Then, the other day Kendi and I went to buy some shoes for my parent’s 30th anniversary. We were throwing a ‘wedding’ for their vow renewal. I went into a shop that sold clothes for adults and children and went to the shoes section. These shops are usually labeled ‘men’, ‘women’, ‘Kids’- ‘girls’ and ‘boys’. I went to the ‘kids’ section and because Kendi was right there, I picked up a pair of red and blue sneakers and started to put them on to see if they fit. A shop attendant from across the shop came quickly towards us and said,’ no no, those are boys shoes, here are the girls’ ones’.
I was dumbfounded by her madness.
‘These are not boys shoes’, I replied with slight irritation, I must admit, ‘they are children’s shoes’.
‘Oh you know, some customers would rather be told which is which’, she explained.
‘I don’t know about that but I don’t think you should ever tell another customer that the shoes they want are wrong. Let people buy the shoes they want’. I added.
And that conversation made me wonder about baby clothes.
I have a friend who is constantly telling his son with deep shock and disgust registering on his face, ‘don’t wear so-and-so’s shoes (his friend who is female), you’re wearing girls shoes? Do you want to be a pink boy?’ And his son always answers ‘no’. This little boy will grow up knowing that girl’s things are bad. Girl’s things are undesirable to boys. Pink is for girls, not boys. Girl’s things are just not for boys.
I mean it should be very difficult to tell whether a baby is male or female if they are fully dressed. But in this day and age, it’s very clear. Is the baby wearing pink? Oh that’s a girl. Is the baby wearing a shirt written ‘daddy’s little fighter’? That’s obviously a boy (because why would a girl be daddy’s little anything, other than princess or cutie).
This phenomenon baffles me and not in the way you might imagine. It baffles me because now, there is a huge array of baby clothes for both boys and girls. They are even making newborn clothes in luminous green and chartreuse. But parents are still insisting on the age old pink for girls and blue for boys.
Those shoes are for boys! Pa!