Let’s get one thing straight once and for all: I don’t have a problem with the colour PINK. I don’t HATE the thing – in fact, I rather like some shades of it, and when it comes to clothes, pink always takes me to this gloriously girly Luella collection (which interestingly doesn’t feature much pink) and this Meadham Kirchhoff look which was solely responsible for making me believe fashion styling was a worthy profession (I don’t believe in that anymore, though..*sigh*).
What I hate is the commercial dictatorship of pink enforced by companies wanting to profit on archaic notions of gender. These days I take for granted the notion of little girls being more than just pink fairy princesses (they have brains, don’t they?), but then I get confronted with things like this and this more often than not, and it makes my heart sink.
Last weekend I came across the latest Olivia the Pig book, “Olivia and The Fairy Princesses” and it made me laugh out loud because it touches this very problem in Olivia’s quirky style. I got into the Olivia’s books for obvious reasons (it’s my daughter’s name, if you’re new here), and I fell in love with her imaginative, bold personality. She is very much herself all the time (to her mum’s constant dismay) and she is constantly challenging the status quo. It was a breath of fresh air to see a mainstream character act like a decent role model.
This time she goes through an “identity crisis” because everyone she knows wants to wear pink princess dresses and be a PINK FAIRY PRINCESS. Oh, the challenge of not fitting in. I went through the same crisis around the age of 10, and soon found out that the only way to stand out (and be noticed by boys) was to be different, and it all started with my sartorial choices. For a party, Olivia chooses a “simple French sailor shirt, matador pants, black flats, a strand of pearls, sunglasses, a red bag, and my gardening hat”, while everyone else goes as fairy princesses. ISN’T SHE BRILLIANT?
Girls should be encouraged to explore their idiosyncrasies, their creative side, instead of being pushed into the nearest Disney store (although, to be fair, the other day I passed by a Disney store and saw that half the princess dolls were wearing blue and yellow… is Disney picking up on this too?)
I was also happy to find this website called Pink Stinks, started by mums Abi and Emma Moore, who were “becoming increasingly alarmed by overtly gender-segregated, sexist products aimed at young children. ”
At the time, Abi was making a film for CNN about US scientist Naomi Hallas, who was doing some amazing work on using nano technology to find a cure for cancer. Abi’s return to the UK coincided with the press furore surrounding the release from prison of Paris Hilton for drink-driving offences. Intensely frustrated by the blanket press coverage of this non-event, this was the last straw for Abi and Emma. Pinkstinks was born.
Isn’t it revolting? That was in 2008, and 4 years later things are not changing much (or at the speed they should be). But Abi and Emma run campaigns and endorse products that go against this negative, stereotypical segregation of girls through pink, and there are loads of options for us mums fighting against this plague. As the mum of a little girl, I feel now this is my own personal battle. Will you be joining me?