A girl in a pink shirt with a pink bow in her hair dancing in a cloud of pink smoke.


What’s So Bad About My Daughter Loving Pink, Anyway?

Apr 4, 2018

Lately I’ve been posting old photos on Instagram. My daughter, Anna, as a toddler in a denim vest, in a firefighter helmet, in a fuzzy grey bear suit. As friends and acquaintances around me keep making babies — girl babies, in particular — I see similar photos posted: the tiny plaid shirts, the brown corduroy overalls, the space-themed sleepers. The implied “girls can be and wear anything they want” ever present.

"But if the whole point of this giving options, why am I resisting what my daughter chooses?"

Here’s the thing: Anna’s seven now — seven and a half, she says — and there is no fuzzy grey or brown corduroy in our home. Someone once visited us, looked into her bedroom, and exclaimed, “it’s so pink!” Immediately, I got defensive. For what it’s worth, it’s mostly purple, but that’s not the point. It is, in an expected sense, girly. There are hearts and butterflies, there’s pastel, there are stuffed unicorns, painted-on flowers, the aforementioned purple, and — yes — pink.

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I gave my daughter options, dressed her in a range of colours and styles, with selections from the boys’ and girls’ aisles. And when she started choosing her own wardrobe, she chose pink. (Her friends, for what it’s worth, seem very into turquoise, but I digress.)

I have a traditionally feminine daughter. I’m mostly traditionally feminine myself. Neither of us subscribe to the idea that some things are for boys and others for girls. But I wear lipstick and big earrings most days, and she wears pink. In the same way that I pushed fairies over princesses and glitter over lace, I pushed purple over pink. I do, personally, like the colour better. I can make political arguments for most of these decisions, but ultimately I wonder if what goes unsaid is that I am always choosing “hard” over softness, bold over quiet, as if that somehow makes me a better parent and/or feminist.

"Neither of us subscribe to the idea that some things are for boys and others for girls. But I wear lipstick and big earrings most days, and she wears pink."

Is the battle against pink one worth fighting, when I otherwise believe children should have autonomy over these types of low-risk decisions? What message does my pushing away pink send to her, and is she (ironically) rebelling by choosing pink at this point? Is there something implicitly anti-feminine in my approach here?

My social circle is largely populated by queer people, like myself, already on the margins of what is considered proper, and often judged for their outward presentation. More often than not, those of us who have kids in this community, regardless of gender, give a lot of options in terms of colour and style — not preferencing traditional masculinity over traditional femininity, and mixing things up and finding neutrals and alternatives as much as possible. When I see these photos on Instagram of young kids still dressed in these parent-chosen ensembles, I long for the days I made such decisions in my home (but not for diapers or midnight feedings, never those).

But if the whole point of this is giving options, why am I resisting what my daughter chooses?

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My pink-loving daughter likes all kinds of cute things, anything with a bow over anything without. She also likes sports, superheroes and building — she’s not boxed into what’s expected of her as a girl. I know that if I had a boy, I’d embrace my kid loving pink. Small as it is, it would seem somewhat subversive.

I know I’d teach a boy that vulnerability is OK, that gentleness, softness was a good thing, in that context where the opposite is often aggressively pushed. The truth is, I still think those things are true for my daughter. I want her to be in touch with her emotions, I don’t see kindness as weak, and so my whole resistance to softness — and with it, pink — makes me a hypocrite, doesn’t it? Really, my aesthetic preference is a more honest argument against it. (And it’d probably be mature of me to admit I fear being judged by my daughter’s choices.)

If we’ve embraced pink as a reasonable choice for boys, maybe it’s time to also embrace it as a valid option for girls. Maybe I should make this the year I suck up my personal preferences, accept and celebrate that my daughter has made a choice, at least for now, and loves pink.

Article Author Tara-Michelle Ziniuk
Tara-Michelle Ziniuk

Read more from Tara-Michelle here.

Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is a writer and editor based in Toronto. She’s a queer single mom to a 7.5-year-old. She’s overshared about her daughter for Today’s Parent, Bunch Family, Baby Post and various other print and digital publications. She’s also a poet (her kid says “of sad books”) and book reviewer (for Publisher’s Weekly, The Canadian Children’s Book News and more). You can find her on Twitter @therealrealtmz.

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