Pinkification is a term coined by the team behind the UK based Pink Stinks campaign. It’s used to describe – “the products, media and marketing that prescribe heavily stereotyped and limiting roles to young girls.” While all this sounds a tad militant, I have to admit they have a point. When trawling through the toy section of any department store or the mecca that is Toys R Us, I often find myself wading knee deep in torrents of fairy floss pink confection. And yes – often the girls toys reinforce those dreadful gender stereotypes. Barbie “can be anything”, just as long as she is wearing stillettos and a mini-skirt while she’s being it. ( Seriously – Doctor Barbie comes in red stillettos, a pink mini and white coat accessorised with a stethoscope.) I’ve always thought of myself as being media savy but glancing through the Pink Stink website is bringing on my own personal case of pinkification. My face is turning an ever deepening shade of crimson with embarassment because P1 embodies everything this crowd are railing against. Worse still its probably all my fault!
My five year old is more than just “sugar and spice”, she’s glitz and sequins, tulle and lace. Nothing is too ornate. Infact too much bling is barely enough. This girl could give Mr T a run for his money. Until very recently, if it wasn’t pink she wouldn’t wear it. Sometimes she would condescend to wear purple or orange but never, ever blue! On many occasions she would refuse to leave the house without a tiara. We have one for every day of the week and a few spares. At her daycare the kids are all required to wear caps in the playground. P1 simply slips her tiara over the brim of the hat. Its a sight which I find quite amusing but I’m sure the folk at Pink Stinks would be gagging in horror.
Admittedly her morning routine is getting easier but for a while there, it was like dressing Lindsay Lohan (except that underwear is ALWAYs part of P1s attire). It would take an eternity to choose the right pieces and there would be earthshattering tantrums if the look wasn’t just right. Her conversation was peppered with the word “fashion” – ” I am soo fashion”, “Why dont we have a fashion show at our house?”, “I want to make fashion for everyone” and predictably “my sister has no fashion”. I can imagine this last comment re-phrased in more colourful language in 15 years time – “My sister has no clue, Her taste is in her derriere!” P2’s response would probably be much the same as it is now – a big raspberry noise.
The Pink Stinks websites names and shames certain products, the likes of which we own by the boxfull. According to their website items such as the My Pretty Learning Purse “have a great deal to do with the indoctrination of Patriarchal beauty values and not very much to do with children’s play”. Hence by allowing the princesses to have such tripe I am 1) letting down the entire feminist movement, 2) planting the seeds of body dysmorphia and ergo eating disorders before they hit primary school.
Pink Stinks have mounted an agressive campaign against the marketing of make up to girls under 8 years of age. They argue that normalising makeup will have a dramatic impact on a young girls self eestem. Holy Moley! Guilty again. Normalising makeup? P1 has more of the stuff than I do. I allowed it into the house because she really enjoys it. I previously thought that the biggest problem with these kiddy cosmetics was the pinkification of our carpet. Now I have to face the fact that all this make up is causing P1 to judge herself solely on looks and thereby eroding her self eestem when she cant measure up to airbrushed supermodels – Ouch.
As you can imagine, Pink Stinks have really got it in for the Disney Princesses. Sadly at Chez ‘Abulous the Disney Princesses rule like demigods. One of the Pink Stinks authors is outraged when a doctor gives her little girl a Snow White sticker. By contrast my two don’t mind getting cuts and scratches if it means they get a Disney Princess bandaid. Bandaids are a fashion must-have.
So there you have it Mumrades – my guilt and shame on a platter. I’ve embraced the pink because fighting it is too much like hard work. I look at P1s pinkiness as an expression of joie de vivre rather than submission. She’s an island of cheer in a beige world. The Pink Stinks people are far more zealous than I could ever be but I do support the main thrust of their argument. Women are unfairly judged on looks and the pressure to measure up can be soul crushing*. As guard against this I’m trying to instill a sense of worth in my girls that is not related to their appearance. I regularly tell P1 that she is smart, talented, fun to be around and a good friend. Its something she loves to hear. Patriachy watch out – my pink girl is coming through.
* To be fair, guys are increasingly experiencing this type of pressure as a visit to your local gym will show.