Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby Blue and Baby Pink Clothes: The Case Against Gender Stereotyping

Today at the gym I saw adorable twins – a boy and a girl about 10 months old (still crawling and not yet walking). Only the way they were dressed made me see red.

The boy was dressed in blue and the girl was dressed in pink. This gender stereotyping has always driven me crazy. There have been studies done dressing a non-descript baby in one or the other of these colors and recording the different reactions people have to a “boy” baby or a “girl” baby. These studies have shown that gender stereotyping starts at a very early age.

Now I understand that there are differences in genders, important differences. But what shouldn’t be gender-specific is the encouragement young children get to try new experiences. I cringe when a parent says about a toddler – “she’s shy,” thereby reinforcing this behavior. And I strongly suspect that pink or blue clothing on babies and toddlers influences what adults say to these children.

And, yes, if the mother of the twins at the gym had dressed one child in a bright green outfit and another child in a bright yellow outfit, I might not have known the children were boy-girl twins. But did I really need to know that to appreciate how cute they looked together?

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