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Say you get invited to a baby shower. The latest news is that she will be having a girl. You run to the store, go into the newborn section, and pick out a frilly little pink onesie and pink binky for the expected baby. Sounds cute. Easy enough, right?
Why pink? Does anyone ever question this?
A baby doesn't have color preferences, so who does?
I have recently researched this: The tender topic of gender stereotypes placed upon children, where it all comes from, and although it may not apparently harm our children, it may not prove to be beneficial either.
Societal norms play a huge role in shaping our brains. Media, culture, and daily interactions make us feel certain ways about those challenging what we're used to. Our western world is dominated by a heteronormative patriarchy. There is a clear correlation that this explains why many are so shy to divert from the gender norms we know.
Girls wear pink and should be dainty. Boys should wear blue and play sports. Girls might grow up to be the homemaker, so we give them a little Playskool kitchen set to play house in. Boys will be a more dominant role, so we should let them roughhouse and establish that dominance.
This outdated measure of gender is still exercised, but most of whom don't even notice.
Our media sources are one to blame. Without even realizing it, we're fed what's "normal" in our society. Generally, heteronormative markets cash in on this idea that little girls and boys clothing, toys, and decor should be different. Hence, we have the separate aisles at stores—one for dolls and one for Tonka trucks. Why wouldn't companies divide everything? More money, more power.
I'm not saying you're harming your child's development and happiness if you conform to these norms, but it could have reciprocating effects towards others challenging them. In changing times, it seems more people are defying the traditional standards of gender association.
There's also the idea that your child might not like the things associated with their gender. Then what?
When a child is developing their sense of identity, should they be placed within a box for acceptance of others? For instance, a little boy enjoying playing dress-up, makeup, wearing pink, and dancing as opposed to sports or playing in the mud.
Should he be discouraged from that? And if he is discouraged from that, will that change the outcome of his life and happiness, as well as tolerance of others?
It has been proven that those who break traditional gender stereotypes are more accepting of others—for obvious reasons. And with changing progressive outlooks on these issues, no one should be worried for their child if they want to break out and be their own person. This is where the parent makes or breaks it. Parental support is key. Childhood development plays a big role in the overall identity of a person. Hindering that could have consequences in the larger scale of life.
Although I was raised in a gendered way, a female, surrounded by pink and "girly" items, I'm not playing the blame game with my parents. I understand it is the way of the world today, and that there are many forces driving this implicit stereotyping.
I only aim to raise awareness that these ideas of gender were created by society. They are not set in stone, as many challengers today are being countered with actions of gender neutrality. I only aim to challenge you to recognize the way of thinking that has placed barriers on those who may not fit our expected gender norms—they may have been persecuted for it.
Just take a step back and think about it.
Does a baby really care about what color their clothes are?