Monday, May 21, 2007

pierced ears and pink clothes

A few days ago there was a post up on A Mom, a Blog and the Life In-Between about the Curious Case of the Evil, Ear Piercing Cubans responding to a post elsewhere in which people compared piercing a baby's ears to genital mutilation. Obviously the phrase “different strokes for different folks” applies here. While I think it is absurd to compare piercing a baby girl's ears to mutilation in any form (although I may be biased here as I am heavily pierced myself and have never felt mutilated), I certainly would never do it to my little girl. This is not a moral statement and it is not an assault on the practice of piercing. I just personally would never do it. I feel MJ deserves the right to make that choice for herself and that was the comment I made in response to the post, the first one in the list of replies.

When I went back a day or so later to read other comments the tone of each was basically in agreement with the original author: How absurd it is to make such a lopsided comparison. One comment in particular, however, bothered me. The poster described a story in which she encountered a baby of a fellow worker dressed in a white t-shirt and overalls and exclaimed, “He's so cute.” It turns out that the baby was in fact a girl, something about which she was later informed, prompting her to reply, “Really? well maybe she should get her ears pierced. Or not dress her like a boy.”

That statement really annoys me. I was going to reply to it on the original blog, but as my response was forming in my head it began to sound more like a rant and I thought here would be the better venue.

As many people know I am fairly adamant about not having MJ dressed in pink. Personally, I don't like the color and I see no reason to dress my baby girl like a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. This is a lot easier said than done since it seems that many manufacturers of infant clothing generally only make pink for girls until past the age of 12 months. I have gone out of my way to make sure that MJ has clothing in purple, green, black, blue, orange, red and any other color I can find only because I think that the 'pink = girl' equation is absurd. It is my own belief that the tendency of mothers to dress their baby girls only in pink stems from a (possibly) subconscious fear of having someone think their girls are boys.

I feel a similar way about ear piercing. I have no problem with it. I won't do it to her because I think that she should choose to do it herself. I understand that it is also a cultural thing in some instances. I also understand that many mothers simply like it and therefore do it. I have no problem with any of that.

What bugs me is the assumption that it is my responsibility to make sure other people know my baby is a girl by outfitting her with the trappings of "female". Why should I have to I get her ears pierced so that you know what to call her? Since when are jeans and a white t-shirt the exclusive property of the male wardrobe anyway?

Just because I don't put my child in pink frills, or put headbands on her, or put stick-on bows on her head does not mean she looks like a boy. Why is it that no one asks the mother of a boy in a plain white onesie if he is a girl? The assumption always is that if the baby isn't in pink or doesn't have pierced eras the baby is male. How much sense does that make?

What I don't understand is why our culture requires us to outwardly tag female babies in some way to prove to strangers that they are, in fact, female. Why not say that any baby not wearing trucks or footballs must be a girl? It is an equally absurd assumption.

There is an easy solution to that problem, people. If you are wishing to compliment a baby of whose gender you are uncertain, simply say, “What a cute baby!” Simple and to the point


lesleysmeshly said...

Great post. I agree with every point you made. And no baby clothes in any other color but pink (or even worse purple) until you hit the 12 months is SO true. Try this site (for cheap onsies and pants) has every color imaginable...beware though..the clothes run small.

Rebecca said...

On the flip side, Zach's been called a "cute girl" if he's wearing yellow. And I have to look hard to find things that aren't blue on the shelves.

Paige said...

lesleysmeshly - thanks for the suggestion! I just checked out the link. Good alternatives! I have loads of "rocker" onesies for her. If you're interested let me know. I'll give you some links. :)

Paige said...

rebecca (wow, that feels so *wrong*) - I think it's the curse of the infant clothing. Gender identification. *grumble* *grumble*

Stacie said...

Great post.

The "baby girls must be in pink" thing annoys me to no end. People CONSTANTLY say "Look at the little boy twins" or "What cute little boys" to me. Apparently, girls don't wear tie-dye or bright teal or anything other than pink. However, I had her in a pink and green (tie-dye, I like tie-dye) dress and my former co-workers went on and on about how you could SO tell she was a little girl, how she just looked like a girl.

I've honestly thought about putting them both in pink and smirking at all the 'what cute little girls" comments I'll get.