When I found out my second child was a girl, I asked my parents and in-laws not to buy her pink clothes. I knew we’d get loads of pink from other people (who I can’t dictate to) and I didn’t want her to have nothing but. There are so many colours. It’s reductive to dress little girls in only pink and little boys in only blue. Plus, it just has so many connotations. That she’s cute and sweet and decorative, rather than smart and brave and brilliant. No thanks.
I dress her in all sorts – her brother’s hand-me-downs, beautiful girly outfits people have given us as gifts, and everything in between. Whenever I’m out shopping and she needs something, I stand in front of that sea of pink and purple, looking at all those love hearts and butterflies, and then I often sidle over to the (much smaller) boys’ section and buy her trousers with bears on or a pack of vests in green and orange. Why are bears and bright colours the domain of the boys, for Christ’s sake?
And yes, people often think she’s a boy when we’re out and about and no, I don’t much care.
A few weeks ago, I was in Tesco and thought I’d pick up some leggings for her. I was faced with pink, pink and more pink. Baby pink. Hot pink. Every bloody shade of pink you can imagine. And nothing else. I tweeted them, there and then. Our conversation went like this:
Me: Trying to buy my daughter some non-pink leggings in Tesco. It’s like I’m after the holy grail. Come ON!
Tesco: Sorry about that! Were you able to find any in the end?
Me: Nope. Every multipack had at least one pink pair, and I was in a huge store. My daughter is worth more than this sexist bullshit.
Tesco: If you’re looking for a non-pink pair, we have several options online. I hope this helps.
Me: Thanks. There are a few, yes, but I want her to grow up in a world where non-pink isn’t the exception. Not entirely Tesco’s fault, though.
I went online, searched a range of different retailers. And I got more and more angry with each one. I didn’t want frills at the bottom. I didn’t want glitter. And I certainly didn’t want studs up the side. My daughter is one. She is a happy, active little girl. She isn’t a mini adult or something to be looked at. She wants to climb and crawl and get dirty. She needs clothes that are designed to be more practical than pretty.
Next had exactly what I wanted. Reasonably priced leggings in a wide range of bright colours. I put four pairs in my basket, and got a message to say they were all out of stock. They had pink, though.
Last weekend, we were at a theme park. My daughter spent a lot of time strapped in the buggy, so when we got to the soft play area, I took her out and tried to encourage her to go on the bouncy castle. But she wanted to sit in front of it, instead, trying to eat the other kids’ shoes. She picked up a blue pair that had flashing lights on the sides, the exact pair my son used to have. A nearby dad said to her ‘You could have some like that in pink.’ And the shame of it is, thanks to the lack of options, she probably bloody will.
Laura is a writer who lives in Leicestershire with her husband and their two children. When she’s not writing or reading, she can usually be found trying to get her son to put his shoes on, encouraging her daughter to sleep past 5am or moving small items from one room to another. You can follow her on Twitter and on her blog about getting cancer when she was pregnant.