Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shades of pink

This is one of those posts that has been milling around in my head for awhile. It actually stems from an internet argument that caused me to leave a message board. At the time, I was pregnant but didn't know the gender of the baby as it was to early to know. The argument may have been even more relevant since it turned out to be a girl. But the argument is all over the place lately - I like to call it the princess debate. It has more to do with the blatant coloring of everything for little girls in one shade. Pink. Which is helped along by one of my favorite companies ever. Disney. Yes, I said it. I LOVE Disney.

Let me preface this whole thing by explaining that I am a geek. Like, I met my husband at a LARP (live-action role play for those who don't know the word) geek. Like I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons geek. Like, I'm a girl who likes science and math geek and even more so if they're puzzles (like sudokus). Like, I watch Discovery Channel for fun geek. So I may bring a different perspective to this. I think I also have a unique perspective because I also teach the product of years of US culture. High school students.

The argument that so much pink is bad for girls is one I won't argue with. There's no reason to have the same toy for a baby boy and a baby girl but make the girl one in pink. Last I checked, babies liked variety. So you won't catch me buying the girl a pink toy if there's a more colorful one right next to it. After all, I didn't have pink everything and I came out just fine, thank you very much. But part of the argument goes on to the princesses, which tends to target Disney, since it's probably their princesses that started the whole thing. Ahhh, Disney princesses. I love Sleeping Beauty. And Cinderella. They're my favorites. And I fully expect that the girl will have a favorite too.

Here's the thing. I don't expect that a love for princesses will cause her to turn into a vapid idiot. Nor do I think that she will spend her whole life as an imbecile searching for Prince Charming to come along. Because I don't expect to teach her those things. And that is where I differ from the hundreds of feminists and other people who would like to roast the princesses on a spit because their very existence means that my daughter will be like I described above.

Anybody who honestly thinks that the influence of the media is more relevant to their child than the influence of their parent is off their rocker. Does this mean that the media does not affect them? Of course not. My son wants everything he sees with Lightning McQueen on it. He's watched that movie waaaaaay to many times. But he likes it and I'm trying to use this obsession to start to teach him that we can't have everything that we want. And toddlers are obsessive anyway. If it wasn't Cars, it would be something else. I recall my brother being obsessed with Transformers. And I'm fairly certain that before there was media children were still obsessed with things. They were probably just obsessed with things in nature. And eventually I'm pretty sure that my son will discover the joy of bugs or lizards or some other equally disgusting thing. And I wouldn't be surprised if the girl does too, since it's becomming all to clear that she's obsessed with her brother. Look at that - 3 months old and already obsessed with something. I don't think she's likely to want to turn into a boy. Although, I guess you never know.

My point is, that there will always be something. I have several obsessions myself, although I tend to refer to them as hobbies or collections. I have several dragons in my bedroom (I am a dragon, according to the Chinese calendar, so maybe that's why I like them so much?), I have a box of scrapbooking supplies, I love to travel (and take pictures of said travel, hence the scrapbooking supplies) and oh yeah, Disney pervades my house. My movies, a few sculptures, art books and some clothing all with Disney as their focus. Does it surprise you that my son like Disney? Do you think my daughter will? I would bet yes.

I'm also willing to bet that they will learn to love food and travel, because both my husband and I do. I'm also pretty sure that they will develop a love for nature and all things science, math and puzzles because so do I. If they don't that's ok, but it wouldn't surprise me to find out they enjoy those things. I feel confident that MY values (Disney is awesome) was far more important in my son's attachment than a tv commercial. Because who exposed him to Disney? Me. Yes, on purpose.

Do all kids love Disney? Uh, no. In fact, I teach kids (and I've been teaching for 7 years now, so I've seen a fair few of them) who abhor Disney. So, I guess they missed the marketing message. I see lots of girls who shun the color pink. I see lots of girl who are total vapid morons and I don't think it has anything to do with Disney (ever heard of a beauty pageant?). There are a million different things that can cause girls to be idiots, but I am fairly sure that every time that message came from one place initially. Parents.

Now, does media reinforce some things? Well, of course it does. There is far to much objectification of females in the media. There is far to much marketing directed at kids. Both of those things mean that parents must be paying attention. Talking to their kids. Teaching their values. That's where this can be fixed. Companies make pink toys because ADULTS buy pink toys. Adults, who should be able to think for themselves. Who should be able to talk to their kids and tell them why that's dumb.

Bottom line? Let the corporations do what they will. Let the other side yell about how horrible the corporation is. In the meantime, I'm raising my kids over here and I'm trying to teach them how to be polite, responsible adults who think for themselves. And if my daughter likes pink, well, that's ok with me.


Miss Ruby said...

I HATED pink growing up and now I actually really like it...tastes change. I know plenty of "girls" who can't stand pink and plenty who LOVE IT (inclu my besties girl who is so girly much to my besties disgust lol)

Here for ICLW
Rach @

Britt said...

Well said! And I agree, the media's job is to make sell the's the parent's job to instill values and morals. I think it's time to stop blaming the media for the downfall of society and start looking to the breakdown of the family! *steps off soapbox* Happy ICLW!!

Whitney said...

Wonderful post! I hated pink when I was little, because my mom did. Now? It's my favorite color, and about half the things in my house are pink (my guy gets his in blue - how stereotypical are we?). Nothing whatsoever to do with media, we just like these colors!

Very glad you're one of the parents who actually tackles their role as parents. I'm so sick of parents sitting back and letting everything else (TV, pop culture, the media, school teachers, etc) "parent" for them. Go you!!

Terry Elisabeth said...

I loved Disney princess. I love princesses that Disney hasn't touched yet. I loved pink growing up but was denied all the frills. As a teen I wore black. I came back to pink in the lat 3 years. I am intelligent, articulate, cultivated and I was never looking for Prince Charming to come save me. So yeah, pink has nothing to do with it, neither does princesses. If I have girls, I'll let them have pink, Barbies, princess books and dresses. I think I'll have more influence in her life than Disney.
Great post!

daega99 said...

Cool post! I grew up in a yellow room that became pink when I went 13. My favorite colour is blue. All of this is irrelevant to the person that I became!

BTW - I love Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty too (and Jasmine now that I think of it)


nh said...

Well said. We can't blame the media for all the ills in the world. I teach teenagers - they have parents, teachers and friends as their main providers of ideas. You teach a girl to be a princess, and she will be. Teach her to fight her way in the world - and she'll do that.


subfertilefrugalista said...

Very well said. I'm definitely a girly girl, but have the same thoughts on the princesses and all-things-pink. I think there is a nice balance for boys and girls.

Congrats on the new baby!

Lori said...

Agreed! I also have seen enough of my share of kids who have been brainwashed by all sorts of stuff--but that's mostly because their PARENTS don't parent--they don't let them know that girls are awesome athletes and boys can totally dig reading and be cool...It's really sad to see so much blamed on marketing (though, as a former marketer/PR rep, there are some REALLY tough sells out there!) but one look at a show like Toddlers and Tiaras and one can pretty much make out that it's the MOMS and DADS who foster that thinking...not Disney or whatever!! I sometimes wonder if some parents want to relive their childhood through their kids--and so it's then instilled?

In any event, kids are railroaded into what they should and shouldn't like by tv as it is...moms and dads need to help them realize that it's ok to like what they LIKE, regardless!!

BTW--All about Discovery, NatGeo, History, TLC...not so much the Dungeons and Dragons--no patience--but I tell my students all the time--Nerds run the world. This, of course, is when someone comes running to me crying about how someone called them a nerd. Because they got a good grade on their spelling test.


jrs said...

Great post.

I think there are way too many pink things out there these days. Some is great, but it can get a little obnoxious.

It is important to take the role of parenting seriously.

Glad your AC is working as well.

Hope said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It didn't sound weird at all saying good luck with a new injection spot. That's exactly what I've been doing! Not because it hurts but to try and keep the bruising down (so far, not working).

I loved your post. I'm begining to think that feminism and the women's movement didn't really do a heck of a lot to help women. I think we should celebrate loving pink and princesses (or not if you don't) and celebrate everything about being female!

~Jess said...

Hear! Hear! I think too many people allow the media to raise their children, and then they wonder what happened. I still refuse to intentionally buy pink for my daughter....I just don't care for it much myself.

I second Britt!


PFM said...

Please check out my non profit's blog and website.
Our mission is to provide financial and emotional support to those building families through adoption or medical intervention. We need help spreading the word!
Happy ICLW

christine said...

What a great post! I think I would have liked pink and girly things no matter what!

Happy ICLW!

Lisa said...

While not a princess myself, and never a fan of dolls, I indulged my daughter's love of Cinderella, Belle and Jasmine, their high heels, tiaras, plastic pearls and pink feathers boas.

Now at 10 y/o, she likes denim, black, camouflage, skinny tank-tops (no bare middles)and friendship bracelets. I make it a practice not to make negative comments or insist she change to suit my taste, unless it's completely inappropriate. I was stifled and managed by a mother who laid my clothes out daily until I went to high school (only slightly exaggerated).

Eventually my daughter will outgrow this phase and start a new one in which pink or blue or turquoise is the new black . She wears a school uniform(all UK public schools), so I like to let her show her own style when she's in her own free time. I do have a problem with her very long, curly hair... put it up, leave it down, just make sure it's unsnarled.

I wouldn't have too many expectations about the kids being like you or liking what you do...we have two picky kids who definitely do not take after us foodies, 1 is sporty, the other so-so, both artistic, 1 is fab at foreign language, the other hates it, and so on... You just never know until they start to display interests and talents, and it's all subject to change.
BTW, I love a muted pink a la Martha Stewart interiors.

s said...

what an insightful, intelligent blog.
thank you for sharing your thoughts.
it's funny how some colors in our society designate female and others designate male. and then there's the color yellow which people tend to think goes either way ... alot of expectant parents will paint the baby room walls yellow when they don't want to know the sex of their baby. how did yellow get to be gender neutral but blue isn't? i own blue jeans and blue shirts and skirts. it's strange attaching sexuality to color. like giving dolls to girls and trucks to boys. go figure.

justine said...

Was reading some of your past posts and this one caught my eye. I couldn't agree more ... let children choose their favorite colors, and let parents actually *parent*. I think the reason so many people complain about Disney is that they can't have a conversation with their children about what they're seeing!