As printed in my new Lifestyle Column for The Daily Echo...As 70s kids we wore mostly brown and orange. Lego was only produced in primary colours, and bikes were generally red. We played with whatever we wanted and pink was just another colour. Boys often sported long hair, girls often didn’t; we were free just to be; to be ourselves.
Fast-forward some decades and pink has become the epitome of femininity, used to market everything. In supermarket baby aisles, the boys’ section swims in a sea of baby blue and the girls’ in pink. It’s a commercial no-brainer for retailers to offer best-selling clothes and pink outsells other pastels. But perhaps this is because of the lack of alternative choice? Why not add other colours and represent the full spectrum of what it means to be a child, without limitations? Some children like stuff that fits the stereotype but some don’t. Do children really need to be restricted and told what to like before they can even walk?
Children are increasingly polarised into stereotyped boxes and told what they should like. Signs above toys and clothes say boys must like dinosaurs and vehicles and girls must like princesses and butterflies. But what if they don’t? Some children are deciding not to wear stuff labelled as for the opposite sex for fear of being teased. That’s so limiting for children.
As parents we can buy their clothes from the other aisle, and we do but, the point is, we shouldn’t have to.
There’s nothing wrong with pink princesses, but there’s so much more to girls than that. Equally, there’s nothing wrong with snarling Marvel characters, but there’s so much more to boys than that.
Retailers should not abolish pink or princesses though. They are loved by many and we want retailers to provide more choice not less.
The good news is retailers are listening. LetToysBeToys persuaded many to remove gender signage telling boys to play with trucks and girls with dolls. A couple of weeks ago, representing LetClothesBeClothes, I met with Mothercare who, already leading the way with Jools Oliver’s unisex LittleBird range have made some promising promises (#watchthisspace).
After meeting with Tesco’s F&F they’ve agreed to make girls clothes more practical over pretty, with longer shorts and robust cardigans. Let’s hope we’re moving towards a sea-change back to that playful, expressive era of freedom of choice where children can just be themselves.
THIS is a copy of my brand new column in The Daily Echo - Choice Words where I'll be writing about gender related issues and how to help our children to flourish in today's world.
Climbing Trees were also proud to be included as the lead feature in last week's Echo