The Politics of Pink

The other day I was talking to my good friend Tracey about our boys and the politics of pink. As moms we are aware of how much our boys love colours that have been defined as either boys or girl colours, and how it is still much easier to dress a girl in “boy” clothes that she likes than it is to dress boys in “girl” clothes. I hate that I still feel like I can’t get my boys clothes that have a gender bias, even if it is one that is imposed on them by society.


I wrote the above paragraph a few months ago and it still holds true, my sons love bright colours and things that sparkle. Unfortunately now that Aidan is in kindergarten he worries about what the other kids think. He still loves the bright colours, but he isn’t as willing to voice that preference. Quinlan loves pink and purple and sparkles and he points this out to anyone who will listen.  In fact today when I was getting ready to go to Northern Voice, Quinlan decided what shoes I was going to wear to the conference. So if you saw me today with a pair of purple sequenced chucks that was my boy at work. Anything for the little boy who says “Pretty shoes Mommy, you look beautiful!”

I am determined that Quinlan and Aidan wear what they like no matter what.  I want them to be confident and make any fashion statement they like. If they want colour in their hair? No problem. They want pink ties and cool hats? No problem. They want to wear a cape as an accessory to school? No problem. 

I admit that when Aidan was small I worried about what other people would think and I steered him away from the “girl’s” purple sequins sneakers. I regret that now and I let them have a choice in what they wear and when we buy new clothes they get a say. This is why Aidan has a few dress shirts that he likes to wear with a tie and a vest and his hat. Aidan loves to be dressed up and he looks fabulous. The confidence Aidan has  is fantastic. Quinlan also loves to be dressed up and he has a few shirts he loves, as well as his “dancing hat.”

I am glad that the pink shirt day forced me to think about how I was bowing to pressure from society to socialize my boys to steer toward safe colour choices. I am now longer bowing to that pressure and I let my boys choose what they want.

Last Friday Tracey and I met for a play date with our boys. Aidan choose to wear his long-sleeved pink shirt under his Star Wars t-shirt. Quinlan chose to wear his pink butterfly shirt. I thought it was cool and let it go at that. When we got to the play place Little T was wearing a pink polo shirt. All of our boys decided that they wanted to wear the pink shirts and they had a blast playing. I thought that it was fantastic that both Tracey and I made an effort after our talk about the politics of pink to find way that our colour loving kids could get to wear the colours they liked. From here on out we are taking back colour for our boys.

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4 Responses to The Politics of Pink

  1. Leeann says:

    Nice post! I have the same attitude as you; I want to let my son choose to wear with and play with what he wants. He has asked for nail polish in the past and I have allowed him to wear it.

    We shopped for a pink polo shirt for pink shirt day and talk about how people can wear any colour they want.

    Imagine my surprise when on pink shirt day he did NOT want to wear his pink shirt. Someone at sometime at school (he is in Kindergarden) had told him that pink is only for girls and he bought in.

    So now at home we are working to talk about how any colour is for anyone, but I fear that there is so much against us in society that the push to allow this freedom will be uphill…

    But thank you for your attitudes and actions. Hopefully this generation of parents will continue to be as enlightened.

  2. Tracey says:

    Great post Gwen. Lil T’s new favourite item is a blazer my mom bought him with gold buttons on the front and on the sleeves. Who knows what he will want to wear for breakfast tomorrow. But we know there will be lots of years ahead where he won’t want to wear things like that. So we are enjoying it while we can.
    Tracey´s last blog post ..Loyal Customers – true loyalists or just too lazy to change

  3. Colette says:

    Awesome post Gwen. I babysat triplets (two girls and a boy) whose mom let them dress themselves in whatever they wanted. She pretty much had four bins for them – Shirts, Pants/shorts, dresses/skirts and socks. Sometimes the boy wanted to wear a skirt over his pants, and sometimes he wanted the “girl” colored shirts or frilly socks. It was wonderful to watch each one express how they were feeling or wanted to feel that day by chosing their own clothes. I agree that the stigma of it being “ok” for girls to dress up in “boy” clothes, but not vice versa. I am a creative soul and believe that everyone should be able to express themselves freely and without riducule from others.

  4. Kelly says:

    I’m all for kids exploring their world in ways that are harmless. A boy wearing a pink tutu may raise some eyebrows but in the long run, it will harm no one.

    All the outrage (re:gender norms) stem from fear in my opinion. Fear of ‘turning a boy gay’ and other such nonsense.

    It also jives with the double standard of the acceptable tomboy female versus the feminine little boy. Lesbianism is much more socially acceptable than a gay male relationship…..though why I have no idea. Love is love, but I digress.

    Kids should be able to experiment with life. Food choices, sports, clothing and lots of other things because it will only teach them about themselves in a positive way.

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