Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Is it a girl or a boy?

Above is a picture of one of my favourite of my daughter's outfits. True, the patterns are somewhat contrasting, but the flowery trousers captured summer beautifully, and, well, what's not to like about construction vehicles? (For those who are interested in such things, the trousers are from Tu at Sainsbury's, and the top is from Mothercare.)

Buying clothes that are not all pink or all blue is, as anyone who has tried to buy for a baby in recent years will know, very difficult. Where other colours creep in to girl's ranges, nice reds for example or bright yellows, they are girlified with bows or glitter or hearts (because as everyone knows, boys don't have hearts).

I started my maternity leave ten weeks before my baby was due, and used nearly every day of that leave online searching for baby clothes in primary colours. There are some out there, but they are nearly always expensive. I allowed myself one - a beautiful striped ensemble from Toby Tiger. It was the outfit I dreamed of bringing my baby home in. Alas it was too big and footless, no good for a teeny baby in the middle of winter. She wore it eventually, including for one of those cringey photoshoots we 'won' at Snappysnaps (if winning is the word when what it is is winning the opportunity to have a photoshoot and then be offered the chance to buy the results on massive canvases costing several hundred each. We declined of course, opting for two small prints, also extortionate, and I don't even like them. My husband had taken his glasses off to avoid glare and doesn't look like him and the Toby Tiger outfit - it just looks a bit odd.)

Anyway, I work very hard at making sure not all the clothes my daughter wears are pink. She's had t-shirts with lions on and brown corduroy trousers and owls and stripes and coats that look like they belong on a football manager circa 1984. They are all from the boys' sections of shops. And of course she's worn her fair share of dresses and bows and pinks too - I don't disallow them, I just want her to grow up knowing there is a choice. (Even Marks & Spencer, who did a lovely five pack of brightly coloured vests last year, branded them for boys, with the girls' version being, well, girlier, turquoise not blue, pink not red, etc).

The thing is, if she's wasn't wearing pink, strangers on buses and in queues and in shops would ask me all about my little boy. (This happens less so now her hair is longer). And much as gender doesn't matter, this riled me a little. It hasn't changed how we dress her, but it does explain why this was one of my favourite outfits of last year - it baffles strangers at first but they usually rightly concluded that while a girl would be dressed in construction vehicles, a boy would probably not be in flowery trousers.


  1. I had the "Oh is it a girl? It was the orange trousers that confused me" comment. Duh. Should have KNOWN that orange was for boys.

    I must admit I am wilfully obnoxious about this and frequently opt for the blue over the pink if I have to choose. And then get cross with people for asking. However, my child is sure to grow up the pinkest princess around as pink things will seem so exotic.

  2. I can't agree more. What is it about the pink explosion in the 'girls'' section of the shops?

    And it's the same with toys. Girls' toys are pink and princessy and glittery. A friend even commented that I'd "better be having a boy" because I said I liked Lego. Really?? A girl can't play with Lego now???