I went shopping with my girls recently to a popular big-box chain store. I won’t tell you the name; instead, I’ll hint that it has bizarre giant red balls out front to disappoint my children and confuse me. For ease of discussion, I’ll call it Big Red Bullseye.
I used to love Big Red Bullseye. I remember many afternoons spent wandering aisles and poking stuff just for fun. That was before I had impressionable sponges living under my roof.
Since then, I’ve had some problems with Big Red Bullseye brainwashing my precious peaches into believing they should only want to play with, wear, touch, or see items if they are pink. This troubling fact – coupled with their assault of goldfish crackers and cookies in the entryway – has led me to not bring my kids with me. I broke that rule because my kindergartner needed to pick a new backpack and try on snow boots.
In the time since I stopped bringing the kids shopping with me, Big Red Bullseye’s buyers have all gone absolutely mad. Nearly every toy was either pink or blue – including Legos! – OR had a picture of some kind of sexualized monster girl. I only wish I were kidding.
More than once during our brief visit, I left my kids in a cart at the end of the aisle because I didn’t want them to see the products for sale. I guess you could say I would rather risk my children being taken by a stranger than have them see the horrendous gender-specific labeling happening around the corner.
… But I really wanted my kindergartner to get that new backpack. The one she uses now has a difficult clasp that leads her to leave the flap open, which causes all kinds of problems. So I marched headlong past all of the vampy dolls and toys that practically shouted “only boys can be doctors” on my quest to retrieve one children’s backpack.
I wanted an animal-themed backpack to go with her owl lunchbox and wasn’t picky about which one; the options on BRB’s website were adorable. In the store, however, they only had the brown monkey, labeled “Boy’s Backpack.” The options on the other side of the aisle were universally pink and sometimes glittery or with poofy bits. All of the characters en vogue were present and accounted for – Barbie, Dora, Hello Kitty, Lalaloopsy, and the Disney gang of over-promoted princesses. Oh, but that’s not entirely all – you could also get the optional pink emo skull.
Y’all, I would like to state for the record that I am not extremely high maintenance. Stick an affordable, regular-looking backpack in my face, and I will mostly likely purchase it. So why are there no options available for such an easy-to-please consumer?
I pondered this question and decided it’s partly our fault. Who can blame Big Red Bullseye for hawking this swill when we buy it? It’s their job to sell, and our decision to buy. Even I’ve let it happen, which is as good as welcoming the junk into my life with open arms. Just like the toys I despise, I’ve been – if you’ll forgive the pun – a pink plastic parent.
But no more. I have decided to take a stand against the nonsense. I will not be a passive participant in this pink pandemonium. December is a good month to make a big change because I’m already preparing for a huge purge to make room for the Christmas onslaught. Leading into January is a nice time for proclamations.
Here’s mine: We will not buy children’s items, e.g. clothes, toys, sheets, etc., that are primarily pink. If they are a little pink plus other colors – fine. But anything mostly pink or covered with licensed characters won’t come in. Like @LetToysBeToys and Pink It or Lump It, I’m gonna lump it. I’ll call my resolution Operation Unpink.
I don’t plan to discriminate universally against the color pink. Under the right circumstances, I actually like pink. Nor will I judge parents who buy pink stuff; after all, there’s no right way to parent. I just hope maybe the pendulum will swing back in the other direction a bit if I jerk the wheel a little. Who’s with me?
As for what we WILL buy, I love supporting our local shops. I’ve met the owner of our local toy store; she is interested in keeping my patronage and carries a wide selection of excellent toys that meet my needs. We won’t need many new toys this year though because Santa is also bringing our girls some gently used toys that his elves repaired. In our home, Santa understands the value of the Three Rs.
(n.b. For further study on this topic, I suggest reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter, which discusses pinkification in more detail. TIME published an interesting article on the reaction to the GoldiBlox ad campaign, and NPR’s On Point covered the topic recently as well).