Recently I started work at a footwear store at a shopping centre. Most people come to look at shoes for kids, since it's summer and the footwear I sell is well-known to be comfortable and resiliant, easy to clean etc. To date there have been 9 occasions, when the following happens: Mother comes in with her son, generally 1-5yo, and proceeds to look at the merchandise. By this time the boy has had a quick look and has set his sights on a pink pair of kids' shoes. He insists he likes this, but the mother always says "That's for girls. You're not a girl. Look at these(gestures to a blue pair), these are for boys." The boy still insists on the pink, the mother again says it's for girls and soon after, they leave. The first time this happened, the boy actually started crying. My heart breaks a little every time. It's not like they've been manufactured and labelled 'for girls'. It's just a colour. If the boy prefers the pink shoes to the blue, what exactly is so wrong with that? I'm interested what all you lovely people think about this concept of gender-tagged colours.

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Comment by Joan Denoo on June 21, 2014 at 10:31am

leveni, how interesting! I didn't know that. 

When I was in Asia, the color for an infant was black. Something about good luck. It looked really strange to me to see all these babies dressed in black. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on June 21, 2014 at 10:25am

Outrageous! The job of the parent is to provide a safe place for the child to develop from inside out. Kind of like waiting to discover the child, not to fashion the child into a preconceived notion of who and what he or she is to be. It sounds like fear of homosexuality on the mother's part, or she is under the influence of a sexist society and does what she can to maintain and perpetuate the status quo. 

Comment by jay H on June 21, 2014 at 7:55am

The whole thing is silly. And because it's silly I certainly can't get upset about it.

True its purely cultural (think Lawrence's Pinkie vs Gainsborough's Blue Boy), it's just custom. Really, harmless custom. Its absurd to get upset about it.

Social mammals (and primates) DO segregate and socialize differently to some degree by gender. It's part of our evolutionary history. The details, however are related to whatever culture you happen to be in.

Comment by B Fletcher on June 9, 2014 at 3:19pm

How do I feel?  It totally weirds me out, is how I feel.  I want to be gender neutral and not push my kids one way or the other around "gendered" objects, activities, etc, but I have to fight my ingrained biases all the way.  Maybe I should steer my son away from pink because kids at school will tease him?  Should we use clear pink/blue baby so people don't feel awkward trying to pick pronouns when discussing the baby?  Am I just coming up with excuses to cover for my own neuroses and conformist aspirations?

I don't feel any pressure around religious questions in raising my kids.  We'll politely hold our tongues so long as you don't push your mythologies on us, but I'm happy to pull them apart in the privacy of our own home.  Gender issues?  That's an area I was totally unprepared for as a parent.

Comment by Grinning Cat on June 8, 2014 at 12:57pm

Many toy manufacturers seem to believe that girls can only perceive colors in the pink-to-purple range.

When I was twentysomething, I visited my parents while wearing a colorful (Guatemalan?) belt much like this one. My mom's reaction: "Where did you get that? It's a woman's belt", to which I responded, "It's a man's belt now."

(image source)

Comment by Michael Penn on June 8, 2014 at 9:11am

I see your point. Christian gender apologetics has dictated today that the mother might help in turning the boy "gay" if she got him a pink pair of shoes. We have to raise this child and keep it away from everything deemed as "gay." This is such a religious duty.

Now it comes to dolls and the girls can have a Barbie while the boys can play with G. I. Joe. Hey, wait a minute. Aren't they both dolls?

Comment by leveni on June 8, 2014 at 4:01am

It used to be the other way around.

From Earnshaw's Infants' Department in June 1918 

"The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.[38][39][40][41][42]"



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