How much do we condition our children to fit our (and society’s) pre-conceptions? Do we unconsciously select blue clothing for our sons and pink for our daughters? And how would we feel if our sons wanted to wear hot pink? Judging from the public reaction to Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s tomboy wardrobe, the subject is clearly a touchy one.
This age-old debate of nature/nurture was brought home to me the other day when my 3 year old son appeared in one of his sister’s frilly vests. Stifling a laugh, I asked him why he was wearing her vest?
He promptly replied, “It’s blue”.
“But it’s got bows on!”, I protested. Which it did, pretty little white ribbons on either strap.
“It’s blue; it’s a boy’s vest” was his firm answer. And that was that.
Then yesterday, I discovered at bath time that my little chap had spent the day wearing girl’s pants. Gorgeous little Boden ones with lace hems and decorated all over in tiny rosebuds. Again, because the flowers were blue, he declared them “boy’s pants”. And similarly, his sister refused to allow them into her wardrobe.
So for now, it seems that in my childrens’ eyes, anything blue = masculine and pink is reserved for girls. Of course, it wasn’t ever thus. Pink, being a diluted shade of red and an expensive pigment, was traditionally used to dye men’s clothing. The colour blue was strongly associated with the Virgin Mary so was often used for women’s fabrics. Blue was also declared to be a ‘dainty’ colour and best suited to little girls. Boys, on the other hand, were often dressed in the stronger shade of pink.
I personally love seeing men dressed in pink of any shade – pastel pink, bright fuschia or anything in between! But somehow there’s a difference between a grown man wearing pink and a toddler doing so. I’m not sure I would deliberately choose a pink T-shirt for my little boy…
But there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about his choice of underwear!