Pink – just for girls?
Sometimes my boys test me, I claim to be able to give them freedom to play with the toys they want and to wear want they want but at times they do actually make me stop and question myself. When it comes to toys we have a range of ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys but even with these I probably pick the more boyish colours. From where I am sitting I see art stuff, animals, dolls house, little people, chunky Lego, train track, trains, cars, blocks, dolls, kitchen, buggies and books. They play with everything pretty equally and have no notion of toys being anything other than things to play with.
When it comes to clothes they wear whatever I put them in, including a range of colourful jumpers that my mum knits. They both have a tutu which they call their “pretty dancing dresses” and they put them on whenever they dance.
As their winter boots are worn out I was looking for new shoes for them, my 4 year old was looking at the Livie and Luca website with me and spotted a pink pair of shoes with a large flower on the front, he said he they were pretty and those were the ones he wanted. I found myself saying no but couldn’t think of a decent reason why, I then realised they didn’t have his size so told him this was the reason. I said we’d look again later and decided to Google boys wearing pink and found a couple of great blog posts.
The first post was on Don’t mind the Mess, it’s about a mum and little boy going to buy new shoes, his choice of pink and people’s reaction to them. The second post was on Medicated Follower of Fashion and was a rant about society’s pressure for boys to wear blue and girls to wear pink.
Both these posts got me thinking about my reasons for saying no, I knew it wasn’t my own feelings about boys and girls colours, I do think people should wear whatever they want and not be restrained by what is deemed socially acceptable. My fear was other people’s reactions and I don’t even just mean children. I didn’t want anyone telling him they were girl’s shoes, partly because I didn’t want to pay out for shoes for him to then stop wearing them!
It made me wonder whether my job is to teach him about social norms or to make him follow them. Is it important for me to make sure he ‘fits in’ or should I let him find his own path? In the end I realised that it’s another thing to learn and that he should follow his own path and this includes wearing the things he likes.
We went back on to the Livie and Luca website and I filtered the search to find all the shoes (boys and girls) in his size and I let him choose. He was very definite that he wanted a pink pair so I ordered them. His younger brother was indifferent to which ones he would wear so I chose a pair that I like for him.
When the shoes arrived my 4 year old’s face was a picture, it was pure joy as he opened the box and spotted the shoes. He exclaimed “they are so pink and beautiful, I love them!” and immediately put them on. He then showed his Nana via Skype, every person who came to the house and to Gareth when he got in from work.
I feel prepared for anyone who comments, be it a child or adult. I think I’d have more patience with a child and would probably point out that they’re just shoes and anyone can wear them. In fact, I’d probably say the same to an adult but maybe with a little more muttering about ignorance. In a way I’m keen to hear from people who think differently, is part of my job as a parent to help my children to understand social conventions and to stick to them? Or is it OK to let them find out on their own and to make up their own minds?
Sam March 19, 2014 at 9:11 am · Reply →
My Thom loves pink, he had a bright pink pair of peppa pig wellies that he wore everywhere.
Till he started school.
Then the boys told him he was wearing girls shoes. He said to me “mummy, peppa pig is for girls and boys so my shoes aren’t for just girls”
I was heartbroken but from then on he never wore his boots to school. I encouraged him to wear them but he knew he would be made fun of and didn’t want to.
It’s sad that society is like this, but our job is to raise confident, kind and wonderful kids, not kids who fit in. They will get enough of that pressure in life, home should be a safe haven where they can be themselves.
And your lads shoes are BEAUTIFUL! 🙂
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm · Reply →
Thank you lovely, I can imagine Thom in Peppa Pig wellies. W has a Peppa Pig t shirt that he adores. You know how awesome I think your kids are x
kelly Munslow March 19, 2014 at 9:15 am · Reply →
I think it is great that you are letting him have the freedom to choose what he would like to wear. The only time I think I would discourage this is if he was attending school, children find the smallest things to bully each other over (actually adults do the same).
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm · Reply →
Bullying would worry me too, you just want to protect them don’t you?
Eliza_Do_Lots March 19, 2014 at 9:42 am · Reply →
Roman’s favourite colour was pink and he would always pick out his pink t-shirts (neon shades, often with dinosaurs, in your FACE gender specific buttholes) and he had some pink Hello Kitty sunglasses he adored.
Then he started school – and now he shrieks when the pink t-shirts are on the top of the pile and tells me pink is for girls, and dinosaurs are scary.
These are ideas that are so drilled in to the other children that he’s picked up on them in school, despite them all wearing uniforms and having very little individual choice. Shoes for both sexes must be black and most have the school satchel, fleece and book bag – so there’s very little STUFF they take in that could be gender specific for them to express these opinions about.
Still, though, it’s crept into our lives and I often find myself telling him that colours aren’t for girls or boys, colours are for everyone, and you can like whatever you like.
He tells me now that his favourite colour is blue – but he still chooses pinks and reds to colour in more often than the blues until someone comments, then he tells me it’s a picture he’s doing for me, because I’m a girl.
I mentioned on twitter that there was an older boy who wore trousers and shoes in girl’s styles – bell bottom styled trousers with little floral details on the pockets and similar floral details on his mary jane sandals – and his very rugged Dad would proudly drop him off and pick him up every day. I haven’t seen him for weeks – I’m not sure if this is just coincidental, and I’ve just not seen him, or if it’s because he’s changed how he dresses and I don’t spot him in the crowd.
I really, really hope it’s just that I’ve missed him – and not that he’s been teased or coerced into changing how he dresses – or even that he’s left.
I wouldn’t deliberately put my kids in Barbie t-shirts to make a point – but if they PICKED a Barbie t-shirt you can be sure that I’d buy them it and let them wear it whenever they wanted.
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:27 pm · Reply →
I think it is such a shame that children often feel limited in their choice once at school, the pressure from other children is immense, I just hope they hold on to a bit of that individual style.
Rachel @ activities4kidz
Rachel @ activities4kidz March 19, 2014 at 10:33 am · Reply →
My 2yo loves clonking around in my heels, sneaking my lippy out of my bag etc. He loves pushing his dolls puschair with the gruffalo in, playing at being a princess. He has tonnes of pink tops (my very !acho hunby and brother live seeing him in pink, it suits him!). We aren’t bothered what people think. If he is happy, we are happy 🙂
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:24 pm · Reply →
Happy kids are the best type!
Tattooed mummy March 19, 2014 at 10:50 am · Reply →
I’m so glad I have a girl when this conundrum strikes. Girls can get away with wearing”boys”things because being a “tom boy” is cool while being a “sissy” isn’t. Things are improving. But its slow. In answer to your question I think its your job to both encourage individualism and to explain societal norms, children need to know that some people think pink is only for girls, but that you don’t, and not everyone does. Its hard. 🙁 cute shoes though, tell him I love them!
Naomi March 19, 2014 at 6:57 pm · Reply →
I think gender stereotyping is worse for girls, unfortunately more so as a grown up.
The ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ saga is just the start of this negative social conditioning
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:24 pm · Reply →
I think you’re right and I imagine in time the conversation about society norms will come up and it’s something I can talk about.
Rachel Scott March 19, 2014 at 11:57 am · Reply →
Agree with tattooed mummy! x
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:23 pm · Reply →
Stella Branch March 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm · Reply →
It’s strange in the 21st century that these stereotypes exist…advertising doesn’t help either.-..Kinder I’m looking at YOU! – it is a shame as pink is such a joyful colour. He’s young – let him wear what he wants. My teenage girl only wears black and white…
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:23 pm · Reply →
I will make the most of him wanting to wear colour then!
carol` March 19, 2014 at 12:17 pm · Reply →
When he was little I let my son Jeremy pick out boots from a catalog. He picked out pink and white. I bought them, he loved them and wore the, and many people made comments.
along with the people that commented on the fact that he and his brother both had dolls and carriages. My youngest son, now 35 is gay. OMG-I surely caused this with the shoes and dolls!!(LOL)
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:22 pm · Reply →
This made me laugh, I’m glad you allowed them the freedom and I imagine it helped in letting your youngest son to know he could be exactly who he is.
Natalie – Livie & Luca
Natalie – Livie & Luca March 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm · Reply →
I am with you on this one!
I have had numerous emails as to why I sort the shoes on my website by ‘gender’. My answer is that if I try anything else, people complain about their user experience. I obviously have to take this seriously, as people won’t shop with you again if they feel they haven’t had a good experience on your website.
I hate the fact that under the boys section I have the Rex (dino boots) and the Hungry. Alice is having matching boots as her brother – so not a true place for them to sit. On FB, one of my customers also shared a photo of her little boy and daughter wearing the matching hungry. The Rex – with some stripy tights – OMG, how amazing does that look.
So, my question – is how else do you sort them in a retail online environment – keeping the user experience the same for all and not resulting in a backlash of customer complaints about having to look through all of the shoes? We are quirky – so can’t do via colour etc. Something I think about often but have NO idea how to conquer.
If anyone has any ideas on how to over come this from an online retail perspective – I would be very grateful to hear them.
Well done you – for letting him go with his likes. What a wonderful mummy you are (but you know I have always thought that x x).
As always, a great post lovely lady x
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm · Reply →
I like how you organise your shoes and I imagine for a lot of people it helps having them separated into gender. I like that I can just search size and find all of the shoes in that size… boys and girls. And I tell you what, it’s far harder to go into a shoe shop and deal with staff directing little boys to trainers with hideous football pictures on them!
Honest Mum March 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm · Reply →
Such an important post, so tired of society and media defining what our kids should play with, wear and read-goodbye gender specific EVERYTHING and yay for CHOICE, real choice which is what you’ve given your son and those shoes are beautiful, let’s stand up to this together.
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:18 pm · Reply →
It will be good to make things level, gender stereotyping toys is particularly bad, it is a worrying trend.
Ojo Henley March 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm · Reply →
Ooh, this is a tough one for me. I have always been very open to my boys playing with whatever toys they wanted to. Both my boys loved playing shop, but trolleys were always ‘girlie’. I still bought them though, because……who cares?!
However, as they are getting older, I do find myself confused by the whole ‘real men wear pink’ thing……..I just cannot get my head around that! I could simply not imagine my husband in a pink anything! This does seem to be rubbing off on my boys.
Is that a bad thing? I am still unsure. They don’t judge others for wearing it, they just won’t wear it themselves. (Not counting little A in this as he wears what he wants…….mostly nothing!) x
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:18 pm · Reply →
I would say that’s more about your preference though and what you like, you just happen to fancy a man who wouldn’t wear pink but still alllow your kids the freedom to chose.
Miss Tulip March 19, 2014 at 1:06 pm · Reply →
Great post and one I was thinking about writing about this week after seeing a feature on the news! I am really really happy you let your boy get the pink shoes. I hate the whole boy blue girl pink thing. It is wrong and discriminatory in my view. We are in a society where ok to be gay, ok to be of mixed race, and ok to talk about sex- it didn’t used to be that way but now everyone accepts those things because they are ok, for some reason, we still don’t think it is ok for a little boy to wear pink- why the hell not? Makes me fuming! And what about the children who are born hermaphrodites- which colour should they wear because society says they have to be a boy or a girl. And then there’s the whole ‘if a boy plays with girls toys he will turn out gay’. I hates barbies and hates anything girly when I was a child. I played with cars, dinosaurs, bow and arrows etc but they didn’t MAKE me gay. I’ straight and not affected by my childhood choice of toys. Sorry for the rant but I feel strongly about this haha
Miss Tulip x
The Thrifty Magpies Nest
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm · Reply →
It is odd that people link this sort of thing with being homosexual, I can’t help ask about families where they all had a similar upbringing and one of them is gay, if that were the case they all would be.
jo March 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm · Reply →
Well done you for letting your son have his lovely shoes!
1. You probably know that a hundred years ago and more, blue was the colour for girls (what the Renaissance painters used for Virgin Mary’s clothes as the paint came from expensive Lapis Lazuli) and pink was the colour for boys (diluted shade of hunting red which was manly colour),
2. Years ago too, my Dad would go to work in a pink shirt under his smart suit. Many of his colleagues would wear the same.
3. My brother’s games shirt was also pink (though don’t think he would have chosen that colour)
So perhaps your kids could use the history of colour to feel that it’s as much time specific as gender specific. x
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:15 pm · Reply →
It’s really interesting thinking about the history of colour and does help to show that it is a cultural thing.
Capture by Lucy
Capture by Lucy March 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm · Reply →
I have two boys who look lovely in pink, I have a wardrobe full of colour in their bedroom that includes lovely pinks and purples, yellows and matching cerise knitted jumpers from Next. But, whilst I definitely agree there shouldn’t be such terrible stereotypes about gender toys etc I think I would have felt like you did initially at the pink shoes. Not because they are pink because they are clearly the style for a girl. I am all for boys wearing pink and girls wearing blue but I just wish companies would make shoes for both gender in each colour, or better yet a unisex style in different colour ways. My question is I guess, that if he went to a party for one of his friends and wanted to wear a pink dress would you say yes? Girls shoes and boys shoes are different, as are our clothes, so where do you draw the line? Great post to spark such discussion. xx
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm · Reply →
I just had a chat with my husband about this, I do think I would find it harder if they were obviously girl clothes, but having said that I put them in tights and they wear tutus around the house and have worn them outside.
Laughing Owl March 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm · Reply →
Well done you!
A small boy told my 20month old daughter thashe couldn’t play with the tractors in a shop as they were only for boys. It made me sad. Luckily she didn’t understand (and wasn’t bothered as she has tractors at home) and I told him that anyone could play with tractors…
His mum chose not to hear. 🙁
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:13 pm · Reply →
That is so sad, toys really should be toys. I remember not being allowed something because it was for boys, it really impacted on how I felt in terms of what I was and wasn’t allowed to do.
Lesley March 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm · Reply →
Not sure if its correct, but I was told years ago that in Eastern Europe, blue is for girls and pink is for boys.
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:12 pm · Reply →
It is very possible, it is a cultural thing.
Naomi March 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm · Reply →
Lovely post! I have a five month old boy and I hate gender stereotypic in babies clothes- why are baby clothes even classified in ‘boys’ and ‘girls’? They’re BABY clothes!
I dress my boy in all colours including pink and put him in leggings. A friend saw him in these and called them ‘man leggings’. No! They’re baby leggings.
I have drawers full of horrible pastel blue clothes bought from relatives and friends- why blue?
I think it’s lovely that you are letting your son be who he wants to be.
Our children are people, not our possessions and we should respect them as such.
Only when we stop holding on to misconceived notions about gender and stop giving in to social embarrassment will attitudes change.
Who wants their child defined by society rather than themselves? Not me!
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:11 pm · Reply →
It’s a brilliant approach, I’ve probably bought ‘boy’ clothes without even thinking about it, I love that they now say what they like to wear.
Judy March 19, 2014 at 10:44 pm · Reply →
Lovely post. You are my kind of woman Naomi! xx
Siobhan March 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm · Reply →
I think it’s wonderful that you let your son pick out the pink shoes that he wanted, and I wish more people felt comfortable letting their children be themselves.
Now that my son has started school he has so many more ideas about “this is for boys, that is for girls” etc. and it breaks my heart. I want him to be free to be himself, and also to know that it’s ok for others to be themselves as well, even if it breaks away from traditional gender stereotypes.
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:10 pm · Reply →
I would feel the same, it’s so much harder when they have other children telling them it’s wrong.
CaroleHeidi March 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm · Reply →
Artie looks fab in pink and purple and probably wears more of Tori’s cast off clothes than his own on average.
He’s three now and wears them to preschool every week – there have been a few comments but my response is that if they are the clothes that he is comfortable in, then they are the clothes he will wear. He is his own person and if he wants to wear his sister’s old jeans with pink turn-ups and flowers on the pockets then so be it. Likewise he is obsessed with Thomas the Tank and Cars so usually teams the pink with those!
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:10 pm · Reply →
Have the comments been from adults or children? I’d want to protect him from comments, it is hard.
Laura @ Kneadwhine
Laura @ Kneadwhine March 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm · Reply →
They are gorgeous shoes.
I have to be honest, I really struggle with this. More than I want to. D asked for a ladybird bag once and I said no, moved the topic on and he ended up with a Mike the Knight bag in the end.
I feel pretty bad for that.
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:08 pm · Reply →
I can understand, I did have to fight my instinct to say no, it took me standing back and thinking about it to change my mind.
Michelle Willis March 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm · Reply →
I think those shoes are ok for a boy. I wouldn’t say they’re particularly a girly pair. I see nothing wrong with boys wearing pink. I put Flower’s baby tights on Bear because it was so cold when he was born. No one noticed.
Corinne March 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm · Reply →
Tights are great for keeping little baby boys and girls warm.
Judy March 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm · Reply →
My lovely godson in Cornwall was madly attached to a pair of pink tights when he was about 4. Loved them. Doesn’t wear a lot of pink now but he is a cool dresser.
My daughter runs a school. A couple of boys there (brothers) are very keen on wearing dresses and their mother is cool with that. Let them go with what they want – there is nothing ‘gay’ or otherwise about a child’s choices – it’s just what they feel happy with so let them go with it. Who are you scared of? Other parents’ derision? Be better than that: for heaven’s sake, pink is only a colour. Why worry about it? My generation have been mods/hippies/totally peacocks and the teen boys then wore all colours of the rainbow. Bring it on and enjoy.
Corinne March 20, 2014 at 9:11 am · Reply →
This is definitely the attitude to have, I was more worried about other adult’s comments but am feeling prepared for them now!
Jenny March 20, 2014 at 11:01 am · Reply →
I believe gender stereotyping is awful for everyone. Nobody wins. It breaks my hearts seeing boys, a bit older than yours, being all macho and having to be tough and cool , and for girls having to be pretty and attractive. It infuriates me when people tell my three year old she is pretty, because they are not doing her any favours or being kind, they are only making her aware of the fact that people judge her for the way she looks. Her value is in who she is, not in her looks or her achievements. When it comes to colours, at the beginning of the 1900 pink was considered a suitable colour for boys, as it was thought to be a clear and strong colour. Girls were supposed to wear light blue which was thought to be sheer and pretty. So these societal norms have nothing to do with DNA or biology or whatever else excuse people come up with. I beleive it has gotten alot worse in the last 20 years, which of course is affected by the fact that people have children later on in life, after having established a career. Parents with small children have greater spending power than they used to have, and what better way to make us spend more money on or kids than making sure that parents have to provide sons and daughters with everything different? I think you are teaching your son to trust in himself and his own choices by not telling him he shouldn’t like what he likes because he’s a boy. He’s not in the wrong, everyone else is. So good on you!
Corinne March 20, 2014 at 5:07 pm · Reply →
Thank you for your great comment, I love hearing such passion and you make perfect sense.
Mairhai March 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm · Reply →
On my computer the color of those shoes are NOT pink but in the purple shade. Might be different in live time? I’ve seen boys’ athletic uniforms with such colors at times either on the bottom pants or on the shirt tops or affixed as stripes on pants or tops. Never worried me.
Corinne March 21, 2014 at 8:59 am · Reply →
They are a kind of deep pink, bordering on purple 🙂
Mrs Teepot March 22, 2014 at 3:05 pm · Reply →
This is a really interesting post, and something I’m struggling with on a personal level, not with children; whether I should be fighting to fit in or happy as I am.
In my opinion it is your job as a parent to encourage them to be themselves and to give them the tools to deal with closed minded people who think they should ‘fit in’. As far as that goes I think you’re doing a great job.
Corinne March 22, 2014 at 10:16 pm · Reply →
I would always say be yourself if you can, not always easy but it’s never easy to fit in when you don’t (I never really have).