Why Can’t Boys Wear (Insert Color Here)?

BigBrother’s preschool has a color of the month. Every month, they focus on a color. One day each month, the kids are to wear that color to school. BigBrother thinks this is fun. He enjoys putting the color on when we get dressed and telling me about the other kids wearing the same color after school. It’s been fine and dandy. Until the last two months.

February was pink month. March has been purple month.

I’ll be honest. Prior to these two months, BigBrother didn’t own anything pink or purple. I’m not a particularly pastel person myself. I normally go for bold colors when shopping for myself. (Or, really, green.) The same for the boys. But I found a nice pink polo for him last month and a nice lavendar button up for this past Tuesday. See?

Doesn’t he look handsome? (Yes, the purple shirt was featured in yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday photograph which I might frame for the wall.) The pink shirt especially brought out his rosy cheeks.

When he came home from school on Thursday, I asked him if everyone in his class wore purple. He said, “No, just K.” (I also know that another girl had purple on but it wasn’t a “true” purple, more of a fuschia, so it may have confused him.) Some backround info about his class: three girls, eight boys. And, so, similar to last month, he was the only boy sporting the color of the month.

This drives me somewhat insane.

Why do we need to teach boys as young as three that they can’t wear certain colors? Why do we need them to be macho at such a young age? Should I have dressed him in navy blue and sent him to school grunting instead? Thankfully it sounds like no teasing occurred. But will it next year (he’ll be in the same class)? Or the following year when he moves up to the older class? When will he learn from other kids that “real men” don’t wear pink?

We started out with gender neutral toys. He gravitated toward all things wheeled. Fine. We still have dolls and a kitchen (the latter of which my youngest son thinks is the bees knees). We read books about both genders. And until he brings it up, we’re not going to say that pink is a girl’s color. He’s got too much other stuff to worry about right now. Like sounding out words, coloring and running happily through his yard.

This whole concept makes me just as mad as when girls are told that they can’t “be” something when they grow up because it is a “man’s job.” Or how my friend’s daughter was made fun of for always wearing shirts with dinosaurs. Since when did dinosaurs become solely a boy’s toy and topic of interest? Why do we feel the need to tell boys and girls what they can and cannot like, can and cannot wear and can and cannot be? Why can’t we just let them make those decisions for themselves?

I know we all raise our families differently. I know we all have different goals in mind. But I can’t find one reason why a boy can’t wear a pink shirt. My grandfather has always owned and worn pastel colored shirts and he’s one of the most handsome men I know. And then there was the time my Dad wore a pink vest to my brother’s wedding. He looked smashing. These are some of the “manliest, macho men” I know… and they’re fine with it.

And hopefully our sons will be as well.

(FireDad approves this message. While I’m still not sure I could bribe him into a pink vest for either of our sons’ weddings, he happily told BigBrother how handsome he looked in his shirts. And he meant it. He’s a good guy, no?)

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31 Comments

  1. I could not agree more!!! It is so true! I have no idea. My son has a doll – a GIRL doll. Mostly we got him a girl because I objected to the idea that the only way a boy could have a doll was if it was a boy. Now, she came dressed in pink but is now sporting a Rangers jersey – but that is because he plays with her enough to have multiple outfits for her. She has a bed – it was a crib when he was a baby and became a bed when he got one. Now, he loves trains and hockey and “boy” things too. But my point is why does everyone have to give us so much flack for letting him play with a doll. He likes her isn’t that good enough. As for the colors it is ridiculous!!! Although, on a side note – I think March should have been green month. What with St Paddy’s day and all. :) I agree that he looks great in his pink and purple though. Go here – http://ourlifeupstate.blogspot.com/2009/03/purple-overalls.html – to see my son sporting th e cutest little purple outfit I ever saw. :)

    Upstatemomof3s last blog post..Literacy Thursday – Goodnight Moon

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    • @Upstatemomof3, I would have thought the same about St. Patrick’s Day but I believe green was their first color (thinking back). Something about red and green lights.

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  2. this whole gender thing annoys me greatly. god forbid i ever dress my daughter in something NOT PINK. the other day we went out to lunch and she was wearing black pants and a gender-neutral shirt from carter’s – beige, white, and black with a little raccoon on it, says “bandit.” she was also wearing her pink robeez and her earrings. and oh em gee, i overheard two different tables discussing whether or not she was a boy or a girl! “but she MUST be a girl, she’s got little earrings and pink shoes!” “but he’s wearing black. little girls don’t wear black, only little boys do.”

    she’s also really into this book on dinosaurs and playing with trucks. i guess should spike her hair and dress her in plaid flannel and combat boots or something.

    Mama Beans last blog post..blabber.

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  3. Interestingly enough, this topic came up at my therapy session last week. My therapist was telling me that she sees a family where the little boy is being ostracized BY HIS PARENTS because his favorite color is pink. He’s four. Honestly, kids have no concept of gender for the most part, until they are much older (7 & 8), even if they understand that there are girls and boys. I thought, for the longest time, that I was going to grow up and have a penis. Because I had an older brother and he had one… why would I not get one too? Things like this make me feel sad for future generations. I feel old when I say that I wish things could be like they were back in my days of childhood, but it’s true – things were MUCH more simple.

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  4. Our preschool does this too. Today was green day. My daughter is the only girl with 6 boys. Not even all of the boys wore green which is a boy color. It might be that some kids just don’t participate no matter what the color. I know we forgot on yellow month. Some people may not want to go buy a pink or purple shirt if they don’t already have one. I do agree with you though that we should not start with telling our kids what they should and should not like. I love that my princess obsessed daughter asked for a car for Christmas.

    Christys last blog post..Princess Katherine

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    • @Christy, Green is a boy color? Someone forgot to tell me. I don’t think I’ve bought anything that wasn’t green for myself in… over a year. Even my bathing suit for this year has green!

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      • @FireMom, Sorry – not too clear in my comment. I did not mean by saying that “green is a boy color” that it is exclusively a boy color and that girls don’t wear it. All three girls in my house have green clothes. I just meant that it is a color that boys do wear a lot of. So, I thought it odd in light of your post that boys would not participate on green day. There was no “excuse” of the color of the month not being manly enough.

        Christys last blog post..Princess Katherine

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  5. This is something that constantly frustrates me. I love boys in pink. For some kiddos (your son included) pink can really bring out there very best.

    There’s a pink shirt at Children’s Place I’m planning to buy just as soon as they put it on sale. I’m guessing my little man will be able to rock the pink as well as his daddy (when I can convince daddy to wear it).

    -Abby

    abbyjesss last blog post..Empathy

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    • @abbyjess, I’m giggling at how you’re waiting for it to go on sale. A woman after my own heart. I hate paying full price. Ever.

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  6. When I was little I was devastated when my cousins told me that purple was a boy’s color and it couldn’t be my favorite.

    I’m never telling my kids that something like COLORS are gender specific, that’s just asking for stereotypes that they don’t need so early in life.

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  7. Same thing happened to my son. We found a couple of t-shirts of his older sisters that had more of a straightforward cut, and passed ‘em on… one is rose and labeled “sweetheart,” which is accurate. The other’s more hot pink. It threw off Miss Mary, but they’re in the rotation now.
    It helps that his father and beloved uncle wear pink shirts. We get compliments; Chicks dig ‘em.

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  8. Lol. I work at the Children’s Place so it amuses me when people look forward to our year-round sales (I work an outlet).

    You know, only one hundred years ago, it was recommended that we dress boys in pink and girls in blue. Pink wasn’t considered soft, but blue was. It’s amazing how it somehow changed in such extreme directions.

    My father’s one of those conservatives who wants clear gender roles. If I ever got married, for example, I can only have female bridesmaids. >.< And boys who played with girly toys were questionable. I love him, but he can be frustrating.

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    • @Jen, I’m going to a CP outlet next week (2.5 hour drive) and probably still won’t buy anything full price there. I just don’t do it. Laugh all you want. I don’t “do” full price. :)

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  9. I agree completely. My boyfriends kids are completely pink obsessed. I am not a big fan of pink at all, so I think I am the only one who has given them an honest opinion on their clothes a all.
    They have asked me a few times for my opinion on their bright pink clothes and I tell them that I don’t really like pink so no I don’t like it. I am always sure to let them know it’s ok if they like the clothes though.

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  10. Haha, this is interesting. When I was young, in first school, I really hated pink (I’m a girl) and loved to bring my toy dinosaurs to school, when all my friends brought in their Barbies. I wasn’t teased or anything, but my interest in dinos has never waned… I’m going to uni next year to study geology (includes palaeontology). I’ve had people say to me, more notably a friend’s mum “why do you want to do geology? Won’t you get your nails dirty? Your hair will be all messed up!” I just gave her a blank look, as these thoughts hadn’t even crossed my mind!

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  11. Got here from StumbleUpon. I’m a father to two beautiful daughters, and this prejudice about colour works the other way too. Funnily enough, we were told on the Ultrasound that my eldest daughter would be a boy. Everyone gave us blue everything! Then when we used it (naturally enough), everyone kept telling me how beautiful my son was. This is how ingrained the cultural assumption is, at least in Australia. I think it’s hard for boys because somehow wearing pink denotes that you’re gay and sadly in our society that invites violence. Even I wouldn’t buy a pink business shirt when they were on special … but I’ve changed my mind on this because a friend of mine bought them on principle because he hates paying for work clothes, and he looks great in them.

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  12. Hi, my son (now a big boofy 22yrs old) had dollies to play with and was gentle (to the point where I was sure he was gay). He’s engaged to be married to a lovely lass soon and he’s 6ft and covered in tats (not my choice) he’s still gentle and yet manages to get into enough strife to keep us occupied oh, and he wears pink. I love him to bits and wouldn’t change anything about him. By the way, I helped him move house and he still has his teddies and his doll…. tucked away in a big plastic box, but they’re still with him!

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  13. One of my counterparts from work was here meeting with us this week. He’s an ex-pro football (Euro football, aka soccer) player, living in the UK.

    He was sporting some very fashionable (and decidedly UNAmerican shoes, for a man) with jeans and an dark purple sweater with fuschia diamonds in the argyle pattern.

    I thought to myself – now what aren’t American men “man” enough to dress like that? WHy isn’t it cool here?

    On the plus side, Wrangler has a promo going where it’s cool for real cowboys to wear pink. I think a portion of those sales goes to breast cancer research or awareness. So thumbs up for the western wear marketing execs!

    StorkWatchers last blog post..Pete is Fixed!

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  14. Don’t buy into gender roles! Let kids like whatever they want!

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  15. Sadly, I missed out on the whole “little boy” experience. But my girls have trains and trucks and wear “boy” shirts that I just can’t pass up. I played just as much with my Matchbox cars and I did with my Barbies growing up. And you know what? Being able to speak their language helped me be friends with the boys on the playground…and being friends with them later sure didn’t hurt! ;) But seriously, it isn’t just about gender roles and finding an angle, it’s about letting your child play with whatever they want or express themselves however their comfortable.

    Katie in MAs last blog post..A little like Alice in Wonderland

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  16. My MIL used to get really bothered when I dressed my baby girl in blue, especially navy. I bought her a warm and cozy winter coat (navy blue and red) when she was three. MIL got her a different one with fur around the hood because it was more “feminine.” The girl was three, for heavens sakes, and wore a pink tutu around the house! She had plenty of opportunities to be girly — if she so chose.
    By the way, the girl is now 22 and a healthy, confident young woman. Don’t try to beat her knowledge of pro football, either; she’s a Green Bay Packer fan.

    Daisys last blog post..See you in my dreams!

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    • @Daisy, I was almost on her side until you said Green Bay. I mean, at least you didn’t say Cleveland. So, I guess I’ll forgive her! (Sounds like my kind of girl!!)

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  17. I hate pink, and when we have a girl, will do my best not to pay for anything in that color.

    However, I LOVE PURPLE! And there aren’t any boy clothes in purple anywhere. I remember getting Jack an Eeyore track suit that was purple. When I got it home, I realized there were pink butterflies on it. I still had him wear it – he was 9 months old.

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    • @Robyn, I don’t know if your little man can yet fit into boys (not toddlers) size 4/5. If so, Walmart (of all places) has those lavender button down shirts. We were super shocked to find it there!

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  18. Your son is going to be so grateful that you decided his elementary school wardrobe was the venue in which you would make your stand against arbitrary gender role color assignment.

    When he’s six years old and getting his butt kicked up and down the schoolyard for wearing pink all the time he’ll certainly be thinking, ‘at least i’m doing my part to challenge pointless gender norms in this country!’

    And for the next 8 to 12 years I’m sure he’ll be proud to answer to any of the dozen nicknames he’s going to acquire for having made such a bold playground statement.

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    • @yeah, Considering your email is president@whitehouse.gov you would already know about how the gender assignment of blue and pink was reversed in history. Certainly you’re also aware that pink is in the top 3 colors for business shirts for males. And of course you also know, since you should have a reading comprehension above that of my preschooler, that my child is not in elementary school but, as I said repeatedly, in preschool. Furthermore, if you have any sense about you, Fake President, you might also be aware that your need for anonymous lashing out is an indication of deeper issues and you should likely seek professional help. Because, really? To get so worked up over something that has no affect on your life is somewhat silly, don’t you think?

      Don’t you have some official business to attend to, Fake President? Or at least your own children to be parenting? And, if the answer to the latter question is no, well, then you can be shutting your mouth entirely.

      Have a splendid day!

      Reply
  19. Okay, so I already gave my opinion on this but I wanted to tell you this funny thing that happened to me today. My daughter was wearing an old pair of my son’s pajamas (hey – why should I buy new when I have and she looks great in blue). So, I answer the door for one of my daycare families (they obviously know that my daughter is a girl) and the dad took one look at her in all blue and said, “Hey there, how’s it going big guy?” I was cracking up. That is how much we think blue equals boy. He knew she was a girla nd he still saw boy when she was in blue. Crazy huh?

    Upstatemomof3s last blog post..Green for St Patrick’s Day

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  20. Grr, I get all kinds of grouchy about the ridiculous girl/boy distinctions people make, whether it’s colors, toys, activities, etc. What’s especially stupid about the color issue is that few people realize that as recently as the turn of the last century, the girl/boy colors were reversed in our culture. Pink was seen as the stronger, more masculine attached to baby boys, and light blue was the more delicate, feminine color associated with baby girls. It’s just all so arbitrary.

    Heathers last blog post..Someone Send Help!

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