boy colors. again.

The Kidling has, on myriad occasions, tried to get me to understand her conceptualization of gendered colors. And I have, on each of those occasions, pretended I had no idea what she was talking about. I asked for her to explain it to me. I played dumb.

Every time.

You see, it all began years ago when The Kidling told me that blue is a boy color and pink is a girl color. Way too early. Like, at three years old. So I, you guessed it, played dumb.

“Interesting,” I would ask. “How are colors boys or girls?”

And she would get so mad!

“They just are!” was a common reply.

Solidly reasoned. Sign this kid up for law school.

So I pushed. And pushed. Until I got the answer I wanted.

“But what makes a creature a girl? What makes another creature a boy?” I questioned further.

When I finally received an anatomically correct response from The Kidling, she just got irritated and huffed off, as if I couldn’t possibly be saved from my own ignorance.

Which is probably true.

I thought we were past this. At the very least, I thought The Kidling had given up on me. Then yesterday, she spied the clothes I had set out for her to wear to school and requested a different cardigan. I could not possibly care less what she wears to school,* and I was preparing to agree when she said of her sweater,

The Kidling: That’s a boy color.
The Mama: Why? It is red!? How is red a boy color?
The Kidling: (stubbornly) I just know it is. Boy colors are dark and wrinkly.

This conversation brought to you by The Mama (whose favorite color is black) and The Kidling (whose favorite color is… wait for it… blue. go figure).


* Not quite true. But close.

About The Mamahttp://kidlingville.comProfessional talker, editor, emailer, problem solver, adjunct lecturer, blogger, and mother to the brilliantly absurd Kidling.

11 thoughts on “boy colors. again.

  1. Wow this is interesting. My three year old daughter has been doing the same thing, – certain toys, and pillows, clothing “thats a BOY pillow mom” she says of a grey striped pillow cover- I guess i dont FEEL as if ive ever “TAUGHT” her one way or the other- and i find it fascinating that they can observe things like this just from the general things they see in the world, in society… there ARE distinct “sepatations” in society, color wise…. you dont OFTEN see men in pink- but its kind of a big concept for such a young child/children to take on! Thanks for posting, good read!

    • And so much of it is how they are marketed to, no? Not just in the traditional sense, but “marketed” to by their peers, by well-meaning strangers, by doting aunts and uncles who love to see their gals in pinks and purples… it is everywhere. I continue to remind her–much to her chagrin–that colors are neither sexed nor gendered: they are simply colors.

      We’ll see how far I get with this.

  2. I see your adorable Kidling has the same reasoning about colors as my youngest. Aside from separating them into genders, she also assigns them to different people. She insists purple is a girl color (incidentally, also her favorite, bordering on obsession mind you), and blue is a boy color, and she is terribly upset that it’s MY favorite color because, obviously Mommy is a girl and therefore can’t like boy colors. Black is a special case, that’s Daddy’s color and nobody else is allowed to like it or use it.

  3. I’ve worked in a lot of kindergartens and I’ve seen kids use colours as an early way to be mean to one another. It’s different here in Thailand though pink, purple and yellow are often associated with the much loved King. All three are common t-shirt choices for Thai men. We still have the pink girl toy rows and the blue boy rows though.

      • Yes. Nudges and sniggering because a boy chose a certain colour for his picture. Or t-shirt colours, socks, shoes etc. Also the super duper wind up ‘oooh, look! I’ve got the glitter/multicolour/metalic pencil. NO YOU CAN’T TOUCH IT!’ . Too many kindergarteners like to try to make their friends jealous by making a toy of a certain colour special, even if it’s the same as all the others. As a teacher I admit I have hidden red bicycles, pink scooters and orange cars etc just for a few minutes of slightly less whining. When I buy something for the class I buy all the same colours to keep my sanity 🙂

      • hahaah I must agree! I taught 1st grade for 2 years, 2nd grade for 2 years and preschool for 2 years…I am now subbing and tutoring because I am 7 months pregnant and planning to stay home once the baby arrives!

        • Yep. You’re a saint. I taught elementary school for approximately 5 minutes. Not. For. Me.

          And congrats on the soon-to-be baby! They are every by as amazing as they are exhausting. Thank freaking goodness.


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