It’s that time of year again, when children of all ages come home from school each day to pore over the Costume Express catalog and change their minds about what they want to be for Halloween a hundred and fifty times.
After several days of hefty consideration, the boys have made their final decisions. Connor’s going to be Harry Potter, which is kind of a hack choice; I think half his class went as Harry or Hermione last year (same costume). I pointed this out to no avail. Still, it’s better than Seamus’s costume:
Apparently this is some Star Wars character named Cad Bane. I say it’s Freddy Krueger meets the Sleestaks from Land of the Lost, and I can’t think of a less cute costume for my 6 year old, but adorability is not really what he’s going for.
Maggie, no surprise, is having a much harder time deciding. And that’s my fault. She first said she wanted to be a “pink piggy,” but the only costume like that I could find was 1) $44.99 and 2) awful. NOT cute. And goshdarn it, my 2 year old WILL be cute on Halloween if it’s the last thing I do.
So I start clicking around the internet, and Seamus suddenly yells, “Mom! That’s perfect!”
And I mean, it is, isn’t it? But Maggie took one look and shook her head.
“Dat for boys,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Girls can be popcorn for Halloween.”
She looked at me like I was an idiot.
“No dem can’t,” she explained, “because the popcorn’s not pink.”
Where in the world did my two-year-old get the idea that if something isn’t pink or sparkly, it cannot be for her? Are all girls just hardwired to be obsessed with pink, at least until pre-K? I’m reading a book this week that would suggest otherwise. It’s an advance reader’s copy of a nbook by Peggy Orenstein, coming out in January, called Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. First of all: best. title. ever.
Since it’s not out until January, I’ll wait to give you my review until it’s in stores, but here’s a sneak preview: this is a must-read for anyone with a young daughter. I have written before about my conflicted views on Maggie’s love affair with pink, and bewilderment as to where it came from. Peggy Orenstein has a few ideas about that, and I am regarding Maggie’s gender-selecting everything in her world with a new and heightened sense of dismay. Sure, I insisted on wearing a dress to school every day of kindergarten, but it didn’t have to be pink, or have a blasted Disney Princess plastered to its front. And I don’t think it entered my Halloween costume considerations at all.
After ruling out the popcorn, Maggie chose this costume–
which okay, I’ll admit, is freaking ADORABLE. But the pink is wagging the dog, here: if that cupcake had white frosting with blue dots, I don’t think she’d be gunning for it.
Here’s the problem I see with the gender-sorting: Maggie thinks that anything that isn’t pink (or sometimes purple) isn’t for girls. That rules out many of the toys and clothes out there, to say nothing of the boardrooms at Fortune 500 companies and our nation’s institutes of higher learning. She’ll probably outgrow the pink obsession soon enough, but… do you see this “that’s for girls, that’s for boys” behavior in your daughters? And does it unsettle you?