How Not Dressing a Girl in Pink Promotes Gender Stereotypes

I sometimes dress our baby girl in pink. According to some people, by dressing her in this colour I’m reinforcing outdated gender stereotypes. Some minister via the Independent even went as far to say “dressing your daughter in pink and buying her ‘girly’ toys damages the future of our economy.” So I’m here to talk some sense into people and say that dressing your girl in pink doesn’t promote gender stereotypes, but avoiding it altogether might!

Pretty in pink - a baby girl dressed in pink
Our baby girl dressed in pink! How awful!

Before I carry on with this post, I will admit that I am being slightly facetious with what I’m about to say. I have my tongue firmly in my cheek and there’s a part of me that’s just playing devil’s advocate. So chill out. I’m just trying to look at things with a little bit of perspective.

Not Dressing a Girl in Pink Actually Promotes Gender Stereotypes

Some people might argue that you shouldn’t really dress a girl in pink as it reinforces gender stereotypes. They argue that pink is in fact a girls colour and by dressing them in pink you’re pushing them down the path of being pigeonholed into ‘female’ gender roles.

I tend to think a little bit differently. By not dressing a girl in pink you’re actually acknowledging the fact that it’s perceived as a girls colour. You’re literally reverse-reinforcing gender stereotypes by avoiding it. Whereas if you didn’t care what colour a baby was wearing, irrespective of their gender, you’d be accepting of that fact that colours are just colours. By saying to a girl that you can wear every colour apart from pink, aren’t you essentially sending the message that there are things for boys and things for girls?

I Honestly Don’t Care What Colour our daughter Wears

Honestly. I don’t care what colour the clothes are that our daughter wears. If we want to put her in a pink, sparkly, frilly dress with ‘I’m a Princess’ plastered across the front then we’ll do just that. Does it promote some weird gender stereotype that she should be pretty and act like a princess? No. It merely means that the clothes are pink and it has some arbitrary writing across the front. And that’s it. It’s not like she can even read at this stage. It could have “I’m a massive knobhead” written across it and she’d be none the wiser.

I get that you shouldn’t dress a girl in pink ALL the time. But you shouldn’t dress them in any colour all the time. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. If they wear pink, then they wear pink. Who really cares? I don’t even care and for some reason I’m writing a post about it. Is there really anything wrong with this?

Our baby girl in pink for an Easter themed photo shoot
I’ve dressed my daughter in pink. And?

That’s a pink, frilly dress. When I see this I don’t immediately see a girly pink dress. I see a happy toddler who just so happens to be wearing pink. I don’t see something that’s going to ruin her potential as a person. And I don’t see something that’s going to damage the economy.

I understand it if someone’s concern is the other things that come along with the colour pink. Maybe someone who believes a girl should wear pink might also think other things that they should, or shouldn’t, do. Maybe people see it as an indictor that someone agrees with gender stereotypes. The person who dresses their daughter in pink, will also steer them away from ‘boy’ things.

I get the concern. But at times it’s also misplaced. We don’t always dress our daughter in pink. I am just as likely to dress her in pink as I am in something like this:

my daughter getting a little bit close to the edge of the lake at Tredegar house park
Shit me, that’s blue! And from the ‘boys’ range too!

Pink is just like every other colour, and that’s it!

People might argue that I should be encouraging our daughter to wear stuff like what she has on above, and avoid the pink dress. But to me there’s nothing wrong with having a mix. I’m not avoiding a colour just because it plays into some gender stereotype. What’s really wrong with pink? If you want to say that girls should be able to wear what they want then that includes wearing something that’s pink.

If it ends up being her favourite colour and she wants a pink room then that’s fine. She can have a pink room.

Sometimes people actually like gender stereotypical things. Why would I receive praise from some people for having a boy with a pink room, whilst simultaneously taking heat for having a girl do the same thing. Isn’t the whole idea of defeating sexism about things being more equal?

Being Aware of Gender Stereotypes as our baby girl Gets Older

Look, I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to force our daughter to be a pretty princess and do ‘girly’ things all the time. I actually really hopes she gets into jiu-jitsu or some other martial art as I really love watching the UFC. If she wants to play football, play in the mud or be a mechanic, then that’s fine too. But do you see what I did there? I essentially acknowledged those things are things that boys do. And people do it all the time.

There’s even the This Is Me campaign via the Welsh Government website. Here it is:

They literally say “From a man working as a midwife to a woman working as a mechanic, or a young boy wearing makeup to a young girl playing in the mud with her truck” as part of their campaign.

Doesn’t mentioning these things as people breaking gender stereotypes just reinforce the fact that they’re doing something largely attributed to the opposite sex? Who even said playing in the mud with a truck was a boy thing to do anyway?

I know Gender Stereotypes Can Be Harmful

Of course, I might be talking shit on this one. I totally get that. Maybe I understand more than enough about gender roles, stereotypes and sexism for it to be of no concern to me. I’m merely playing devil’s advocate on this one and suggesting that saying you shouldn’t dress a girl in pink, or running campaigns like the one above, actually reinforces what is considered a ‘boy’ thing and a ‘girl’ thing.

Gender stereotypes can be incredibly harmful to BOTH genders. All I want for Isabelle when she grows up is to understand that she can do whatever she is capable of doing. I don’t want to force her into doing something just because it goes against traditional female gender stereotypes and makes me look like a cool liberal father. Yes, there are dickheads who do that. There are even people who go as far as disregarding the gender and raise children as “theybies.” Honestly.

Should I avoid ballet class with my daughter purely because it’s seen as a ‘girls’ thing to do? Of course not. And I’m not going to stop her playing with a doll or a play kitchen set because it’s seen as ‘girly’ either. That would be moronic.

I guess my whole point in all of this is for people to chill out a little. Dressing a girl in pink isn’t going to ruin the economy, stop her from pursing what she wants or help fuel a bullshit, false gender pay gap. There are far bigger things out there that can do that.

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I sometimes dress our baby girl in pink. According to some people, by dressing her in this colour I'm reinforcing outdated gender stereotypes. So I'm here to talk some sense into people and say that dressing your girl in pink doesn't promote gender stereotypes, but avoiding it altogether might!



I’m a 27 year old married father of one – soon to be two! I started blogging after suffering with postnatal depression when Isabelle was born. These days I just talk about my life as a dad.

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  1. 11th April 2018 / 7:23 am

    I completely agree! I do think that people have got a little bit carried away with this recently. That’s not to say I can’t see why the debate began, but I certainly don’t think we should start being overbearing in the opposite way. (‘You don’t want the truck son, have the barbie doll!)

    Surely just letting your child make their own decisions as they grow is enough. Let them favour whichever colours they like, let them choose whichever toys they fancy, and encourage them in activities they enjoy. No need to push, either way. I would say that’s the best way to counter gender stereotypes. Just don’t highlight them, either in the traditional sense or the reverse sense.

    • Ross Hunt
      13th April 2018 / 6:37 pm

      It’s like you have to overthink every single action a child does. You have to be aware of sexism, racism, and every other thing in the world when the child simply wants to play with a truck.

      I’m all up for being aware of things and making sure we don’t say the wrong things. But people do sometimes take it too far.

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