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Posted by Me - - 26 comments

I was contacted today by a BBC radio station asking if they could interview me as part of a morning breakfast show feature. Gutted! Obviously not about the fact I had been asked, but because I have lost my bloomin voice.

I can't complain too much because I did lose it by completely enjoying myself on my birthday fancy dress celebrations in Blackpool, which was a solid 12 hours of fun and consisted of rather a lot of karaoke singing!
(Flash backs of me dressed as Bat Girl dueting with Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage doing Black Eyed Peas singing My Humps My Humps My Lovely Lady Lumps keeps haunting me! - I am sure my children would have been proud had they seen me... NOT!)


Anyway... back to the interview.
It was to be about Pink Stinks.
For those of you that haven't seen Pink Stinks in the news, it is a campaign that has been set up by two mothers, twins Abbie and Emma Moore who have called for the boycott of a major toy seller (Early Learning Centre) in protest at the "pinkification" of girls' Christmas presents. They say little girls are being led up ‘pink alleys’ with products such as princess dresses and pink fairy wings which will ultimately channel them into “pretty, pretty jobs” and hold them back from reaching their full potential”. They also bad-mouth shops such as ELC for having choices of product by 'gender' when shopping on their website.

They say their aim is to:
a/ Inspire, motivate and enthuse girls about the possibilities and opportunities open to them
b/ Improve girls’ self esteem and confidence, raise their ambitions and ultimately improve their life chances
c/ To challenge the 'culture of pink' which is based on beauty over brains and to provide an alternative

I gruffly muffled to the radio station that because I couldn't speak I would email them my thoughts and although I was a little disappointed I couldn't be part of this one, I was very happy when they asked if I would be part of future parenting features.
So once I'd started thinking about these thoughts, I thought I might aswell use them as the second post in my new blog!

Firstly, can I just go back to the campaigners 'aims' mentioned above. I can't see how pink toys in shops can cause hindrance to 'a' and 'b'. These are fantastic aims, but between teachers and parents, I am sure we can find better ways of reaching these goals.

As for 'c' - what are they going to do - invent a new colour?!

Some girls like pink - so do some boys! Some girls play with trains - some boys play with dolls.
Parents know what their own children like.
So as for the Early Learning Center being slated for having a choice between 'girls' and 'boys' toys when shopping online - isn't that to make it easier for the parents who are shopping, who may I add all know what their own children like? (If your boy wants a 'girls' toy, go to the 'girls' isle, vice versa) If everything was just dumped together shopping would be chaos. Since day dot, there has always been a distinguished difference between girls and boys toys and how they each play during role play.

I don't completely disagree with the campaign at all, I do agree with the campaigns views on low self esteem being on the high due to the media’s obsession with stick-thin models, footballers’ wives, and overtly sexualised pop stars, but again, all this effort could be put into raising awareness of healthy eating & exercise - and promoting good positive parenting to get the correct messages to our children.

Isn't it mums, post pregnancy with excess baby weight who get narked off with these skinny celebs and feel down in the dumps about their weight.. not the children?
If children are getting these messages, they might possibly be coming from their own parents.

So what do these mums not like exactly?
The colour Pink?
Skinny Models?
Toy Shops?
If you visit their website, the message is that garbled I don't think even they know them selves what their actual message is meant to be http://www.pinkstinks.co.uk/

As for saying shop doors are oozing with 'girly pinkness', there are lots of companies out there offering alternative clothing starting from a very young age - www.sophie4sophie.com is one that springs to mind with some really funky designs and also www.wheniwasakid.co.uk for fantastic toys you may find that you played with as a child - If you dont want the pink stuff from ELC - its simple - shop elsewhere... the world isn't under complete pink attack.

In one interview, these two mum campaigners stated "It began because I've got two daughters and Abi has two sons so we started noticing the differences between our houses, It's shocking, mine is full of pink stuff and Abi's is full of dinosaurs."

I say: Erm... yes... thats cause you have two girls and your sister has two boys

They also stated "It's not natural and it wasn't like this when we were growing up in the 1970s".

I say: Erm... yes... times do change darling! In the 70's Microwave ovens and VCR's had only just become available, lets not wish ourselves back there hey?!

So anyway, I went onto the Early Learning Centre's website to see what all the fuss was about.
I typed 'girl' in the gender search and the first item I came across was a Fairyland Bluebell Boot.... you got it... in the colour... Yellow actually! The next was a Country Kitchen in.... cream, and then there were a few pink items, but there was a Light & Sounds retro robot - not typically a girls toy, but certainly in the girls section.
Their search facility is fantastic... you can refine search not only by gender but by price, age and learning skills.

So my opinion on this campaign ... I personally think there is more to worry about these days - why not put all this effort into something more important such as anti-bullying.

Oh and here is Wikipedia's article on the colour Pink! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink

Are you 'for' or 'against' Pink Stinks? Click the poll to the right of this page and let us know anonymously!

(Some of the quotes from this blog were extracted from the Telegraph & Sky News - online)

26 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well i'm in total agreement with Manda. So what if theres pink, blue, yellow or polka dot. Its up to the parent what they buy. I have 2 girls, who both loved thomas the tank engine, just because its aimed at boys did it stop me buying it for them.... no it didnt. I have a son who loves pink things. I personally love the ELC site and find it very easy to use.

    Its only the people who say 'pink stinks' that are making an issue out of this. Get over it and if you dont like it then just dont buy it!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    "I'm all for pink and princesses and four poster beds trimmed with floaty pink bits.
    I am confident enough with my parenting skills, education and my daughters own abilities that I want my little girl to enjoy the 'WORKS' right now. Bring on the pink toys and the Barbie Princess items.
    It strikes me that the people complaining about this have some insecurities in their children, I was over the moon when I noticed that ELC had started making their toys in Pink, even the whizz around garage now comes in Pink.
    I want her to enjoy the dreams of being a princess and twirlling around in a fairy dress dreaming of her big wedding day and living in a castle as a princess, it's what childhood is all about, because when real life kicks in she'll have to grow up and be an adult but until that time I want her to enjoy life and all that comes with it. If she wants to play with dinosaurs and cars then so be it, but if she wants to pretend she's a princess then fantastic, live your dreams as a child because god knows real life is very different but at least she'll have the memories of being a little princess.
    Pink Passion all the way in our household. Freedom to the children to be able to choose their own toys and in what colour they want. My little girl has just turned one and I certainly can't wait until she gets her first doll and princess outfit, because that is what childhood is about, and who are we to take that away from them and hit them with reality too soon. Let them enjoy their childhood and make sure you equip them with the abillity to become adults when, and only when, it is necessary. Imagine the implications of avoiding pink!?!?!?!?! (She might end up a miserable feminist never having enjoyed pretty little princess days)
    Fairies, pink, princesses, palaces, frilly bits and sugar and spice and all things nice , thats what little girls are made of. Power to the world of Pink!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    OK, rant over, and having said all that, if it turns out that Lottie repels pink and wants her toys in blue, green or even black for that matter then the choice will ber hers Freedom for girls to be girls and basically children to be children, I certainly won't be influencing her choices as I have no fears that she will turn into a wonderful adult regardless of the colour of her toys, I believe its her education and the parenting that will help her with that"

  3. Wow guys, thanks for the comments. I was listening to BBC Radio Shropshire's feature on it this morning.. someone made a good comment... mums and dads do dress their babies in certain colours to decipher the sex of a baby... I mean, come on - who can tell the difference between a new born boy or girl when cooing over a pram in the supermarket!
    Keep the comments coming, may just run a feature on this on the 'real' Flying Start website :)
    Manda x

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well As always I have something to say after my wife has clearly stated a fair argument.
    I have an opinion that is as follows... This campaign seems like a massive effort over a point that is just ridiculous.
    Fact...Colour is part of all children's life. Associations are made by all of their senses, however, in most cases sight and colour is the default.
    The idea that pink is associated to girls, and blue to boys just allows the children to categorize and associative to their individual sexes from the word go...
    Lets be truthful about this, female behaviour and male behaviour is well distinguished, and that is from natural evolution... we cannot change it.
    In my opinion highlighting this fact is important for development of the child into junior years and onto adult life.
    All children will ultimately have their own preference in colour. AS a child I preferred green from blue and rapidly changed to having everything green from as young as I remember.
    Although when I saw a blue "butty" box shopping, I knew its more tempting than a pink one!!!
    My point being, associating pink and blue helps development of a child in their early years. Association is no crime. Children will change their preferences and increase their associations with age, but there always has to be a starting point.
    In this case if you don't agree with a well established idea then shop around. There are all sorts of opportunities out there for different colour coding, those parents who want to campaign against a small number of shops and brands need to worry about expanding their searching skills... it took me seconds on the internet to find many options
    I found these articles on the net. Scientist working on the fact pink for girls and blue for boys is in the genes from EVOLUTION. Something to bare in mind.
    Mr Flyingstart
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL2081187520070820
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/boys-like-blue-girls-like-pink--its-in-our-genes-462390.html

  5. Anonymous says:

    Right I am on one...

    Previously I hadnt made it past the home page before being rattled by the " To challenge the 'culture of pink' which is based on beauty over brains and to provide an alternative!" idea

    After re reading the latest campaign a cry out to the public to boycott the Early Learning Centre due to a lack of options for girls toys has said it all to me!!!!
    The website says..........

    "The campaign will focus on the huge difference between the types of toys available for and marketed towards girls and boys on our high streets. Pinkstinks’ argument is that while toys for boys encompass every avenue imaginable - construction; science; adventure; role play; physical and educational – in the so-called ‘pink alleys’ of toy stores choices for girls are much more limited – and limiting. "

    WHAT DO THEY WANT... I'm sure if I walk into the Early Learning Centre there will be a abundance of options for the girls just like the boys. More to the point there is no mention of the 'Blue alley' so surely the toys mentioned are unisex!

    On the phone to the wife, she just asked me "what colour would blue and pink make" as she is deep in thought on this matter.
    My responce being "bl-ink!!!"
    After reading the Pinkstinks website campaign i have an idea

    LETS DO EVERY TOY IN EVERY CATEGORY EVER AVAILABLE FOR BOTH BOYS AND GIRLS IN BLINK!!! MY NEW COLOUR, OH AND FOR AS THE DONATE MONEY OPTIONS ON THEIR WEBSITE AND THE SALE OF SHIRTS................PLAH

  6. Jude says:

    While recognising the truth of all the comments above, I have to say that I do have some sympathy for the Pink Stinks campaign. I do feel that pink (especially Barbie pink) is a little too ubiquitous these days, and while other colour choices are out there, they're not as numerous as they once were. I also think that for girls things are very, very girly out there now (perhaps they always were) and it takes some strength of personality for them to go against that if they want to. I have 2 boys and I get annoyed that so many (not all, obviously) of the creative crafts toys are labelled as girl's toys. No, it doesn't stop me from buying them, but it can discourage my boys from using them if it's very obviously packaged and sold as for girls. I think girls aren't so bothered about playing with toys that might be associated with boys, but once they get to a certain age, boys won't always want to be perceived as being 'girly' by playing with 'girls' toys. I haven't seen the Pink Stinks website, so can't comment on it. I don't think the Early Learning Centre are any more guilty of pinkification than any other retailer or manufacturer, and have no intention of boycotting them - oh and I've just bought my son a pink t-shirt (after having to explain to him that pink isn't just a 'girly' colour, but then I don't feel I should have to explain that). My own personal favourite colour is blue, and always has been - lucky I had boys then!

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  9. Nat says:

    Well it's like pink threw up in my house. But she still plays with blue things and cars and stuff considered boys toys so whatever I have a boy and a girl and the both play with each others stuff. They're happy I'm happy and pinkstink can stick it lol

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have 4 boys and never tried to stereotype when buying toys. they like all the kitchen toys which is good if they grow up learning how to clean!!! But some toys do tend to me aimed at girls than boys or visa versa! I am trying to get a little kitchen for the boys but on the majority of boxes it has pictures of girls on it or is pink - doesnt really bother me but my husband thinks its 'too girly!!'
    It then gets into the realms of is it nature or nurture that determines how our kids grow up - I think they grow up too fast any way so lket them have fun while they are kids!! - Jayne x

  11. Anonymous says:

    I have two boys and a girl i dont think when buying them presents or clothing that the colour comes into it. I just like getting them toys etc that they like. They have all enjoyed playing with each others toys. I would totally disagree that girls having girly things means they've less chance of a decent career, there are plenty of high flying businesswomen all over the world who probably had a tiny tears or a cindy doll as a child. At the end of the day our children are not children for very long, should it really matter what colour or gender its aimed at, if it makes them happy surely that is the only important issue!!!- T x

  12. Alison says:

    I don't think it's worth a campaign or getting a real bee in their bonnet about it, but I do agree in some ways with the Pink Stinks message (although I don't know why they've singled out the ELC). I had a boy first and then a girl and I was completely taken aback with the bombardment of pink when she arrived. She's not yet two so doesn't yet have an opinion (not long though) and I'm looking forward to the fairy wings and party dresses, but does everything have to be pink? I tried to get her some shoes in Clarks and they were all pink or glittery. The shop assistant looked at me as if I was mad when I asked for something that wasn't pink.

  13. Heather says:

    Is there any law or driving force out there that stops the mother of these twin girls from buying things that aren't pink? If your house is full of pink stuff and you find it upsetting, you only have yourself to blame, you are the one with the cash after all. Surely all sensible parents buy what they believe their children will enjoy and play with, not just things marketed towards a specific gender.

    What a load of energy and time wasted over such a non-issue.

    And yes, you are okay to quote me if you wish.

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  15. also... what's wrong with a pretty, pretty job?? I dont hear Jane Asher, Jane Packer, Martha Stewart,Delia Smith,Vera Wang, Nigella Lawson or any other amazing women doing "pretty pretty" jobs complaining!!!

  16. I read your post and instantly panicked - I have a party bag shop online and I have separated my selection of pre-filled party bags by gender. I didn't really question it - it makes it easier to navigate and find what you want. I can't say I'm guilty of peddling pink but I am certainly guilty of segregating boys' and girls' likes and dislikes.
    I'm not sure what else I could do though - I have used age guide and price as different ways to navigate but they are still separated by gender. I would be mortified if anyone was offended by this decision.
    Boys do like different things to girls, for whatever reason - whether it is in the genes or whether we have been socialised to behave in a gender specific way. I often take my gifts to village fairs etc and everything is displayed in little baskets - I don't have a boy's side and a girl's - and I could count on one hand the times when a girl or boy has chosen a toy that would normally be considered more desirable for the other sex.
    I do believe that retailers are just giving people what they want - I'm sure a company like the ELC have done their research.

  17. I completely agree that you do need to separate your party bags by gender. If you didn't have different contents for girls and boys I am sure that your sales would be affected! For example, what boys would want a pink rubber!!!
    Don't take any notice of all this silliness and carry on as you have been doing... It seems that the majority of the public think that 'Pink Stinks' Stinks!!!
    It's simply the way of the world and was always like that when I was little... Boys would have said 'euggghhhh' at something 'girly' then - and we haven't grown up as an unsuccessful generation, in fact I think there are more 'mumtrepreneurs' now than ever!

  18. I banned pink when my daughter was little, we had absolutly nothing in the house with it. No clothing, bedding nothing, I really really hated pink and all things *girlie*.

    And you know what it made no difference whatsoever as soon as she could choose her own things they were pink. And in the end I learnt to tolerate it. As you say things move on and I think there are far worse things for young girls to be exposed to than a colour.

    Here's an article I wrote on the subject back in January http://violetposy.co.uk/2009/01/10/how-i-learnt-to-embrace-pink/

  19. I think the campaign is a little silly and confuses several issues. I'm not sure it's right to target the ELC for having everything in pink as there are also a lot of blue toys too (and I have often wondered why they don't use other colours more often).

    AND why is the focus of the campaign is on girls not boys. I know dads who won't let their sons have a toy kitchen or vacuum cleaner (never mind the colour) because they're too girly! Surely the same issues Pink Stinks state would apply to boys too?

    I have a 2 year old girl who loves dressing up in pink fairy costumes, and already seems to have penchant for shoes and handbags but she also loves playing with cars. Our house is definitely not a pink explosion. She has a red kitchen (Jayne, there are 3 non-pink kitchens here http://wp.me/pzGip-9b) and a blue sand/water play table. That said I think she naturally gravitates to anything pink and sparkly!

  20. Until I had a child of my own, I was probably not so much in the anti-pink camp but more the anti war toys. However, one you thing you discover with boys is that there is a natural instinct in them to want to beat each other up. If you don't give them a gun, they pick up a stick or just point at you. Aggression, monsters, aliens, battle, war, blood & guts all come completely naturally. It's not just him but all his friends too. I don't have a daughter but I have a niece. With no conditioning she will gravitate toward the girlie stuff. I have never seen her adopt an even remotely aggressive pose. She flits about like a little fairy. As long as children have a choice then I don't see what's wrong with it. If you want to campaign about something, how about the amount of packaging and the ridiculous new fad for wiring or screwing toys into boxes. It takes about half an hour to get anything out on Christmas morning!

  21. Laura C says:

    Great post!! I don't see anything wrong with pink toys! Does it really matter? I mean the ELC whizz around garage has been pinkified and it's cars!!

  22. Nina says:

    I am the mother of a 2 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. I haven't been exposed to this Pink Stinks campaign but hope you don't mind me leaving a comment on 'gender' colours etc... here.

    I live in Sweden where the 'pink' invasion is not as pervasive as in the UK (I am British). It is very important in Sweden to give both sexes all opportunities. I really appreciate this approach. Here I am not sure a shop would even be allowed to label something a 'boys' or 'girls' toy. I try to give both my children the oppportunity to play with whatever toys they choose and also to choose their own clothes when the opportunity is there. So, given the freedom to choose, my daughter does like to have pink in her wardrobe (maybe because I have pink clothes??) and my son is obsessed with cars and trains. My daughter said to me the other day "Mummy why does J love cars so much? I like cars but not as much as J". I had no real answer, but said it does seem that boys often like cars a lot more than girls do.

    My instincts say that girls and boys are naturally inclined to differnt colours and games, no matter how much you try to get them to be the same. And I don't see anything wrong with that. What I think is important is that they get to follow their own passions and voice their own likes and dislikes.

    As a bit of a side note, pink wasn't really encouraged or seen as a positive thing in my household when I was a child (I am not even sure if my parents were aware I was picking up this message). I desperately wanted to be pretty and feminine but thought it wasn't something mummy and daddy really approved of. It took me until my adult years to really allow myslef to wear pink and enjoy being feminine.

    Perhaps the good think about this Pink Stinks campagin is that it is opening up a discussion and getting us thinking, even if the campaign message itself is confused.

  23. Thanks everyone - It's been really interesting reading all your views... (We've just linked this blog from Flying Start's official website!)
    Here's some more Pink views from www.kidstart.co.uk/livingwithkids which was posted on Flying Start's British Mummy Bloggers page, who highlight the point that Pink is also the colour of many breast cancer charities, including the Pink Ribbon Foundation which definitely makes it a positive...

  24. Iota says:

    I think they're onto something, but going about it in the wrong way. I DO think that girls are pressured from a very early age to be stereotypically girly, and pink seems to have become the badge for that. There does seem to be a lot of emphasis in girls' toys on appearance and fashion (probably not for preschoolers, but it comes very soon at school), and the pressure to have a good body is not always healthy.

    But you're not going to solve anything by being upset about pink per se. It's far too big and complex an issue to address like this.

  25. I can't see a problem with pink. I have two girls (six and seven) and they have some pink things, some not pink. Some girls are pinker than others. Some are fluffy and pink too. And why not? I originally dressed my baby girl in pink because she didn't have much hair and I got fed up with people asking me what HIS name was.

    I have noticed an ever increasing trend towards sneering at pink though. Why pick on pink? Why not pick on the camouflage print that is ubiquitous for boys. Will it make them turn into soldiers and want to kill people?

    Why not attack those over sexualised Bratz dolls with their heavily made up eyes and hooker clothes? Why not start saying no to a pop industry that sells images of sex to small children?

    I think pink is being unfairly picked on, but it was a good way for the perpetrators of the campaign to get their moment in the spotlight.

  26. Thanks for the link Amanda. @PreseliMags that's an excellent point re camouflage outfits for boys. Khaki is often all you can get.