Quite a while back, I wrote about the importance of pink shirts. Actually, that post is about how I don’t want “gender equality” to mean “girls can be like boys, but not vice versa.” Pink shirts for boys are just one of the more obvious examples; still, it became important to me that Little Boy have one. He’s too young to care about his wardrobe—why not offer him a wide selection?
It should’ve been so easy. Walk into store. Buy pink shirt. Dress baby. But it turned out to be a lot harder than that.
In the store, I got whacked in the face with my own ingrained gender biases. I couldn’t bring myself to buy my Little Boy a ruffly purple shirt or a sweater with pink sparkles. I don’t like that, I thought. And it’s true, I don’t tend to wear sparkly ruffly things myself. But if my child were a girl, would I have bought it? How much was my conception of “boy” getting in the way of me purchasing some cute stuff for my kid?
It wasn’t entirely my fault. A plain ol’ pink T-shirt, it turns out, is a surprisingly rare commodity. The toddler boys’ section of the department store is filled with staples—T-shirts, jeans, thermals—in a good set of basic colors. Toddler girls, on the other hand, get to choose from the aforementioned sparkly ruffly things. “Basics” don’t seem to be a part of girls’ clothing.
After putting it off for far too long, I ordered a couple of shirts for Little Boy from Primary.com, a website promising basic children’s clothing in a variety of colors. I still had to order from the “girls” section of the website—as if 18-month-old children didn’t all have the same body type! And the girls’ clothes, of course, run small, so we had to order a size up.
On Monday, Little Boy wore one of his new shirts, in a pleasant lavender, to daycare. The other new shirt is a jewel-toned pink. They’re not the most outrageous colors in his dresser drawer; that honor belongs to the blinding plaids given by a well-meaning relative. Nevertheless, I found myself rather unreasonably nervous. Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?
If anyone did notice, they didn’t care.