When my daughter was an infant, I dressed her in non-gender-specific clothing as often as possible. No pink bow around her bald head, no “Daddy’s little girl” bibs, no frills or furbelows. Well-meaning strangers would ask, “what’s your son’s name?” I would answer, “Her name is…” and they would stammer an embarrassed apology. I took no offense, and would say, “I’m the one who dressed her in blue.” I have no idea if my little experiment had any effect on her sense of herself, except that now that she’s 8, her favorite shoes are Stride Rite Star Wars Captain Rex sneakers (found under the “boys shoes” tab, natch.). Then again, she also likes these shoes for dress-up occasions.
Today I came across a fascinating piece published by Smithsonian.com back in April. It traces the origins of the whole “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” idea, and it shocked me how recently it developed. Take a read and think twice the next time you scan a little baby for gender clues. Maybe just ask, “what’s your baby’s name?” and leave it at that.