It seems we have divided the entire world in perfectly aligned lines of pink and blue.
Every toy store, every nursery, every clothing department for kids, every child’s dream -- nothing is safe.
We have left nothing unmarked. Everything is labeled, categorically and with meticulous care. A stroll through the aisles of Toys R Us or Kmart or Target or any other big store is mind boggling.
It is intimidating to say the least and I can only imagine how it might seem to little girls and boys who walk in as children and walk out as A Girl or A Boy. Screened and appropriately labeled according to their respective gender.
Looking for summer wear for my almost two-year-old son the other day, I was stuck with clothing options in grey, darker grey, blue, light blue, lighter blue, black, or white.
A sneak peek into the girls' section got me tons of shades of pink and violet. It’s as though my son is not allowed to wear bright colors or pink, ordained by a superior authority without my knowledge.
All the boys’ t-shirts were of superheroes, massive trucks, and dinosaurs while all that the girls got were fairies, sassy quotes, and sparkles. If I had a girl, I would have been hard pressed to find her a dinosaur t-shirt or one with Batman on it.
I don’t remember my childhood being colour-coded. I didn’t have to wear pink constantly or have sparkly unicorns on my t-shirt to tell me what gender I belonged to.
Maybe my parents were a little slow in catching up with the colours sweeping through society, another thing handed down from the West. I grew up owning blue bicycles, an Atari console, a super cool figure 8 racing car track set, and also a huge doll house.
I wasn’t told to only play with my dolls. Walk into any toy store now, and all dolls and tea sets are, without exception, packaged in pink and all children pictured on the package happily playing house are girls.
All trucks and cars are in blue/black and other “manly” colors. All kids on the packaging are, without fail, boys.
Since the industries catering to our children have already made up their minds on the matter, the onus is on us, the parents.
We need to consciously stop labeling our children in colours. Let’s consciously begin buying cars and trucks and superhero t-shirts for girls. Let us not drown them in dolls at birthdays.
Let us buy tea sets and teddies for boys. The worst that can happen is they will grow up to be great dads. Let us not dress our girls in bridal wear and take pictures.
Let us not allow our daughters to pose with her hips sticking out. Let us allow her to play in the sun and get dirty or bruise her knee. Let us allow our boys to cry a little. Let us never ever say “boys don’t cry.”
Let us allow them to be children. Society will prod and pry their dreams open and box them into regular shapes later in life anyway. Let us at least give them a fighting chance.
Let us stop colour-coding children.
No child is ever born knowing that he or she is meant to only fit in one mold, that their identities will be watered down to two basic colors so they fit the preconceived notions of society.
Let us instead rid ourselves of this shelving mechanism. Let us all come together to raise not a boy or a girl, but a child.
Because children can only be children for so long.
Nudrat Lohani Nabi is a client service representative at Jagar Ltd in Sydney, Australia.