Back to school

The new school year has arrived with a bump and I’ve had a dose of writer’s block. So here goes with some brief updates and a hint of what’s to come from Pinkstinks.

Over the summer we’ve been following a few stories in the press which have been shining examples of how our celebrity culture outcasts anyone who dares to be different. I was chuffed to hear Angelina Jolie‘s response to some of the press’s savage reporting on the clothes that her daughter Shiloh wears and her hair cut. The girl is 4 years old. Jolie was forced into making a public statement about it in fact, which seems absurd, but the reporting was so horrendous I suspect she felt she had little choice. In doing so I think that she made a valuable and even brave public statement which will have touched many more people than I expect she thought it might. So in case you’re reading this Angelina – if you could get in touch we’d love to work with you.

While my sister and I were away over the summer we were excited to meet up with the founder of Princess Free Zone – one of the many organisations across the World which we’ve come across whilst working on the campaign. Michele came to Rochester, NY, where we were visiting family, from her home in Atlanta, Georgia. We spent a wonderful three hours (under some evergreens in a campsite) sharing our stories so far and talking over our plans for the future. She’s determined and she’s great fun so please offer all the support you can to her project. It’s going to be big. Most importantly we want, and need, to build these alliances across the world if we are ever going to be able to make a meaningful dent in all this nonsense going on around us. So, Michele – look forward to working with you in the future and that trip to London.

This week GirlGuidingUK launched their 2010 research into girls’ attitudes towards to a range of topics such Health and Well-being, Society, Culture and Community. There are some interesting findings in there both positive and negative – many of the negatives having been reported widely in the press. Girls worry about the pressure to look sexy springs to mind. The reports are well worth a read.

Girlguiding UK continue to do excellent work on reporting the experience of girls today but an article in the Guardian’s Comment is Free section highlighted a very valid point. Considering how girls react to, and are affected by, the pressures around them, in isolation of boys’ feelings towards to the same pressures leaves a gaping hole. That’s not to say that girls don’t face some particularly extreme pressures. But it’s foolish to think that it’s only girls who are affected by what they see around them.

We’ve often been asked why we focus mainly on products which are aimed at girls and have had many parents asking us to broaden our work into marketing messages which are aimed at boys. We made a conscious decision to remain firmly where we currently are, not least because we don’t have the resources to do more at the moment. But it’s important, I think, to point out that while we do focus on the ‘culture of pink’, the impact of it is felt by both girls and boys. What does it say to boys about what girls are like is a crucial question and one that we aim to address.

We are cranking up our activity following the summer break so please keep in touch and watch this space for more news to come.

Coming soon – The Paperchase Saga. Ah yes … it’s a goodie …

5 responses to “Back to school

  1. Great to see you back, look forward to reading more!

  2. You’re right the culture of pink affects boys and girls, and boys’ view of girls. And later, men’s view of women. And so, all of us. So keeping your focus makes sense. I will be watching this space!

  3. The ‘culture of pink’ directly impacts boys’ understanding of their own identity as well as that of girls. Boys are taught that looking pretty, the fun of dressing up, nurturing roles and many more concepts are not for them, and so are often denied the opportunity to explore life fully, both its joys and its challenges. Boys who do feel drawn to more pinkified parts of our culture are likely to feel conflicted and isolated and will potentially suffer from teasing or worse.

    I understand the true mission of Pinkstinks not to be the eventual destruction of the colour pink, or traditionally ‘feminine’ activities, for ever and ever (!) but to reclaim pink and all it currently stands for as gender neutral. Boys as well as girls would benefit from being seen as individuals rather than being defined purely by their gender.

  4. Seconding GG, and looking forward to your take on Paperchase! I’ve stopped buying from them since I heard about the marketing director’s tosspot response to the email, so I’d be pleased to hear that the whole sorry business is getting a bit more attention.

  5. welcome back! really looking forward to hearing what your new plans are. Is there any time to look at 5 year olds and make-up – not the rummaging about mama’s make up/role play type game but the stuff aimed at girls from age 3? I’m kind of freaking about it and no-one else where I live seems to think it’s a great issue. Any thoughts from others would be great. Or even better an article, has it become more widespread? Is it my imagination? Thanks so much guys.

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