Pink is Just a Color and so is Blue……
When my younger was 3, he loved the color pink. I bought him a Dora doll, a stroller and a couple of other dolls he asked for. While in preschool, he wanted My Little Pony, Littlest Petshop and Zoobles, which apparently were marketed mostly to girls. Then one day, I heard my older son telling my younger one that he was “like a girl” because he liked the color pink and enjoyed playing with the kitchen toys . After hearing him taunt his brother, I had to have a serious talk with him. In my mind, teasing like this is what leads to bullying later.
I tried to explain to my older son that they are just toys and pink was just a color like red or blue. I told him how he also liked the color pink when he was little. I needed him to understand that toys and colors did not define who children are. Colors were just colors, and toys were just a way for young children to learn about the bigger world around them. We even talked about how their father loved to cook, so what was the big deal about a little boy playing with the kitchen set.
My two boys became the inspiration for my book, Pink is Just a Color and so is Blue which is available exclusively on Amazon.com.
Anti-bullying and anti-teasing education often starts in middle school. Unfortunately, by this age, many kids already have an engrained set of beliefs and ideals. Research shows that children’s personalities are set by the time they are 5. They have already built a sense of what is right and wrong by the time they are about 10. Teaching kids to be accepting, open minded and tolerant should begin when they are 3, 4 and 5 not 10, 11, 12. If they learn young that we don’t all have to fit into a mold, they will become better “tweenagers” and teenagers.
Pink is Just a Color and so is Blue hopes to break some of the old gender stereotypes about children’s toys and gender specific colors. Why should the play kitchen be considered a “girly” toy. Aren’t most chef men? Don’t we want our boys to be nurturing dads and husbands? So what is the big deal with little boys wanting dolls and stroller? Why are all toys for little girls aimed at making them domestic divas or princesses in the land of all things pretty and pink? Don’t we expect that our little girls should grow to be confident, independent and strong women one day? So why limit them in play with fashion, easy bake ovens and everything from the land of enchantment?
I don’t have girls but growing up I mowed the lawn, helped my father paint and put in pre-glued tiles. I was athletic and loved sports of all kinds. Most of my best friends in college were men. Today, I love to cook and take care of my boys. But I can also figure out how to fix the chain link in a toilet tank! And I still love to paint!
When my older son was little, I bought a kitchen set for him to play with. If the look on my husband’s face could kill!!! He couldn’t understand why I would buy such a toy for our son. I had to remind him that he was a great cook himself! When our boys were little, he helped to change diapers, bathe them and feed them. To me, that made him a greater man!
I did a little research online to find out more about where the whole notion of pink and blue came from. In the early 1900’s, all the big fashion magazines promoted the color pink as a great color for men. Being a shade of red, it was considered strong and masculine. Blue on the other hand, was thought to be cool and dainty, and as such, a great color for women!
A little know but very interesting fact about the color pink dates back to the Nazis. Yes THE Nazis. During WWII, the Nazis captured millions of prisoners. In order to keep track of them all, they established a color coding system. We all know that the Jews were forced to wear a yellow Star of David on them at all times. It was sewn onto their prison uniforms in the camps.
A whole series of color coded inverted triangles, pointing downward, allowed camp officials to identify the “crimes” for which the prisoners were incarcerated. For instance, political prisoners wore red triangles, emigrants wore blue triangles, real criminals wore green triangles, Jehovah’s wore purple triangles, and “asocial women (lesbian) wore black triangles. And finally, the pink inverted triangles identified those the Nazis thought to be gay!!
It wasn’t until as late as the 1980’s that pink for girls and blue for boys became a widely accepted norm in our society. Except for the Nazi reference, many interesting facts are included at the end of Pink is Just a Color and so is Blue on a special “Did You Know? Page. There is also a page full of discussion questions and activities for parents and teachers.
Pink is Just a Color and so is Blue is not a book I want parents and kids to read and then forget about. One of the main lessons I want readers to come away with is that so many of our societal norms and ideals change over time. There was a time when the woman’s place was in the kitchen. But that’s not the case anymore. There was a time when only men wore pants or only women took care of the kids. There was also a time when wristwatches were considered too feminine and real men carried pocket watches. Today, men sport wrist watches not only as a fashion statement but also as a status symbol. Gender roles are changing and so should our attitudes about what it means to be a man or a woman.
Pink is indeed a beautiful color… and so is blue. But what is it about our society, that we have this need to put everything in nice little boxes? Why do we have a need to label and categories everything! Why can’t we just let our kids be kids? Let them play explore and learn more about themselves and their world. Isn’t our ultimate goal as parents to assure that our children grow up to be self confident, happy, secure and productive men and women?
If we as adults become more open-minded, then a positive, unbiased attitude will automatically permeate into our kids. Maybe our children will be more tolerant and accepting of each other and see individual differences as something to celebrate… rather than ridicule. When kids are accepting, they are less likely to tease or bully. So let’s spread the message that toys are just toys… and Pink is Just a Color and so is Blue!!!!
Pink is Just a Color and so is Blue is available exclusively on Amazon.com