I’m allergic to pink – from the marrow in my bones to the tips of my un-painted fingernails, even though it suits me (so I’m told), I can’t abide pink.
A child of the early waves of feminism and equal opportunity, it makes me cringe to see little girls being defined by this one colour, in every shade from powder pink to lurid fuchsia. If you’re a young girl, it seems you have to be fluffied into pink and preferably adorned with butterflies, fairy wings or glitter. You only have to wander into any children’s section in any department store anywhere in the country to be greeted by a tidal wave of pink, sparkles and tulle. I see it and I weep, because of what it represents, and because of the mindset it seems to endorse.
I’m not the only one. Today in the Telegraph, Jenny Willott, the Consumer Affairs minister, bemoans gender stereotyping, which begins, she says, with the way girls and boys are directed towards certain toys, often through none-too-subtle colour coding – pink for a girl, blue for a boy. I would add, not just toys, but clothes; clothes and princesses and fairies and fluffy-wuffies. I couldn’t be more against this gender-divisive stereotyping.
Undeniably controversial in some of her comments (just read the article), Jenny Willott says girls are being dissuaded from certain roles and professions through gender stereotyping which begins in their childhood. She highlights the worlds of science, technology, engineering and maths where she says businesses – and the economy – are missing out on their talent. Despite the vitriol being poured on her through the comments on this article, I can’t help thinking, she has a point.
Think of the 60’s and 70’s, and back to the Suffragettes and beyond and you will find numerous examples of women stepping away from traditional gender-defined roles and stereotype and pressing for equality and opportunity – and winning it for their own and future generations. Yet here we are today, so keen to stereotype girls into pink princesses and fairies where the only thing that’s valued across those formative years, is how pretty and sparkly they are.
One of a few ‘golden rules’ I try to follow both as a writer and a woman, is to avoid cliché and stay away from stereotype. So it saddens me to see the work done by many brave and dauntless women of modern history, undermined by today’s predilection for pink, and all it represents in terms of gender stereotyping.