I was at the doctors as Baby girl was having her second lot of immunisations. I had taken Finlay with me and as I was waiting to speak to reception he had decided to put on some of my tinted pink Vaseline. Not just a bit, quite a lot and he had some very pink pouty lips. I had told him that he could put a bit on, so I just laughed and said, maybe not so much next time. As I was strapping a not very happy Baby girl back into her car seat I hear a women behind me say,
“What on earth have you done to yourself?, he’s got pink lipstick on, do you think that’s a good idea?” Her tone was rather annoying, it wasn’t just what she said it was the way she said it. Now she’s lucky that she caught me on a good day. I took a deep breath and just said “It’s only a bit of tinted Vaseline”. So not getting the response she wanted she then went on to have a further dig. Saying “You’re a very pretty boy now, are you going to wear a pretty skirt to go with your girl lips?, are you a girl or a boy?” I’m seeing red now, but still not rising. I ignore her and say to Finlay who is now hiding his head in his hands “it’s ok”. I’m still trying to get baby girl in her car seat. The women then says “He won’t even dare to look at me now”. My response, “I’m not surprised”. I’m finally ready so Finlay goes to the door, she looks at me and says in her condescending tone, “He’s gone outside you know? are you ok with that?!” Seething now! I reply “He won’t have gone outside he will be at the door”. I get to the door and he’s waiting holding it open for me so I very loudly say, “Thanks Finlay for holding the door”. As soon as we are outside I say to him to ignore the horrible woman, it was only pink Vaseline and if he wants to put it on he can. He says sorry for doing it which makes me annoyed! So I reassure him that he doesn’t need to be sorry he had done nothing wrong.
Driving home, rather annoyed it got me thinking about gender stereotypes. It also got me thinking about why people think they have the right to pass comment, but I will save that for another post!
I’m raising two boys and for a while they only had me for the majority of the time. They have seen me paint my nails and do my make up and they have both been interested in it. Yes they have put make up on and yes I have painted their nails (toes) I don’t encourage it or discourage it. I think it’s only natural that they are interested in what they see. My seven year old would never do it now and my four year old still shows interest. My first boy wanted a doll and a pram to play with, so I got him one. He had just had a baby brother and was watching me care for him and would copy. Growing up I had toy cars and a tool kit, so I don’t really see why it’s such a big deal when it is the other way around. I’m increasingly noticing how gender divided toys are and how even toys that are considered neutral will now have a pink and a blue version. I don’t see the need for it. If I was getting Baby girl a toy garage and cars, they don’t need to be pink. In fact I would try and not buy the pink version. I’m sure Baby girl will play with her brothers super heroes and footballs and nothing will be said.
The lady earlier was obviously in her comment “Do you think it’s a good idea?”, suggesting that by me letting him as a boy put Vaseline on, I was encouraging him to be girly and maybe she was suggesting that it could make him gay. I really don’t think that a tiny bit of pink Vaseline is going to change the course of his life. He is what he is and I will love him regardless, even if he decides he wants to wear pink Vaseline every day.
There is a huge problem is society with gender stereotyping, I feel particularly with boys. Gender division of toys in shops recently hit the headlines and I was really pleased to see that some shops are responding and taking down gender specific signs. Let toys be toys is the voice behind this. They have some really interesting information on their site about the importance of children playing with a variety of toys and why play is important. Having a Psychology degree I know how important this all is.
It really angers me that the media/society is telling girls and boys what they should and shouldn’t like. Producing gender stereotypes, restricting their choices and providing a fertile ground for bullying. The gender stereotypes they are based on are old fashioned and outdated. Like the lady earlier. I don’t want to restrict my children, my boys or my girl. I want them to have all the experiences so they can find out for themselves what it is they like and excel at. If my little boy wants to wear pink Vaseline he should be able to do it without judgement or passing comments from others!