“What’s your favorite color,” the Little Kidlet asked me as he sat on the toilet. (We have a lot of conversations while he’s trying to go)
“Not pink?” I suppose I made a weird face, because immediately he looked ashamed and said, “I said something wrong, didn’t I?”
As a little girl, I liked pink. I still do, but it isn’t my favorite color. I mostly wear black and the one color that’s prevalent is teal. I tend to buy accessories with it without even thinking. Heck, I dyed my hair teal.
But pink? I have some obnoxious running socks in hot pink, and a sports bra. But I also have socks in neon green and purple. And another sports bra in light blue. I don’t really have much of anything that’s pink at all.
So I took a deep breath. “Why do you think my favorite color is pink?”
“Because pink is a girl color.”
From there I had the usual conversation about how colors are colors. There aren’t any colors that are boy colors or girl colors. Yes, the usual conversation. It’s one I’ve had with his older brother, countless times.
And you want to know why? It isn’t because of anything they’re taught at school, or anything they’ve learned from their family. I wouldn’t even say it’s because of their friends at school- I’ve met a lot of the kids they know. The Oldest Kidlet plays Star Wars with Little Geek Girl (whose favorite color is “leopard print”). The Little Kidlet is fine with playing house with one of the girls in his class, so long as he gets to be the Ninja Turtle.
I feel comfortable saying that it’s because of the commercials they see. Toys with girls in the commercials? Everything is pink and purple. Anything with boys uses the rest of the color spectrum. And despite all my hard work to teach them that you can play with whatever toy you want, that Star Wars and other geeky things are for girls too (that one was easy since I like Star Wars, Pirates, LEGOs and video games) and that boys like My Little Pony, too… those damn commercials undo all the work that I do.
I see so many people shrug off complaints about gender bias in children’s advertising- and complaints about how deeply it affects younger children, too. But when you look at my two boys- at five and nearly seven, and they know all the names of Disney Channel shows that they don’t watch but see ads for between the shows we do watch, as well as brand names and jingles for about a dozen toys we’ve never owned… it works. It does affect them.
And yes, I am fighting it all the way.
How do you handle conversations about gender roles with your kids?