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Parenting

Girls can wear black too….

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As a Melburnian woman of Mediterranean descent, my wardrobe contains a lot of black clothes. It’s been that way since since I was a teenager. When I was a young girl, I wore clothes in all colours of the rainbow, regardless of “gender” stereotyping. I rocked reds, bounced around in blues, popped in pink, brooded in black, giggled in green, mucked around in magenta…..OK so you get the picture.

My eldest is a boy and I thoroughly enjoy putting together his outfits. Fortunately he’s still young enough to take my word for it if I say a piece of clothing is “cool” (though the time left on that one is running low) AND he enjoys dressing in smart clothes. However, when I found out that our second child was a girl I immediately had visions of a little cherub in funky little outfits. I figured I’d get SO carried away with the choices available that I’d need to hide my own credit cards. Skirts, dresses, pants, pinafores, not to mention the accessories!

Then I went to the shops. And my bubble burst. Why oh why are little girls and babies so limited to pink? And if not pink….why is it always pastels and florals? Why are we narrowing the colour palette and stifling their ability to colour-coordinate an outfit? I have to wonder whether the painfully stylish women of Milan and Paris were given such limited colour choices as children. Or perhaps their impeccable style was groomed from an early age with navy nautical dresses, denim overalls and burberry style trench coats.

To be honest, the colour pink is not that much of an issue for me. Despite my feelings, I’m quite happy with my Little One wearing a pretty pale pink from time to time. What I object to is the pink dress….splattered with pink sequins….a pink bow….emblazoned with pink glitter and topped off with butterflies in……yep, you guessed it. PINK! Some garments look as though they’ve been spewed on by a bag of Pascalls strawberry marshmallows!

What happened to design and style? If I wear a variety of colours from black and burgundy, to navy and chartreuse, why can’t my daughter?

Some people might feel as though I’m over-analysing this (they’re probably right – anyone who knows me knows I’m forever guilty of this!) To really get to the crux of the matter, it’s what the plethora of pinks/florals/pastels represent. What image are we trying to portray of our little girls? That they’re all sweetness and light, softness and pastelly, sugary goodness? And never anything else? What about fun and outgoing? Bad-ass and assertive? Funky and cheeky? It’s the gender stereotyping that really bugs me. Boys wear blue and girls wear pink. 1+1=2. Come on, is it really that simple?

It’s a first-world problem, sure. But it’s one that increasingly bugs me in the current context of gender-specific merchandising and marketing gone crazy. See Anita’s recent article on gender stereotyping for a beautiful summary of the need for gender equality in everything – from clothes to the types of pens we use!

I see that some stores are paving the way. This winter, Seed had some incredibly stylish and feminine navy, white and yellow options for girls. Nailed it! I nearly hyperventilated when my hubby brought home a citrus-yellow denim dungaree dress for summer from Zara Kids. Other brands such as Huxbaby and Chi Khi are providing super-funky gender neutral options. So the options are there – what I would love is for even more retailers to follow suit so that these options are even more accessible and affordable for everyone.

In the meantime, I’ll keep her in a variety of colours and looks that appeal to my sense of style……from furry gilets to bold bandanas, from funky sneakers to shiny patent red shoes. That is….whilst she still lets me!

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Malena is a working mum-of-two who lives in the ‘burbs'…..but dreams of being a fashionista, a writer, a flamenco dancer, a world traveller and so much more! For now, her creative outlet is writing for the Merry-Go-Round which she relishes in between naps, kinder pick-ups and the eternal search for something to cook for dinner!