leg, must speak low, must always be ready to obey elders- especially if they are men – must be housewives, mothers, at most nurses or teachers.
Ask yourself how your boy or girl would look in red? Is there any impediment to dress them up in yellow? Or what if the baby boy wears something pink? You can always argue that we are free to make our child wear whichever colour we want but the point we are trying to make is that by the same choice we will want you to exercise caution in this harmless chaos of colours between blue and pink.
Social stereotypes have a strong role to play in making parents purchase pink clothes and toys for baby girls and blue ones for boys. If parents are bought into this demarcation of genders based on colours, imagine what their children will profess when they grow up to understand colours themselves?
The boy will go to school in pink and become target of bullying and ridicule by other children for wearing a ‘girl’s colour’. Interestingly enough, girls get some sort of carte blanche when it comes to wearing whatever colour they wish. Think of adult men wearing skirts but women free to wear trousers and skirts. Society and the way we pass on these gender stereotypes based on colour and dress codes are really rampant and the first step we want to take as would-be parents is simply to be aware ourselves and raise awareness through blogposts such as this.
Gender Reveal parties have become very popular, especially in the West and rest of the world is catching up on this fad. Some festive explosion either in pink or blue usually reveals the gender of the unborn in front of the curious guests and well-wishers, much to the merry-making of all present. How easily we colour code a baby either in the pink or blue camp even before they breathe their first in this world! If you are curious, we never had a gender reveal party.
Even if there were religious, social or commercial reasons for shoe-horning boys to blue and girls to pink, we would love to explain simply to our child that these are nothing more than colours and every colour is beautiful, that every colour plays its role in making things around us look so vibrant, pretty and full of life. While it is true that certain colours signify certain things in many cultures and countries – for example Christians wearing white during weddings but others wearing white during funerals, the way red is regarded as such an auspicious colour for the Chinese and so on. However, it would be hard to find any country or society in modern times where women exclusively wear pink and men only wear blue. You would surely see men wearing both blue and white shirts at work and the choice for women in terms of colours is unlimited. Then what’s the point of the silly little blue-pink link for babies?
The fact of the matter is that a child will hardly understand or remember whether its parents made it wear black, blue, red or pink. Its just that when it will begin to understand its surroundings, meet other children in school is when it will come to them naturally that blue is for boys and pink is for girls because their parents made them wear so. They might have even heard them saying on the dinner table to reconfirm the pink-blue divide. Starting apparently casually with this colour-coded way of treating boys and girls differently, it almost always will lead to additional gender stereotypes being engrained in young minds – next in line will be the ones based on dresses, body shapes, physical strengths and job roles.
We would love to deck up our child in whatever colour, prints and patterns we fancy – surely also including both blue and pink – irrespective of having a boy or girl. As for the first 3 months, I have decided to focus on a neutral colors because research shows that newborn babies see primarily in shades of black, white, and gray. A monochrome color scheme filled with contrasting patterns and shapes provides a newborn with the best form of visual stimulation. For elegance and sophistication that will grow with a child, I have also bought a few pieces with stripes. To bring fun and whimsy to Shona’s crib/cot bedding, I have designed and got made a bedding and bed accessories set in white and grey with patterns like polka dots by an independent designer. There is no point of being colour blind parents so early on in parenthood when it comes to passing on human values to our offspring. Why not let us know what you think about this pink-blue gender divide? Leave us a comment below and lets spread some colours in our thoughts when it comes to baby products.0