December 31, 2009 in Uncategorized
By Ana Lilian, Los Angeles Moms Blog
I just read on the NYT Motherlode blog an article titled “Boycotting Pink Toys for Girls” about a British online campaign started by two moms-Pink Stinks-which just launched an effort to boycott the Early Learning Centre, a large toy retailer in Britain, during the Christmas season because of their “pinkification” of girls’ toys. They know there are many toy outlets that abide by this practice, but believe the ELC is the worst offender since they market themselves as educational.
Yes, they have a point that the role models being perpetuated by marketers and retailers are too narrow and simplified to define who our girls really are. However, I4m not sure that pointing our fingers towards retailers will result in us raising strong, secure and powerful women. Note that I didn4t always think this way. For a long time I would pinch my nose at the site of pink and its derivatives because I felt pink was the first step at becoming a frivolous, self-centered, image-obsessed girl. Think Paris Hilton.
Ever since we found out three years ago that we were expecting a baby girl we got on the mind set to avoid anything frilly, cutesy, and pink. I didn’t mind a fuchsia, hot, Mexican-rose pink, but could almost vomit by the site of the soft baby pink and ruffles that surrounded baby girls’ products. I even went to the point of requesting on my baby shower invitations that “Please, no pink gifts.” I knew I would still be bombarded by pink, but wanted to minimize the impact as much as possible, while sending a message that we were not raising “that type of girl.” Whatever that means.
Our “no-pink” obsession morphed into a “no-dolls” obsession once our girl was born and she started being interested in toys. She had plenty of Ugly Dolls, musical instruments, stuffed dogs, wooden blocks, and any of the other wannabe cool-parent statement toys, but not one doll or girly thing in site. And not much playing around or intense interest coming from her, except for the musical toys and her wooden kitchen.
When she was about 15 months she started going twice a week to a family daycare. There were a couple of babies there with whom she instantly bonded. Not only that, but when I would go pick her up she was always playing with dolls. She would be cradling one or two and shushing them to sleep. So completely absorbed in what she was doing that it looked like it was just natural for her to be doing it. Her whole face would light up when she saw me coming and all she wanted was to show me her Bebe. At around the same time, she started wanting to “help” around the house and would grab the broom, the mop, the sponge, etc … making it so much more difficult for me to get anything done. That’s when it finally hit me that we were totally and completely depriving her of being a girl; that because of our own fears and complexes we were not letting her nurture that physical part of herself wired with feminine characteristics and hormones of taking care of and connecting with others. Plus, her main role models are all women who she sees tending to babies, children, friends and the household. These same women being strong, independent and passionate about many things in life.
That’s when I got it and when she got her very first doll-with a stroller to push her around in, plus her very own cleaning set. It’s been a year now, she’s two and a half and still loves taking that doll for walks and helping mama clean the house.
The pink-myth was one more of those, oh-so-many, AHA moments that abound in motherhood; just like how I swore that no matter what we would always listen to my music in the car. Yeah, right! I’m still humming Dora’s Christmas Carol songs in my head from the overdose. I realized that more important than all my life philosophies and social moral issues I4d like to help rectify is to observe my daughter, follow HER cues and let her BE and gravitate towards what sparks her curiosity. Especially at this young age of discovery and brain connections. This doesn4t mean I let her run wild and don’t provide a moral compass and limits for her. We are totally about limits in the aspects of her life where she needs them. But there’s no way I’m gonna push her to play with trains and trucks if all she wants is to twirl like a princess and put her babies to bed. And it’s not like we’re even pushing those girly images on her. She just naturally prefers to play with more typical girl toys. That’s what I found fascinating and when I knew I had to back off on my anti-pink obsession.
What I’m trying to get at is that for me it all boils down to parental responsibility. If we want to raise strong individuals we must be involved, listen to them, know what they need and nurture them by providing opportunities for them to grow towards their chosen path. Not start out their lives by choosing for them through our own preconceived, and often warped, notions.
This is an original LA Moms blog (http://www.lamomsblog.com/). Ana Lilian is a free-to-be-pink (at heart) freelance TV producer and advocate for raising bilingual and bicultural children on her blog, SpanglishBaby.