Pink vs. Blue, or How Convention Defeated Mom

by Marina Leyenson

I consider myself a very lucky parent, because my children in my opinion are very easy going. There is very little drama when it comes to my kids’ daily life (except maybe when it’s meal time, but that is a whole different story). When it comes to clothes, I’ve heard and sympathized with a friend who was driven up the wall with the daily wardrobe wars, all the while thinking to myself how great that my little darlings will put on anything I give them.

I have an 8 year old daughter, who I love dressing up since before she was born. I consider myself a not-so-traditional parent when it comes to clothes. I dislike the girls-are-pink and boys-are-blue way of thinking. I love bright colors, so my daughter’s clothes are always in variety of bright colors with an occasional pink mixed in.

When my son was born, almost 6 years ago, I realized that my bright color clothes scheme will be much more challenging to uphold. There was some pastel variety in the baby section. But once he moved on to toddlerhood, it became obvious that the idea that boys might enjoy bright color pallet was not supported by the fashion industry. If you go in to a children’s clothing store and look at the colors only, you would immediately be able to tell which side is boys and which is girls. Girls are treated like little porcelain dolls with all the pretty pink green and purple. On the other hand boys have been thrown back to Great Depression era, where males had to go out and do lots of dirty manual labor so the clothes had to be dark to conceal all the dirt and grime of their miserable lives. There is a place for navy blues, grays and browns, and I have nothing against these colors in particular (except may be for gray), but why a toddler or a 5 year old in the 21st century is relegated to that color pallet. I have to admit, it gotten a bit better for boys in a last couple of years, with bright graphic tees becoming popular.


However, it took a lot of effort to find bright, colorful clothes for my son in the first 4 years of his life. I never shined away from pinks and purples and greens that are normally branded as “girl” colors. My husband did not always approve, but he is a big fan of dirt and dust colors himself, being that he did grow up around a time of Great Depression (in minds, not in economy).

I thought that I beat the societal conventions and thought my children embraced the bright and unconventional. My daughter never paid attention to what she was wearing at all. Whatever I put on her, as long as it was comfortable, was good to go. She did express her opinion twice when she was about 6. She said she hated gray, which I totally supported, and she expressed a desire to wear more of the twirly skirts and dresses, because she love the movement.

My son on the other hand was a good little fashion soldier all his life. I thought he fully embraced my love of variety and color until this summer. All of a sudden, he refused to wear a pink polo shirt that he proudly sported all previous summer. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me it was pink. My daughter and I immediately pointed out that boys wear pink all the time. He can look at his daddy and uncle, who both wear pink and purple shirts to work (all the pink and purple shirts in my husband’s closet do come as gifts from my brother, who is happily married, I might add, but did not grow up at the time of the Great Depression). The statement had no effect at all. He still, however, agreed to wear dark purple t-shirts with matching socks. I thought, that it was perhaps a temporary fluke and it had past, but couple of days ago he became adamant that he has to retake his school photo, because the shirt he put on that day, has pink in it. No argument I can offer on the validity of pink in man’s wardrobe is helping. He would not fess up as to the origin of this strong dislike. It can be that he is trying to associate himself with older boys, and in his opinion pink does not fit the image of a big boy. It can be coming from some friends in school. I don’t know the origin, but I am not giving up. But at this time it seems that societal conventions have won this round.

Convention: 1; Mom: 0.

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