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April 17, 2005

Lipgloss, ladybugs, and pink didees

For as much as conversations about gender have opened up in university classrooms, it seems like in the world of parenting a three year old, it's still all about pink and blue, dolls and trucks. A friend of mine commented once that she tried to get her boys interested in dolls, but they never were and gravitated to trucks instead. I don't know--I think it's all a little more complicated than dolls and trucks, and I also think that the societal messages about what a good girl/boy is are more prevalent than we think.

For Halloween, our son Jurgen wanted to be a ladybug. He was absolutely THRILLED to find a ladybug costume, after looking ambivalently at all of the other choices. Since then, he has continued to be fascinated by ladybugs--he just pocketed a dead ladybug he dug out of the windowsill at Davanni's the other night. I wouldn't be surprised if he wants to be a ladybug again next year--he'll be another cute ladybug, for sure.

Earlier this week, when we were out shopping, Jurgen found a little purse full of lipglosses, and naturally, one was in the shape of a ladybug. Of course, he couldn't leave without it, and now he's slathering lipgloss all over his body (and ours, on the rare moments when we'll let him). The other night, he even fell asleep with the ladybug lip gloss in his hand--he's so cute!

The thing that really frustrates me these days is that he wants to wear pull-ups instead of didees, and while I don't have a clear problem with that, I DO have a problem with the fact that most pullups are either pink or blue. It is true that some simply have Elmo on all of them, and others don't have characters that are trademarked, but three year olds are little emperors and they know what they want. I wish there were more character choices that weren't just pink and blue. Well, as it turns out, this week, Jurgen is really into the Cinderella pullups. A visitor to our house these days might find a half-naked kid in a pink pullup, putting on lipgloss out of a ladybug container. Without knowing us, you might have no idea if Jurgen's a boy or a girl--and that's the way we like it. I still maintain that until the time comes when gender expectations of my child are more rigid, I want Jurgen to feel like it's all within limits, pink didees and all.

Posted by chri1010 at April 17, 2005 12:26 AM


My almost-5-year-old nephew likes dolls AND trucks, and is also really keen on makeup (much to the amusement of his mother and the dismay of his father). I think it's cute. He's also a little obsessed with the whole Disney princesses thing (following a trip to Disneyworld last fall), which I think just goes to show that brilliant marketing crosses gender lines.

There's certainly time enough for gender socialization later on -- they'll get it whether you want them to or not.

Posted by: Stacie at April 17, 2005 10:24 AM

Good for you--and for Jurgen! My girls are not that into their Barbies (which, despite our explicit instructions, were given to them as gifts by relatives) but they LOVE their "Teen Titans" action figures and playsets. I've budged a little in terms of my "no violence" beliefs in order for them to fantasize via this powerful, capable, fun group of young girls and boys.

Posted by: Yvette at April 17, 2005 12:14 PM

i think u should not be strong on him and gently put him in the boyish direction by taking him to a baseball game or encouraging him to play with boys often before hes to old to realize your pushing him which could reeally hurt him feelings. indroduce him to manly disney chartacters along with the princesses and let things flow because your son is best when he is truly the individual you want him to be.

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