In general, I am not an Angelina Jolie fan. I see her face far too often in the tabloids at the grocery store checkout, and usually the news about her has been, well, weird.
One Jolie headline, however, raised my estimation of her a notch.
Supposedly, she offended her in-laws by refusing to dress a daughter in the pink clothes they bought. I’m not advocating offending your in-laws (this will only come back to bite you at Christmas), but I’m glad to see someone else striking a blow against the The Pink Conspiracy (TPC).
I’ve been aware of TPC for some time now, but have only just worked out how big it is, as I have children to shop for.
Let’s start with children’s clothing. Early on, you have a choice of blue, green, or even white sleepers for a newborn son. For your newborn daughter? You have a choice between pink, light pink, and lighter pink. Frankly, I’m not sure why manufacturers bother wasting dye on newborn clothing — making them all spit-up coloured would be far more practical.
Fast forward a year and the boy’s range expands to include red, khaki, tan, plaid, brown, black, and even dark purple. On the girl’s side of the rack, there’s still pink, light pink, and lighter pink. Oh yes and the odd pair of blue jeans, but these must include: A) pink stitching, B) embroidered flowers, C) embroidered hearts, or D) all of the above. Also rainbows and unicorns.
The girl’s clothes are also decorated … with bows, frills, ruffles, beads, ribbons and sequins. I think this explains why all the great masters of painting throughout the ages have been male. Mothers have been too busy hand washing their daughters’ togs to have time to learn the art; girls avoided it because oils and acrylics really mess up good beadwork.
Toy stores are just as bad. In the boys section, you have cool things like Lego, and action figures, train sets, and athletic equipment. A boy will, from an early age, gain an intuitive understanding of building and engineering principles, geometry, motion and systems design. And possibly light sabres.
In the girls section, you will find dolls, tea sets, miniature appliances like vacuum cleaners, and makeup and hair care kits. A girl will, from an early age, gain an intuitive understanding of … housework. Of course, all of these toys will be various shades of pink. Unless they’re intended for the 9-11 year old set, in which case they will be pink *and* sprinkled with glitter.
It’s around this age that researchers begin testing boys and girls to see what cognitive differences there are between the sexes. Most will point to the results — which show boys scoring higher in math and science — as proof that males are biologically hardwired to be better at them. I figure that girls have the same abilities at birth, we’ve just had our fuses blown by too much exposure to pink. Seriously — try walking down the Barbie aisle of your local department store without sunglasses, and see what it does for your retina.
TPC carries on into the teenage years and adulthood, only by this time clothing and makeup (the only toys left for women) come in a wider variety of colours, such as coral, rose, peach, salmon, blush, carnation, and fuchsia. Progressive retailers, hoping to compensate for, um, biology, attempt to design “female friendly” products, such as pink computers, pink cars, and even pink power tools. The most common element in the universe is supposed to be hydrogen, but given the seemingly limitless supply of the stuff, I think it really must be pink dye.
In many ways, The Pink Conspiracy is just as restrictive as corsets and foot binding, just more subtle. It’s still all about being dainty and gentle, dreamy and perhaps even vapid.
Of course there’s one sure fire way to halt TPC — and that’s if all of us moms stopped buying pink things for our daughters.
And if that ever happens, I’ll be tickled, well, you know… pink.