15 November 2010

Boys Wear Pink

It doesn't bother me too much that people assume Muffin is a boy. Not knowing before she was born if she would be a boy or girl, I bought lots of gender-neutral clothing that ends up looking like boy's clothing if it's not paired with something pink or ruffly. I don't mind pink, but I'm not much of a ruffly girl myself, so Muffin is dressed as a little tomboy most of the time. She's a baby. She looks like a baby. I don't mind if you ask if she's a boy or girl because you can't tell from her clothing. At her age it's impossible to tell without clothing clues.

Here in India, people have been walking up and asking if she's a little boy. I assumed it was because boys are traditionally more celebrated than girls* so the natural tendency was to assume all babies are boys. I stepped up the pink clothing to nudge people along into thinking she's a girl. People went from asking "Boy or girl?" to asking "Boy?" and I'd get looks of surprise when I replied, "No, girl."

Then I learned that boys wear pink here. Baby boys are dressed in pink tunics and their hair is grown out long. So the more pink I added to Muffin's outfits, the more she looked like a boy to people here.

In the long run, it doesn't really matter what color her clothes are. Babies and young children are celebrated here. No, really, it's not just that babies and kids are cute universally. Yesterday was Children's Day, a national holiday where kids are allowed to run around eating more candy than usual. Muffin's cheeks are constantly being pinched by strangers before I can stop them. On the flip side, you don't get looks of reproach when you have a screaming baby out in public.

*I don't know if this is throughout the whole country or only certain regions, but I've heard it's against the law to find out before the birth if the baby is a boy or a girl.


Cara Lopez Lee said...

I find it fascinating when familiar cultural signals mean different things in different countries, especially when they mean something completely opposite. I'm going to link to this on my Girls Trek Too Facebook group.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the link! I joined your group.

Linsey said...

Great post about assumptions and how they often turn out not just to be wrong, but fascinating too.

Phoebe Diamond said...

Pink pink boys wear pink
What color one wears is amazing in terms of the perception others have of you. Put Mike in a purple button front and watch the way people deal with him. Especially if he's wearing black slacks. Get married in the US wearing a red dress and people look at you oddly. But in China it's a color of celebration. Put the little in a rainbow top and see what people say.