by Michele Yulo
Yesterday I was in Sports Authority looking for protective gear for my nine-year-old daughter who plays baseball. As we were wandering through the department, I happened to overhear a young girl, who was with her dad and older brother, say that she wished the girls stuff came in colors other than pink. Of course, this made my ears perk and I looked over to see a young, blonde girl wearing a bright pink baseball helmet carrying a pink bat. I heard her say to her dad wearily, "Everything for girls is pink," as the three walked away from the "boy" bat section where her brother had been looking. She was wearing a pink v-necked t-shirt that said "I'm Trouble" and a fuschia hoodie.
I couldn't help myself. I looked over at her and said, "Yeah, it would be nice if there were more options for girls, huh?" She said, "Yeah." I then noted her pink attire to which she responded sheepishly, "Well...I...like pink. But what about blue? Or green?" It amazed me that she was so aware of the color limitation for girls. Her father joined us and seemed to agree. "Yeah," he said nodding. I pointed over to Gabi, my daughter, and told the girl that she played baseball. I added, "She never really liked pink so we have always shopped in boys sections." It seemed to me that, while her father agreed that there was little else available for girls, they never went into the boy aisle to shop.
The little girl's name was Allie--she was eight. I asked her if she liked playing baseball to which her father said, "She grew up playing in our backyard with her brother Jack. She can hit a ball like nobody's business." I found out that Allie's brother played baseball at the same park as my daughter only in the next age group up. Allie was going to start playing in the local girls softball league--hence the reason they were shopping. I told her that I had a company called Princess Free Zone that was trying to offer girls more than pink and that I made t-shirts that had designs with things like dinosaurs and tools. She smiled and said, "That's cool." Hesitating for a second, she added, "You should go on that tv show...Shark Tank!" Needless to say, that gave me a good chuckle! We chatted a bit more. I wished her good luck and told her father we'd probably see them around the ball fields.
As they walked away, I couldn't help but wonder how many little girls feel like Allie. They may like pink, but they like a lot of other colors too. And maybe the reason they're wearing all pink is because that's what they see when they walk into girls departments and are taught not to look past those gender boundaries marked "boy" and "girl." So how do we know if they like the color pink because they're programmed to or because they actually chose it? We don't. What I do know is that other colors do exist and girls deserve to see them all. And some personal advice to the young girl wearing a tee that said, "I'M TROUBLE": You're NOT TROUBLE! Keep questioning. Keep playing ball. You are AWESOME!"
[Picture of my character, TooLula, breaking down the pink aisle.]