Yes, I'm having a girl. No, I don't want pink

As a soon-to-be mom, Monica Reyes is frustrated by the gender stereotypes we reinforce in our children.

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Photo: iStockphoto

Monica Reyes resides in Vancouver with her husband and neurotic dog. She’s also a soon-to-be first-time mom who is excited and terrified about her new life. Follow along as she shares her pregnancy journey.

While I don’t regret finding out the gender of my baby, I do regret telling people the gender. I’m not fond of pink, but having a girl means pink everything. When I buy clothing, I try and choose gender-neutral clothes out of practicality if I have another kid. There is only a tiny sliver dedicated to gender-neutral clothing. This explains why the majority of hand-me-downs or gifts I received were pink or overtly feminine.

Read more: The debate: Should parents find out their baby’s sex? >

Go into any clothing store, and you’ll see the stereotypical girl clothes. Slogans saying “Mommy’s little princess” and the like are plastered over onesies. Pink is the dominant colour which makes it hard finding alternatives. I even tried shopping in the boys section to find something more neutral, but found that even boy clothing has stereotypes. Instead of saying princess, you see sayings like “Mr. Fix-It” or “Grandpa’s Tough Guy.” I found that places that are more gender neutral are usually home-based businesses where the founder was tired of seeing the same issues.

The video by GoldieBlox has been making the rounds on the web. It shows that girls can be more than just princesses, and it tries to break the girly stereotype by getting them interested in building things. I have a background in computer programming and I can attest that there are few females in the field. It’s almost as rare as a unicorn sighting. Growing up, I played with dolls and blocks equally. With blocks I thought it was magic to build something practically out of nothing. I also spent more time hanging out with my dad, watching him fix things, than with my mom in the kitchen. Being exposed to problem solving early on helped define my interests and shape my career. Having a toy like GoldieBlox on the market opens girls to a variety of other options available to them.

Read more: Is princess culture good for girls? > 

Now that I’m looking at what kids are exposed to, I’m shocked at how things have become more separated by gender than when I was a kid. What used to be gender-neutral toys are now being marketed as “girl” and “boy” toys. I thought Lego was gender neutral until I went into the store and saw items marketed specifically for girls. If you go online there’s a girl category, but there isn’t a boy category. Is it because everything else is catered to boys, like the robotics section? If I’m in the girl category, I can find a Lego set like My First Lego Princess. Is this necessary? It’s not just Lego that does this, but other companies too. Employees at McDonald’s will ask if you want a girl or boy Happy Meal toy. Kinder Surprise eggs now have special pink wrapping to indicate that there is a toy for girls inside.

Read more: Traditional gender roles: Boys will be boys >

I’d like to see companies stop dividing things into boy and girl categories as this just reinforces stereotypes and will lead to greater inequality. There’s nothing wrong with being gender neutral — it allows our kids to make a decision based on their actual interests.

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