By: Shannon Ralph
May I rant for a moment? As you may or may not know, my twins are in kindergarten. Kindergarten, as a general rule, is a fun place to be. One of the fun things they are doing this year is having two weeks of “color days.” Each day is assigned a color and the kids spend that day talking about that color, reading books about that color, exploring things that are that color, etc., etc. You get the point. Of course, in addition to color activities, the kids are asked to wear that color to school on the assigned day. We’ve done red and green and blue and purple and orange. We did black and white. All have gone well…until this week. Well, that’s not entirely true.
Nicholas missed purple day. When I went to set out his clothes the night before purple day I realized, to my great chagrin, that he did not own anything purple. I looked through all of his drawers and his closet. I looked through his summer clothes from August that were boxed up and put away. I looked through Lucas’s old clothes that might be big, but acceptable, on Nicholas. Nothing. I did not find a single article of clothing that contained any hint of purple at all. Since it was already bedtime the night before purple day, we decided that Nicholas simply would not participate in the clothing portion of purple day. He was not at all affected by this news. When I sadly told him of his fate, he responded with a smile and a quick, “OK.” I, however, was devastated. My darling little boy was missing out on purple day. What kind of mother was I? We survived. However, I was not happy.
This week, we ran headfirst into pink day. PINK day. I am a firm believer that little boys can wear pink. I am a firm believer that grown men can, and should, wear pink. Nicholas even received a pink vacuum cleaner from Santa one year —his very favorite present that Christmas. So imagine my disgust when I —a self-avowed progressive, modern mama—discovered that my son did not own a single pink article of clothing. We had survived purple day, but it was a hellish experience. Granted, it was only hellish for me, but I certainly had no intention of reliving the horror. So I did what any good mother would do.
I went to Target.
As anyone who reads this blog knows, Target is my Nirvana. My Garden of Eden. My Happy Place. Generally speaking, I love Target with a devotion that is both weird and probably unhealthy. But this week, the love of my life disappointed me. I looked through every article of clothing in the toddler boys’ section. I looked through every article of clothing in the big boys’ section. I even looked through every article of clothing in the men’s section (which is really ridiculous considering that Nicholas weighs 30 pounds soaking wet). I did not find a single piece of clothing —not one shirt, pair of pants, hat, scarf, or sock— that included any shade of pink anywhere on it. In my defense, I was not even being a purist. I was not dead-set on carnation pink. I would have settled for rose. Or salmon. Or mauve. Or fuscia. Hell, I would have been happy with light red. But I found nothing. Nothing even remotely pink.
I briefly tried looking in the little girls’ section of the store for a simple t-shirt in a hue of pink that could be considered even moderately masculine. Unfortunately, that was a dead end. Everything in the little girls’ section was adorned with sequins and hearts and roses and kittens and ruffles. There were no simple t-shirts. There was nothing a self-respecting five-year-old boy (or a 39-year-old lesbian, for that matter) would ever consider wearing.
So I went home angry. Irritated that Target —my Target— would not sell pink clothes for little boys. Why is pink such a taboo color for boys? Is it because boys who wear pink are gay? Queer? Homos? It amazes me that a little boy who is a mere five years old —a baby, for God’s sake— cannot like the color pink without raising eyebrows. Cannot wear pink without incurring unwanted attention. Nicholas used to love pink. He loved his pink vacuum cleaner with all of his tiny little heart. He wore a pink polo shirt at his first birthday party. He was my little pink prince. Then something changed. His brother started school. His brother learned that pink is a “girly” color. He told Nicholas that real boys don’t like pink. “Real” boys? As opposed to fake boys? Nicholas internalized this lesson. These days, he tells me that he doesn’t like pink. He doesn’t want to drink out of a pink cup. He doesn’t want to eat out of a pink bowl. He doesn’t want to wear pink clothes.
And apparently, he has nothing to worry about because his mama can’t buy him pink clothes anyway.