When I threw my best friend a “You Are My Sunshine”-themed baby shower to celebrate her future baby girl (yes, I know, totally adorbs), I scoured many stores in search of yellow clothes because—hello, sunshine! Not a single yellow onesie was to be found. The options pretty much consisted of shades of pink and purple for girls’ items and blue and green for boys’ items. Jeez, was I frustrated!
Here’s the thing: Colors are just that, colors. Yellow isn’t gender-neutral, it’s just, well, yellow. In a world in which girls can grow up to be anything they want, surely we can figure out how to offer clothing for girls and boys that comes in all the colors of the rainbow.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 70 Percent
Many of us—especially moms—think toys have always been categorized by gender: Barbie Dolls for girls and G.I. Joes for boys. But actually, as recently as the 1970s, nearly 70 percent of the toys were gender-neutral, boasting no gender-specific labels at all. But by the ’90s, advertisers reverted to 1950s methods and slapped boy and girl labels on just about every toy.
Today, educators say there are actually key developmental aspects that kids miss out on when they have access to only gender-specific toys. One psychology professor from Washington and Lee University says feminine toys help kids develop fine-motor, language and social skills, while masculine toys encourage large-motor development and spatial skills.
What’s the takeaway? Encourage your kids—both boys and girls—to play with a wide variety of toys. It’ll make them more well-rounded learners!
WOMEN TO WATCH: Emma and Abi Moore, Co-founders of Pinkstinks
All of this leads us to two women who I seriously admire. Emma and Abi Moore are the twin sisters behind nonprofit organization Pinkstinks. First of all, amazing name, right? Pinkstinks boldly confronts the messages that marketers, products and the media hammer into girls’ brains: that girls are supposed to be pretty shopaholics who—you guessed it—love pink.
Here’s how these enterprising ladies came up with Pinkstinks: It was 2008 and Abi, a freelance filmmaker, was working on a film for CNN about a female U.S. scientist doing some truly trailblazing work. But rather than the media covering such groundbreaking stories, Abi was inundated with news from a variety of outlets about Paris Hilton’s drunk-driving debacle. Frustrated that strong females seemed to be rarely featured in the media, Abi and Emma decided to do something about it, using Pinkstinks as a platform to confront the damaging messages bombarding girls though toys, clothes and media.
After launching the award-winning Pinkstinks, Emma and Abi were hit with a slew of hate mail, but they’re not pink haters. They’re more like tongue-in-cheek investigators, tracking down pink, gender-specific items, and employing targeted campaigns to effect positive changes in the products, messages, labels, categorization and representations of girls. I mean, do girls really need a globe to be pink to learn about geography? Come on! (By the way, the sisters, who are raising boys and girls of their own, note that their kids play with whatever toys they dang want!)
Emma and Abi stand behind scientific evidence showing that color prejudice isn’t innate; it’s learned. And these preconceived notions can have major negative impacts for girls as they age, setting them up to accept limited opportunities in their careers and lives. That’s why Abi and Emma are committed to fighting the idea that pink has become the ubiquitous brand color to represent modern girlhood.
Their Pinkstinks’ motto says it all: “There’s more than one way to be a girl.”
QUITE THE QUOTE
With Pinkstinks in mind, today’s quote comes from incomparable feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who said:
“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist, where everyone can be themselves.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.