Guess what? Glitter is for anyone who likes it. This has been a long time coming, but I was motivated to write it thanks to a conversation I overheard.
From the time my 9 year old daughter was born, I was determined that she would grow up knowing she was equal to any boy, and could do anything he could. She wore yellow, blue and green along with pink & purple. She had trains and toy tools and can play in the dirt with the best of them. She also loves pink and purple and sparkles and ruffles and dolls. The message of “girl power” is supported by the mainstream media, including outrage over pink toys. My issue with pink toys is the assumption that only girls want toy brooms and dolls. If the market demands pink toys (I know my daughter would choose pink!) so be it. Business is business.
Where is the boy power message? Boy clothes have airplanes and helicopters and dinosaurs and monster trucks. It’s hard to find “normal” baby boy clothes that are just solids, stripes etc. My 4 1/2 year old son’s favorite toy was the vacuum, for a long time! Both of my boys have dolls and baby carriers (though they quickly go from cuddling their babies to slamming their heads against the walls, ha.) We have a green & beige toy kitchen that all of our kids love, and one of my son’s most prized possessions is his toy mop! I had a heck of a time finding dolls who weren’t dressed in pink. My youngest son’s doll has a dinosaur appliqued on his onesie, but hey…it isn’t pink. I even contacted American Girl (when I was a kid, you could choose “boy” or “girl” clothes for Bitty Baby) and they essentially said there isn’t the market demand for a “boy” doll (other than Bitty Twins.)
Boys can do anything girls can do! The exceptions being lactation and giving birth, but I’m sure modern science will take care of that soon enough, ha. (I’ve read articles about men lactating!)
I’ve been very neutral on toy selections and color preferences. I didn’t bat an eyelash when my son was interested in pink and princesses and wanted his nails painted like his sister. Honestly, I believe it was more because he wanted to be like his older sister than because he really loved them! Suddenly though, my daughter came home from school snidely telling him that “pink is a girl color.” Nope, I quickly corrected her that pink is for anyone who likes pink!
I went to the craft store on a rare, relaxing solo outing, to grab paint for my daughter’s school project. In the same aisle was a family with a daughter and son, choosing paints for their derby cars. The son chose paint with glitter in it and the mother was berating him because glitter is for girls. The daughter was able to choose whatever she wanted, and wasn’t required to choose pink or purple. She wasn’t told that derby cars were for boys. I could feel the hurt when the little boy said that “but they’re glitter in boy colors!” My heart ached for him when his mother angrily said to his father that “these are his colors, that’s it, let’s go.” She told her son “well when all the other kids think you’re ‘funny‘ don’t come cryin’ to me, ’cause I told you not to pick ’em.”
On the one hand, I’m glad she let him choose the colors he wanted, but on the other hand, this experience will probably stick with him for the rest of his life. If his friends do imply that he’s “funny” he’ll be crushed. I doubt he even enjoyed painting his car with the words of his mother echoing in his head. If my sons chose glitter paint and were made fun of, I’d tell them to smile & tell those other kids “well I like it and that’s all that matters!”
I’m not just raising little boys, I am raising someone’s future husband and someone’s Dad (hopefully.) I won’t tell my sons to “man up” or that they can’t like/do certain things because they are boys. They are human beings, and while I acknowledge that there are biological differences between men & women, basing a little boy’s self worth on his level of “manliness” is ridiculous. Encouraging your boys to be themselves (even liking pink or glitter) doesn’t mean they will grow up to be “pansies.”
Glitter is not just for girls.
[…] remain silent, circumcision will continue to be a cultural norm. When I initially wrote my “glitter is for girls” post, I had a remark about circumcision in the last paragraph, but I lost my nerve and […]
This story made me so sad. Teaching boys that it’s ok to like “girl stuff” is actually an act of feminism because it teaches them to value things that are seen as feminine (like the women they will encounter throughout their lives). Like all toddlers, my 2 yr old son likes shiny sparkly things. I wish I could find clothes for him with glitter and bright colors because I know he would love them. I don’t feel comfortable just buying him girl clothes because I don’t want him to suffer the social stigma, but I wish there were a middle ground for boy the way that there is for girls. You can do an internet search for girl’s clothes that aren’t pink, but finding boy clothes that sparkle is far more difficult.
Great examples. I even believe that men and women (or boys/girls) tend to have more differences than just the obvious biology, but I don’t think that should dictate choice of career or glitter. My son chose a hot pink toothbrush at the dentist and I was very thankful the dental assistant didn’t protest at all. It was the brightest one in there so I don’t blame him.
I think parents are often willing to buy things that don’t fit the gender-marketing stereotype, but so so many toys and clothes are bought by well-meaning family and friends who may not realize how many pink clothes or sports-themed items a child may already have. At least that’s my optimistic view that many people WOULD buy less stereotyped items if they were available.
I think and any of my kids would chose glitter for projects. It makes them flashy. But my boys are about a thousand times more likely than my girl to completely cover a pinewood derby car with googly eyeballs.
A derby car with googly eyes would be awesome!
I couldn’t agree with this more!!
It drives me insane that most mainstream boy clothes only have baseballs, wrenches, and cars on them. Why can’t my son just wear a nice plaid shirt without the junk. Josie has plenty of clothes (in all sorts of colors) that don’t have anything on then implying she SHOULD like something. Why should I force my son to like things, and not my daughter?
It just seems so biased, and I’ve definitely been struggling with it a lot since I found out my son was going to be my son.
I completely agree. I’m all for girl power, but I actually think that at this moment in our culture, girls have more freedom than boys. I hate that all toys seem so gendered. I want my daughter to feel free to grow up to be a scientist, but I also want my son to feel free to grow up to be a hair stylist or nurse or flight attendant without fear of being judged. Girls are still overloaded with pink princess messages from the media and we should continue to work on that. Women are still paid less than men in most places (especially women of color), and we should DEFINITELY continue to fight for equal rights. But I do feel that during childhood, at least, a “tomboy” girl is more acceptable in our culture than a boy who likes pink or glitter or princesses or gosh-forbid, to clean and cook, and we need to fight for equal rights there as well.
Yes I agree! I don’t mean to “neglect” equality for women – I just didn’t realize how bad it was for little boys until I had two of my own. 🙂