Follow Along

Never Miss a thing...

Enter your email address to be updated with new posts:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Honour the Child

Blog Archive

BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Welcome to Princess Proofing 101 ~ there is no prerequisite for this course, and it is open to all parents of girls and boys.  If you are nursing blisters from mincing around in too small glass slippers to please your royal tyrant, this course is for you.  If you are still wearing those teeny glass shoes because they make your ankles look thin, carry on. Because it is all about the choice.

Check out the introduction post if you wonder what all this is about (and keep in mind, I have a tendency to type with tongue firmly in cheek)~ this series is meant to take a fun but intentional look at the challenge of raising a child in a princessified (yes, it is a word, I swear it!) culture.

Today's topic is one I approach sheepishly.
It is 'Avoiding the Pink Aisle'.
However, if you are a reader of this blog, you may recall the towering shame of my weak moment, in which I was sucked in by the pink aisle, chewed up and spit out holding a Barbie™ doll.

I am sure you have noticed it.
The Pink Aisle.
Any reasonably sized department store has one (or three) in its toy section.

One moment you are walking along, arguing with your child about why they do not need their own chainsaw or 50 lb. bag of dog food (for feeding the chipmunks), and the next you are stunned into awed silence by the Pinkness Of It All.

Ten foot high aisles, packed with glittering, shimmering, plasticy pink stuff.  Pink puppies and horses and ovens and bikes and sleeping bags and.... I am pretty sure, rainbow tooting unicorns hiding just around the corner.

There is no question which aisles the girls are supposed to shop in.
There is no question what girls are supposed to like and want. 
And BE.
(Soft and pink and frilly and greedy.)

Ironically, these oceans of options are each merely variations on a theme (cute, big eyed, sparkly and, well, yes, pink) and the end result is the limiting of our girls' understanding of themselves and even active rejection of anything outside the pink bubble.

Things like sports equipment, Lego, classic games... staples of childhood that encourage and develop a variety of skills which are generally left out of the Pink Aisle OR are made in pink to let girls know which ones are for them.

Our semi-local learning and toy store can't keep pink Plasma Cars in stock~ because pink is the only colour girls want and the only colour people choose for them~ they sell out immediately, while perfectly respectable red, blue or orange cars linger.

When we shop, we usually hit the local hardware store, it has only one aisle of toys with no gender divisions.  Or we shop online.
Or plan ahead for trips to the larger stores~ Rowan chose her bike this spring online and we went in to the store for it specifically, not being swayed by the Disney Princess and Fairies bikes casting themselves in our path, because she had made a decision based on the merits of the particular bike, not the merchandising.

So what are we telling our girls when we accept this pinkification of their worlds?
When we take this whole gorgeous creation, ripe with colour and paint it all pink?
When we limit their choices by colour?

We are telling our girls that the whole world is not theirs, only the pink bits.
That to be a girl means accepting limitations.
And accepting what others choose for you.

So the pink aisle isn't merely about a colour.
It is about limits and boundaries.
It sets in motion a whole culture of girlhood that defines itself in incredibly narrow terms.
Terms set by a market economy that wants to push our girls into their niche and keep them there.

Gosh, didn't we women work hard to change just these sorts of things?!

That super duper special pink aisle that is so wonderful that only girls can enter... is a ghetto.
A pink ghetto.

And the really ironic part?  When nursery colours came into vogue in the early 20th century, pink was a boy's colour... being a pastel shade of red and far too passionate for girls. While blue was for girls, calming and peaceful with its associations to Mary (the Virgin one) and the sea.

And today that strong and passionate colour is like so much spun sugar, pretty, delicate, insubstantial (not to mention bad for your teeth!)... certainly not enough, alone, for our brave, beautiful, confident girls to live on!

What do YOU think?! Please add your thoughts, objections, suggestions to the comments!

1) Don’t call me Princess
Get outside and get dirty.
Practice Empathy ::Consider other points of view
Avoid the Pink Aisle/ Resist the Hype
5) Be Creative (act, sing, dance, make...)
6) Develop a variety of interests
7) Keep toys simple and open ended
Share the classic Fairy Tales
9) Keep child’s play child friendly and child focussed
10) Love the Rainbow
The Real Thing
12) The Fairy Cheat


kerstin said...

AMEN! I hate that pink aisle and what it represents: consumption, PLASTIC, the obsession with tiny outfits not to mention body is all just so SHALLOW.

Anonymous said...

My 4 yr old daughter loves the pink aisle! I try and avoid it at all costs, but she still somehow gets sucked in....I have given in a little because I think if that's how she is, who am I to stop her becoming.....but I sneak all the other bits in that I can!
Now the 2yr old....well she likes trucks!

Annicles said...

I hate the pink aisle too. My girls are 6 and 11 and the pink aisle has had its attractions! The problem we have is that there is no alternative - there is not a pink aisle and a multi-coloured ailse. It is all pink.

My answer, I seem to come back to over and over again, is education. The girls are old enough to understand how they are being manipulated and are getting very savvy (with my guidance) at picking apart the pinkness from the product to be able to make decisions as to whether the product is really what they want.

An example of this is for my 11 year olds birthday, she really wanted a voice activated journal. She had seen it advertised and what she was really attracted to was the fact that it would make it impossible for anyone else to read. we looked for other colours, there weren't any so she got the pink one.

I find it is liberating to give my children the tools to pick apart the manipulation that advertisers impose upon them and see the product for its worth - or otherwise!

April's Homemaking said...

I was raised in the 70's, by a single mother, she bought us girls both Tonka trucks and Barbie, I loved setting up my ranch with Western Barbie- decidedly less pink than today's Barbie offerings.

My children are teens now- I raised them with wooden and natural toys, gave them access to lots of creative items. When they became grade school age- they gravitated to gender specific toys. My son to the action figures, and my daughter to the pink aisle (she also had to have that electronic pink secret journal). At first I was hesitant, but remembering the fun I had with toys, I respected their choices. My teen daughter and I still ooh and awe when passing that pink aisle, and the guys won't even step foot in it. Both of my children are intelligent, well rounded, and compassionate people.

So I say as long as one provides a wide variety of healthy toys, lovingly interacts with their children, a few bright pink toys or action figures are fine, and might even bring some special memories with them.

I really enjoy reading your blog- what a great topic!!

FairiesNest said...

Amen!!! There is of course the other isle which is full of dark colors and ugly dolls bristling with weaponry....sigh.
One of my favorite gifts to give toddler girls is a dump truck with blocks. I cannot tell you how many times a mother has told me it was her daughter's favorite toy. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi. Just wanted to drop a line that I would love to see the rest of your princess proofing series.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Search This Blog

Playsilk Primer

Join the Link Party!

Go Creative!

Supply Kit for Silk Fairy Mobile DIY

Supply Kit for Silk Dolly DIY