‘Welcome to the world of pink plastic!’ A friend texted (mother of two girls), congratulating me on the birth of Luna. Even then, bleary-eyed with a newborn in my arms, I grimaced at the thought. How wrong you are, Friend – that’s a world I’ll never inhabit.
Nevertheless, over the next couple of weeks as the generosity of our friends and relations demonstrated itself in parcels arriving at our front door, a wardrobe of miniature pink and rather frilly clothes was starting to pile up.
We called into Mothercare and I recoiled at the division. Baby clothes rails of pastel pink and of pastel blue. For older children, the rails of pink, purple, flowers, butterflies and hearts. And the rows of green, blue, red, brown, dinosaurs, trucks and animals. It continued in the toy department with pictures of girls on the boxes of pink dolls and pink kitchens. And pictures of boys on the boxes of brightly-coloured cars and trains. A simple marketing ploy to tell us we need to buy separate toys for our girls and boys. To buy more. But at what cost – surely a greater one than just the price label on the box?
By the time she was two months old, Luna loved to explore the stuff of life: a wooden spoon, a small stainless steel ladle, a wooden-cased mirror. So I made her a treasure basket of real-life objects. No plastic, no pink.
In fact it wasn’t until her first birthday that it arrived. A pushchair, a doll, a ride-on truck. All pink, all plastic. We cringed; she loved it.
She’s nearly two now and she’s probably done three or four marathons with the pushchair, up and down our hall. In fact, I went out and bought another one, after its third crash was declared a write-off. She also loves her cars, trains and football. Her obsession with bikes will make her second-birthday gift an easy decision. She still wears a lot of pink – because there’s no getting round the fact that girls’ clothes are pink. And the shop assistant really struggled with me buying a ‘boys’’ puddlesuit for her (red with green, yellow and blue cars on).
And now at 10 months, little brother Willow has worn his fair share of pink: sleepsuits, swim suit, leg warmers (we did draw a line at the dresses). His toothbrush is pink, because that’s what Luna chose for him (she wanted the blue one for herself).
When we go to the park, already Luna stands out – with flowers on her boots and cars on her coat, she confuses people. I expect there’s going to come a time pretty soon when she wants to wear flowers and pink, like the other girls. Not because she likes flowers and pink, but because she wants to be like all the other girls. And because society and the marketing industry will have told her that’s what she should like.
But for now, she’s oblivious to this grown-up nonsense, so we’ll just let her be.
Article: 1st April 2015 by Lindsey, West Yorkshire
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