Raising Girls Today: How much pink is too much pink?

So I as I mentioned in my last post about Raising Girls Today, one of my biggest pet peeves with raising girls in society today (and this actually applies to boys too) is the commercialism and consumerism that envelops every aspect of our kids worlds today. 

An interesting observation that Peggy Orenstien makes is the prevalence of formerly gender-neutral or even “boy” toys now showing up in – you guessed it – pink.  Legos, Tinker Toys, Etch-a-Sketch, even power tools sets.  But it raises the question – are these items being sold in pink because it’s what consumers are demanding?  Will girls really only want these toys if they’re offered in pink?  Or are the companies in a sense creating this trap for little girls where their only option is pink?

It makes me wonder what the repercussions might be for offering all these toys for girls in pink.  Does it encourage girls to play with toys they might not have (i.e. power tools) because they’re pink?  Or does it limit them because they won’t want to explore toys that are not offered in pink?  Would they choose the Etch-a-Sketch anyway even though it was red?  How much influence does pink have over our little girls today and the choices they make?

Photography courtesy of amazon.com.

Peggy Orenstein relates a story about her daughter owning a silver scooter and wearing a silver helmet with a green fire-breathing dragon.  Another little girl with a pink scooter and pink helmet asked her why she was wearing a boy’s helmet.  To Peggy’s relief, her daughter stood up for herself and said it was a helmet for a boy or a girl.  But what happens to girls who choose to defy the pink?  Will they be called a boy or tom-boy?  And if so, will that peer pressure shape those girls preferences to pink to avoid being teased?

And what happens as they grow up?  Will they grow up thinking that pink is the only color they are allowed to like?  What if they like green?  Or blue?  Or red?  Are all other colors besides pink and pastels “boy colors”?  I remember having lots of pink when I was a kid, but nothing like it is today.  As kids get older will they shed the color-stereotypes and choose what they like rather than what they’re “supposed to choose” because of their gender?  Or are these limited choices in their youth causing a permanent shift in preferences for life?

Photograph courtesy of amazon.com.

And finally how, as parents, should we react?  Am I overthinking this?  Making too much out of it?  Do we just let it be and assume as the girls grow up they’ll grow out of it?  Or should we make conscious efforts to offer our daughters a variety of colors and options for their play and dress?  Do we demand that companies offer more than pink for our daughters?  Or do we buy the “boy” version and hope the girls choose to play with it anyway?

As I’ve said before, I purposely often choose non-pink and non-character items for my girls.  With three girls we have plenty of pink in our house, and I myself like a bit of variety.  That and my poor husband doesn’t need to live in a house that looks like a bottle of Pepto-Bismol exploded in it.

I’m sure he appreciates that.

So as you see I have lots of questions, but no real answers.  It’s up to each of us to know our children, assess what we feel is best for them, and make choices based on that knowledge.

What are your thoughts on toys marketing specifically to girls using pink and princess themes to catch the girls attention?  Is it okay since that’s what girls want, or are they creating the demand by offering these choices?

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4 responses

  1. I do try to buy a variety of toys in a variety of colors – but the gowns, high heels, tutu’s and such do sneak in to this home. . however, I have noticed that the legos (in gender neutral colors) and blocks and the police man dress up outfit get just as much use. EXCEPT when girl friends come over, it’s like my kids know that the other girls want to play with the “girl” things.

    I say it’s just marketing and we have to avoid falling for it. I could care less if Mikey uses a pink sippy cup or a Lightening McQueen.

  2. I have to laugh because when my son was in preschool HIS favorite color was pink. He had pink PJs (that were made for girls, but he didn’t care). His favorite plastic cup was pink. He didn’t like it if it had “girly” stuff like princesses, but liked the color.

    My daughter has never really been a pink fan and prefers blue. As the younger of the two, she had tons of boy toys to play with, but instead of crashing the cars like big brother did, she would line them up nicely.

    My son liked stuffed animals, but never played with them gently like a girl would mother them.

    Kids will identify with what they identify with, somewhat gender determined, but parents should let the child make their own choices.

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