Isn’t she pretty? I love her.
You may remember a few weeks ago I visited my friend Juliette in Pittsburgh. Like any good hostess, she made me feel at home and let me play with her toys. Some of her toys were very similar to stuff I play with here at home – a tummy time mat, a rattle – but she also had one toy that I was particularly taken with.
When Juliette brought her doll over to me, I was so excited I broke out into a big smile! I liked playing with her almost as much as playing with Henry and she never once tried to steal my socks off my feet.
Fast forward to this weekend; Mommy saw one of those pop-up seasonal toy stores that was having a huge clearance sale (because hello? It’s March – the holidays are over!) and went in to try to find a small present for me – I have been such a good boy AND I had four shots at the pediatrician last week. She originally looked for a new dangly to put on my car seat handle, but she didn’t see anything she thought I might like. On her way out, she noticed baby dolls on sale for $7. She went and got Daddy and me to take a look and it was love at first sight – I immediately reached out to grab Sugarplum and give her a big hug. Mine.
“How sweet,” an older woman shopping nearby remarked, “a little girl’s first doll.” Actually, Mommy responded, he’s a boy. The woman gave a confused smile and sort of wandered off.
And you know what? Mommy almost expected that kind of reaction; she also thought of putting Sugarplum away when people came to visit. But why?
Here’s the thing: I’m 6 months old. I am easily entertained by blank sheets of paper. Who cares what kinds of toys I play with?
Mommy and I saw an article a few weeks ago about gender stereotyping and the colors of baby clothes – you know, boys wear blue/girls wear pink, that sort of thing… We can’t find it now, but Google “why boys wear blue” or something similar and you’ll find lots of information – like boys wearing blue is somewhat of a modern convention. In earlier times, before the advent of detergent so strong that it might be able to fight crime in addition to stains, all baby clothes were white. In addition to connoting purity and innocence and all of that, white is easiest to bleach and keep clean. When babies began wearing colors at all, the gender norms were reversed: pink was seen as a baby version of the “masculine” red, and blue represented the Virgin Mary. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the current construct came about. There is some speculation that the switch was because of Nazi Germany’s use of the pink triangle to represent homosexuality.
Wait. I can’t wear pink because Hitler said so?
So Sugarplum is here to stay…and as I grow I will wear whatever colors I want to.