A couple of days ago, I was talking to my neighbour and asked him what he believed his daughter would think of the new cover for “The Uncontrollable Flying Carpet.” His reply was a surprise.
“She wouldn’t like it because the girl is wearing a pink dress,” he said, “and she says that girls shouldn’t wear pink.”
I do get his daughter’s point – traditionally, pink is associated with gender-stereotyping, with encouraging girls to be weak, feminine home-makers. Make no mistake, I am all for smashing down such demeaning and diminishing attitudes. Girls and boys are surrounded by societal expectations of what they should wear, how they should act and speak, what things they should do. And that is why I created the character of Sabrina Summers. She’s a tough girl; she is resourceful and brave, and, by coincidence, she happens to live in sneakers and shorts and she hates her ruffled, pink bridesmaid’s dress. I hope she’s a great role-model for girls who don’t otherwise get told that it’s OK to be who you are and need encouragement do the right thing.
Sabrina does love her pink sneakers, though, and it troubles me that, if this was real life, someone might make her too embarrassed at the ‘girlyness’ of her practical, comfortable footwear. Why, exactly, can’t girls wear pink anymore? Do they think, in order to be accepted at school or in their friend-group, they should be more like our stereo-typed image of boys? In short, do they think that, in order to succeed, they must be like boys? Are they ashamed of being girls? It seems as though, in order to conform to new expectations, they feel that they actually are not allowed to wear pink, nor to like unicorns and kittens or in any way be ‘girly’.
So, what, exactly, is wrong with being ‘girly’? Well, nothing of course. Isn’t the person who loves kittens more likely to grow up to be an animal lover who’ll rescue cats from vivisection laboratories? Isn’t the unicorn-lover more likely to have a wonderful imagination and see things as they could be, instead of passively accepting how things are no matter how bad?
Here’s the thing – pink is just a colour. Anyone at any age should be able to wear it. Girls are allowed to be girls and shouldn’t feel ashamed of that. What matters more is that boys and girls both know that. They can wear whatever they like, in fact, and what matters is that they are true to themselves.
So yes, cool girls, and boys, can wear pink. Or not. It’s up to them.