Early Learning Centre – Early Learning Emergency by May Carolan


“You can make a difference, even if it seems impossible.”

Those are the words of 13 year old Philip Johansson from Sweden.

Around this time last year Philipe, his classmate Ebba Silvert and a group of school friends decided that the Christmas catalogue of US toy giant Toys ‘R’ Us wasn’t for them. They were so outraged that the boys in the catalogue were portrayed as active and the girls as passive, they formulated a case and reported the store to Sweden’s Advertising Ombudsman.

Agreeing with the children, the authority declared the Toys ‘R’ Us catalogue “discriminates based on gender and counteracts positive social behaviour, lifestyles, and attitudes” and the company was issued with a public reprimand.

Because of those children, this year the catalogue is set to change.

If you’ve taken a look at our ‘Voices’ page, you’ll know we interviewed Philipe and Ebba as a great examples of positive role models. They fought for something they believed in and they made a difference.

Pinkstinks wants to make that kind of difference too. We want to show toy companies that girls don’t have to be prissy in pink, indeed as the Swedish youngsters proved – they don’t always want to be.

This Christmas and every Christmas, we want girls to know they can be whatever they want to be, regardless of what retailers want to sell them. We believe that companies have a responsibility and a duty to encourage girls to use their imaginations and be inspired to explore, as widely as they can, the world of possibilities that is out there for them.

To do this, we need your help …

Early Learning Centre – Early Learning Emergency

At Early Learning Centre, we do all we can to help mums help children grow into happy, self-confident people.

We create fantastic toys – toys that help develop vital skills, toys that help children get off to the best possible start, and toys that are tremendous fun.

All our toys are designed to help children explore the boundaries of their imaginations and creativity, to make learning fun and help children be all they can be.

– Early Learning Centre ‘mission statement’ on their UK website

Mention its name and for many adults the Early Learning Centre will invokes happy memories of wooden toys and educational flash cards. Its ‘mission’ statement supports this ideology, but a quick glance at its catalogue and a walk around its stores tells quite a different story.

Pinkstinks believes the Early Learning Centre is acting irresponsibly.

In our opinion, the pages of passive, beauty-centred products in its catalogue, and a website where the search facility groups toys by gender, seem to suggest that for today’s children ‘the boundaries of their imaginations’ are being sadly limited. It’s too rigid and sorrowfully reminiscent of an era when expectations for girls were restricted to the roles of wife and mother. The Early Learning Centre doesn’t seem to be offering or actively promoting a choice for girls outside of normative gender constructs. In the stores there are no labels explicitly stating that some toys are for ‘boys’ and others for ‘girls’, but walk through the doors and immediately the swathes of pastel pink all along one side clearly signpost to a child what’s for them and what isn’t. Girls go one way, boys another – without even thinking about it. And we’re not convinced having a few pictures of girls playing with construction toys and making an ironing board available in pink and blue is enough. It feels like tokenism and we expect and hope for more from companies like the Early Learning Centre. We don’t believe this is real choice – more an illusion of choice.

The Early Learning Centre is by no means the sole culprit when it comes to gender stereotyping. It is not exclusively to blame and it didn’t cause the problems we now see arising. Pinkstinks does not wish to demonise the Early Learning Centre, it’s just that we anticipate and expect more from it. As a company which specifically promotes itself in relation to ‘learning’ and which so strongly states its good intentions, we want it to openly and publicly recommit to promoting positive learning experiences for children – boys and girls – which are non-gender specific, exciting and stimulating for all.

Join us in showing the Early Learning Centre that as mums and dads, concerned citizens, individuals and importantly as consumers, we want more for our girls and boys. Help us remind the company it has a corporate responsibility to abide by its ‘mission statement’ and help children grow into “happy, self-confident people” unhindered by narrow and damaging messages about what it is to be a girl or a boy.

Pinkstinks has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Born out of the frustration of two sisters and grown into what it is today with a little help from their friends, Pinkstinks is ready to take on a giant and we hope you come along for the ride. But we don’t just want to moan and complain, we want to assist the Early Learning Centre in improving its service to children. We want to help it be the best that it can be.

So come, be a part of something great and maybe this time next year the Early Learning Centre’s Christmas catalogue will have changed too.

Let’s follow the lead of Philipe, Ebba and their friends, because those 13 years olds proved that you can make a difference and sometimes, just sometimes, the underdogs do win!

Visit our website for our call to action – this is what we want you to do to support the campaign.

60 responses to “Early Learning Centre – Early Learning Emergency by May Carolan

  1. I don’t mind my daughter having some pink clothes, bedding etc but I draw the line at pink toys that do not need to be pink e.g globes, ovens, cars, bikes etc. This is a money-making scheme by retailers (if you buy a pink globe for your little girl then you feel that you have to buy a non-pink globe for your little boy) – clever marketing if parents don’t see through it!

  2. This campaign is completely ridiculous. Grown up men wear pink clothing so I dont see how this campaign thinks it is helping young girls by banning clothes or toys they may want just because of the colour. It is only a colour.

  3. Have you honestly got nothing better to do with your time than campaign against this. Sad

  4. […..] why isn’t this campaign attcking boys toys too if it’s aimed at equality….and moderating comments is showing biased on a blog!

  5. When I had my children in the 70s clothes and toys were all different colours so parents and children could have a real choice. No-one is trying to abolish pink, but it is becoming so insidious that it is hard to find anything else for girls. It also stereotypes children (both girls and boys) so that girls think they can only play with kitchens, dolls, fairies, princesses etc and boys have dinosaurs, cars and action toys. All children should have a real and open choice so they can develop in whatever they like.

  6. It seems Harriet and John have failed to understand the bigger picture. It is more than “only a colour” as the pink toys are related to either domestic jobs or dressing up like a princess. Have we not moved on from these restrictive stereotypes? They hardly encourage women to expand their horizons.

    Also pink has been boxed into the corner as a “girl’s colour”. Harriet, how many grown men do you know who actually wear pink on a regular basis?

    And John, have you got nothing better to do than comment on this if you think its such a waste of time? Really sad.

  7. Colour in its pure chromatic sense has no gender distinctions. It is the commodification and corruption of colour (in this case pink) that perpetrates the gender distinctions that this article and the campaign seems to be seeking to counter.

    However colours are not just subject to gender distinctions but also to those of class. Bright colours are often used as signifiers of the working class, as crude and unsophisticated where muted colours can be viewed as more refined and tasteful, used to represent inherent middle class values.

    Finally, Jim Parsons makes a spurious counter arguement to those whose opinions he decries. Just because a respondent does or does not know many men who routinely wear pink cannot be used as an accurate indicator as its cultural prevalence (or otherwise). In the (still overwhelmingly masculine) corporate world for example, pink shirts are accepted and largely undiscussed attire and hardly seen as a ‘girls colour’.

  8. Its true, I am a terrible human being prone to sweeping generalizations and half truths. Although, A Newman’s example can quite easily be countered with manufacturing, construction, the armed forces and of course the school playground.

  9. A salient well made point. On a less serious note, the use for pink camouflage would surely be negligible.

    Of Direct relevance to the well written and argued article and also to Jim Parsons earlier comments would be a passing glance to the world of sport and in particular Rugby Union.

    Stade Français play in a pink kit, a glance in their online shop shows clothing and other merchandise dominated by the colour pink. Whilst the items sold are too numerous to list, there are items aimed at children and adults, ranging from rugby balls, t-shirts, ties and duvet covers. Items aimed at (as studies have shown) the still overwhelmingly male playing and viewing demographic of Rugby Union.

    This is an example of the commodification of colour, yet also conversely in blurring the gender distinctions perpetrated by large corporate entities in their corruption of colour. Something the Early Learning Centre could use as an example in some corporate blue… or rather pink sky thinking.

  10. not all pink toys are related to domestic toys – pink lego, pink k-nex etc.

  11. As a fairly frequent pink-wearing man (at least once a week, sometimes twice) I agree with Harriet.

    My 13 year old daughter chooses to own and wear pink clothing (and blue). She also likes pink (and blue) toys. Sometimes she will push the boat out and do something in green. Her mother and I have never pushed her into pink things. We prefere to let her choose. Given that she is home taught, she has less opportunity to be influenced by peer pressure and it is noticable that those other girls she does interact with seem to like to wear a range of colours and none of them have gone into the ‘princess’ thing in a great way.

    This whole site stinks of post-modern New Labour authoritarianism (and no, I don’t vote conservative). I came across it via a cross link from a media story and was sufficiently motivated to post a comment.

    I still agree with Voltaire, but things like this do tend to push it to the limit.

  12. Can I just say that my two grandsons (aged 4 & 6) enjoy playing with the barbie house and dolls as much as the two granddaughters (both aged 4). Likewise the girls enjoy playing with the cars and roadmat.

    And that all four will sit and paint each others nails with nail varnish – usually pink!!

    Sorry but little girls do not see pink as being stereotyped.. they just like the colour!

  13. If you look at the ELC online, they seem to have a well balanced selection of toys in all colours. There are pink toys, but SO WHAT! Many girls like pink (including my daughter). If you don’t like pink, don’t buy it, but let others make that choice for themselves. Trying to make some sort of confused politically correct statement about a colour is doing nobody any favours, least of all girls.

  14. Don’t listen to these comments, they are missing the point entirely. I think it’s about time someone acted on this and reminded people of their freedom of expression. All this negative press is coming from people that feel threatened – they should understand you’re not attacking anyone but merely trying to open people’s eyes. Keep strong and I wish you the best of luck.

  15. I personally find it repulsive when out Christmas Shopping to have to avoid a large sea of purely pink toys marketed solely at girls – this campaign is merely a way to go back to the days when all toys were available in all colours for all children, without having to argue with my son against girls telling him that “pink is a girls’ colour” – and all the marketing from ads saying “buy this pink phone for your daughter”. I would hate to be told as a girl that I must only have pink things – being an artist. The only good thing that’s pink is the Pink Panther, and who knows what gender that is!!! Check out my blog 😉

  16. This is a joke right? If not, i dont get it.
    Pink is a colour. Its the meaning that people give to a colour. Same like you, because this organisation believes as a girl wears pink its not possible for women to develop them as strong and independent womans…Well, in that case you never seen Mega Mindy before, its a semi cartoon Belgium child serie. Mega Mindy wears pink semilair clothes when see is fighting crime, because see is a super hero….So PINK can be used as a strong colour, so ANTI PINK, its so childish!! as well as asking donations, come on!!

  17. Funny and sad that people have picked up on the pink as a clour rather than the pink as a symbol aspect.

    What sort of response has anyone had from ELC?

  18. piero de salvia

    What a sad waste of time and money.

    Pink is a color.

    Once you MAKE girls not wear pink, you replace it with what?

    You are forbidding a COLOR. Next thing you will be forbidding long hair right?

    Or maybe you will forbid males from ever saying “you are beautiful” to a woman and mark it as hate speech?

    How sad and misguided…

  19. I don’t really get this. If you don’t like pink… don’t buy pink things and you’re home free. And if you’ve got a young daughter (like I do) who happens to like pink then feel free to try to explain to her how critical it is that she is doesn’t and see how far you get.

    Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand pink everywhere I look, but what you going to do, seriously?

  20. I’m completely with the pinkstinks campaign. I’m also concerned by the gender-specific pronoun used in ELC’s mission statement:

    “At Early Learning Centre, we do all we can to help mums help children grow into happy, self-confident people.”

    Is it only mums that care about a child’s growth?

    Gender-specific langauge and the semantics of colour pervade our life without question. People assume my daughter is a boy because she has a turquoise pushchair and blue wellies, and that’s why I’m all for pinkstinks.

  21. “Pink stinks.”

    Terrible name, headline-grabbing, but full of negativity and blame. I appreciate this is not aimed at children (so hopefully you won’t get playgrounds of girls being told they ‘stink’ for wearing the colour). Nonetheless, I don’t think it encourages people to think, and sets up an antagonistic relationship with those who you might want to persuade.

    What is it about?

    The website says you’re against ‘culture of pink’, which doesn’t tell me much. Possibly the website is still in progress, but it’s not very clear what you mean. So I check the facebook group.

    “We believe that the media’s obsession with stick-thin models, footballers’ wives, and overtly sexualised pop stars is denying girls their right to aspire to and learn from real role models. PinkStinks aims to redress the balance by providing girls with positive female role models – chosen because of their achievements, skills, accomplishments and successes.”

    I would strongly agree with all of this. I am a father with a small child, and I want her to grow up being confident, self-assertive, intelligent and lots of other things, too. Girls really need positive role models; and we have become a very sexualised, consumer-driven society, and they need to be able to cope with that. Boys, I suspect, have a parallel set of problems in the modern world – but, fair enough, you want to campaign about girls.

    However, this just seems *totally* different to me from claiming that gender-based marketing/branding of products is damaging to girls, and, in particular, that using pink as the ‘girl’ colour (which, indeed, is widespread) is damaging. All marketing/advertising is insidious – that’s how it works – and all children need to be educated about it. But we surely have always had gender-targetted products? Didn’t all the ‘girls toys’ in my childhood (1970s) have flowers, or other gender signifiers? I always knew there was a ‘girls’ set of toys and a ‘boys’ and some that overlapped. I am not yet convinced that there is a direct line from my three year old’s pink unicorn to a career in pole-dancing, or marrying Wayne Rooney.

    You list role models; and you have links to books that might flesh out your argument. My suggestion is that:

    1. you first concentrate on creating a great site telling girls about role models for women – video interviews? – life stories of these women? – how they made the choices that took them to the top? you seem to have media-savvy people on board …

    2. you should present clear, cogent arguments, with examples (again, perhaps video documentary) about coloured products and their effects on children. Linking to books simply doesn’t do much for your cause, if people have to invest a tenner to even consider the argument being presented. Can you get Ed Mayo to write something in more detail for you?

    At the moment, and I say this as someone who sympathises with establishing positive role models for girls etc., the website looks so like preaching to the converted. It’s all a bit shouty, not that clearly laid out; the positive side of things is not in the foreground and you have a principal target (ELC) who has limited influence on children’s lives (cf. the world-wide reach of Disney). Indeed, if you go in their store (or, at least, the Westfield branch I’m familiar with) there are many many products which aren’t gender-themed, which doesn’t help your argument.

  22. As was pointed out, pink is being used as a symbolic representation of gender stereotypes and the respective power of multi-nationals (amongst others) to reinforce those stereotypes. The campaign is to challenge those perceptions, not to banish, forbid or prohibit the use of pink.

    Campaigns such as this at the very least provoke debate and if successful, effect change. In a democratic society such debates should be welcomed whether one agrees with them or not. Blind acceptance of the status quo (highlighted by this campaign) results in the illusion of choice, not in genuine choice.

    Even if some responders are making uninformed, hackneyed and reactionary comments about the campaign (and wider issues) at least they are engaging in it.

    An excellent article and a campaign that deserves support.

  23. I’m sorry but I don’t get it. As a father of 3-year-old girl….

    a) She likes pink. Really. We’ve never encouraged it, she just does. When I let her choose her plate for dinner, she always chooses the pink one.

    b) Most of her toys are unisex, aimed at neither gender, e.g. making animals out of components. She likes playing with them.

    What’s the issue?

  24. wow – insecurities abound

    judging from the hysteria, anger and vitriol displayed on here PinkStinks has clearly touched a nerve – it’s just a shame that so many comments totaly totally miss the point

  25. I’m a man, but I hate the pinkification of little girls and from birth I was determined to prevent my little girl becoming pink-i-fied. Alas she’s far too strong willed. One of her friends’ mums was an “everything pink” type and so my daughter decided pink was her favourite colour too.

    It’s gutting, but at least I can rest in the knowledge that she’s sufficiently strong willed not to take any crap when she gets older.


  26. The funny thing is the people who go on and on about pink being a girl’s color…. are they so ignorant of history as to not be aware that it was a male color up until the start of the 20th century? BECAUSE it was a bold, and therefore masculine, statement? Just like make-up wasn’t so much about prettying up – it’s about emasculating oneself – eyeliner and mascara were to imitate the boldness of male eyes, not about ‘looking hot’ or whatever the heck! 🙂

    Anyways, history lesson aside – I appreciate your efforts. I believe strongly in freedom of choice, and when it’s near-on impossible to find anything for a small girlchild that isn’t in pink or tramping them up (good lawd!), I tend to be a bit resentful! It’s one thing if a child him or herself chooses pink, but it’s a completely ‘nother ball of wax when it’s the only choice/non-choice.

    Keep up the good work! 🙂

  27. I support the inalienable human right of every girl (and boy) to like, wear and choose pink in clothes or objects. Do you people have no idea how retarded and oppressive you are? You underestimate (and try to take away) the ability of a child to choose what it likes. If a girl or boy wants to be a princess or be beautiful, why repress it? I played princess when I was six or so.

  28. Replacing pink is quite easy, brown and red or green or blue are beautiful colors.
    But pink is not JUST a color: it’s the symbolism that’s behind it which is scary!!
    It’s the “I’ll be a princess” ideal that someone put in it that we should be afraid of.
    Because this is it: someone is deciding how we should “look like” “think” “try to be”. And if you start buying your child a pink crib from the moment you know that that fetus is a girl, than it must be wrong.
    Wearing pink as an option is ok, but not as a proof that you are a girl/woman/female.
    Said that, I am waiting for the day men will start wearing more pink, no I don’t mean fuchsia…really pig-pink. Tell me when it happens.

  29. yes early learning centre have a search by gender, you can also pick both! And the boys section also has a kitchen and role play items! My son had disney princess dolls when he was younger, because he wanted them. The whole point of the UK is freedom of choice. If I had a daughter I would buy her pink things and princesses, do I think this would harm her… er no, just like I dont think it harmed my son having blue toys and blue clothes, or having a kitchen or playing with dolls. As his mother it is up to me what he has and doesn’t have, not some loonatic that has nothing better to do. Get a life and fight a real cause

  30. You clearly have some important messages to convey about child development, the malign influence of the media, and so on, but your name is very misleading. Pink stuff is not the problem. My daughters (now aged 8 and 12) both went through pink ‘phases’ at about 3-4 years old and came out the other side. They were neither encouraged nor discouraged about this, but allowed to be themselves, and that is surely the most important point. You may be in danger of alienating yourselves and confining support for your laudable campaign to the ‘right-on’ element, who would probably already agree with you anyway. Children face considerably bigger challenges to their emotional development in the 21st century than the colour pink. How about a new name? Just an opinion…

  31. Why try to ban a colour? I think there needs to be a good selction of toys in all colours. I don’t think anyone should be trying to ban toys which relate to the domestic sphere either. Some girls want to grow up and have children and be domestic rather than having a career. Surely in the 21st century we shouldn’t be ing to stop children having such aspirations? That is as bad as saying the domestic sphere is the only one girls can aspire to.

  32. Just wanted to add some support, not just from myself but also my teenage daughter who is sitting next to me and adamant that girls really don’t need to have pink rammed down their throats. I can remember very depressing bithday parties with make-up, pink jewellery, glitter fairy stuff in dull heaps. Felt unavoidable.

    So yes its all about freedom of choice – and giving girls and boys more of a choice. And a bit more fun too.

  33. “We don’t believe this is real choice – more an illusion of choice.”

    No, it’s real choice, honest – you can buy want you want, or go to a different shop..

  34. I have to say I love ‘Twisted Twee’ with their subversive baby onesies – pink with a bambi, and BOY written on it; blue with a truck and GIRL written on it.

  35. at a practical level my nine year old daughter will wear only blue (plain; no pattern; if it has an embroidered flower on it, forget it).

    but i rarely find anything suitable for her thanks to the dominance of girly clothing much of which i have to say has a pink part.

    on the plus side soon she will be a teenager and our choice then will be limited to black.

    with studs.

  36. Pingback: Pink Is Not Bad « IDeary

  37. I have just read ‘The Power of Pink’ in today’s Guardian. I may have missed something but pink has traditionally been the identifying colour for homosexuals. This dates from WWII when the nazis forced them to wear pink triangles in concentration camps. That the gay community have adopted this colour as their own is intended to be ironic. The pink pound owes nothing to the trade in pink trash for kids!!

  38. The Sanctimommy

    I’m in the States, but I love what you’re doing! This has been something that has bugged me since my daughter was born and I decided I wanted a red and white room for her… apparently it’s illegal to market anything in primary colors that doesn’t have dump trucks or army soldiers on it.

    Now that I have both a son and a daughter, I’m always upset by all the comments people make about what my 9 month old son can play with or touch or do: I put him on a blanket on the floor at the house of a friend who has a little girl, and she immediately offered to go and get him a different colored blanket because that one was pink. He was three months old! He probably couldn’t even SEE the color… but apparently it’s important to beat it into them as early as can be that boys can’t go anywhere near pink.

    If anything, I find these strict gender constricts to be even more confining for boys. Because it’s still socially acceptable to be a rebel and buy the construction toys for girls, but heaven forbid you have a boy with a doll.

  39. Incredible amount of ignorance here about the nature of this campaign. “Pinkstinks” is not trying to ban pink, or even discourage girls from wearing or liking it.

    It is trying to counteract the effect of toy companies making *everything* for girls in pink. At the moment, girls are shoehorned into liking pink, and prevented from making free choices.

    This comment is particularly ironic:

    “I support the inalienable human right of every girl (and boy) to like, wear and choose pink in clothes or objects. … You underestimate (and try to take away) the ability of a child to choose what it likes.”

    If your first sentence is true, Vincent, you ought to support this campaign with all your heart. This is not about removing pink, it is about adding other options to create a genuine choice.

  40. by the way, neither Snowwhite or Sleeping beauty had a pink dress.
    So, when and where did it all started with the pink craze?
    Maybe finding the source of it would teach us a lot about the meaning of it too.


    have a look at that and tell me!!

  41. Read the article in the Guardian today, which summed up my unvoiced rantings. I don’t have daughters but my youngest son now refuses to play with girls on the basis that everything is pink, meanwhile my friends’ daughters refuse to play with ‘boy’s toys’. As a culture this is grooming girls to have no interest in activities not deemed appropriate for ‘pink’

  42. I feel really we ought to be encouraging boys towards pink rather than simply pulling girls away from it. We shouldn’t necessarily be replacing it but equalising it in a positive way…

  43. Believe it or not, your campaign is actually making things worse for girls. You are telling them that things pink and feminine are not good enough for them, and they must aspire to things traditionally enjoyed by boys. All this will do will reinforce the position held by many men and boys that girly things are beneath them.

    If you want to work for equality, you should be attacking the problem from the other end and getting *boys* to wear pink and to play with dolls. The response of society to that will give you some idea of how impossible it will be to achieve any sort of *real* equality.

  44. thank you for this, as a mother of a very ‘tomboy’ 8 year old girl I find it extremely frustrating buying clothes and toys to have to make the choice between ‘girls’ ones and ‘boys’ ones. You would think in the 21st century we would have moved beyond this for our daughters. People are right, it is not about the colour alone, but there is enormous stereotyping of children according to their gender. try buying your daughter a pair of plain jeans and you will see how hard it is – there are very few without pink stitching or sparkly bits!

  45. Oh, thank you!! You are exactly what I have been looking for since having a daughter almost 6 years ago!! We both think that pinkstinks, and that these insipid princesses suck!! The worst think is that the learning toys aimed at boys are educating them about nature/science and girls get beads, nails and make-up! WTF??? I am so proud that my girl likes dinosuars, bugs and cars, which seems to me normal for a kid, not sex dressed up as play!

  46. There are several things wrong with this article. For one thing, there has never been a time in history when women’s expectations were confined solely to being wives and mothers. Most women had to work for a living in past times whether they liked it or not.

    For another thing, what is wrong with being a wife and mother anyway? As a wife and mother myself I rather resent the implication that this is a worthless thing to be.

    Furthermore, shops are in businesss to make money. They sell what people want to buy. And most little girls like pink shiny things.

    Honestly, I think this campaign is highly insulting to women, girls, to everyone in fact. The implication is that girls are helpless victims without any ability to decide for themselves what they like or do not like.

  47. Sorry guys but this reeks of bra burning, and I thought we had come a long way on from that. I am and always have been a moderate feminist (if such there is); brought a daughter up on my own to cherish education and ambition – whether by male or female – and have struck out on my own highways and byways through trust and hard work. I have two grandchildren – a boy of eight and a girl of five. They have been brought up with love, great care and neutrality by my daughter and son-in-law. My grand-daughter adores pink and has done since she was about eighteen months; she also absolutely loves lavender, yellow, red, blue, purple and white. Especially with wings and Cinderella glass slippers. My grandson? Anything he can challenge, shoot online, kick, play with. The better reader? My grand-daughter. Better cook? My grandson. You see – only a few brief examples but you are condemning this free world to a few more stereotypes. Not a good idea. Better wake up and sniff the coffee – please.

  48. I don’t agree with Pink Stinks.

    You are probably well-meaning (?) and I would probably have agreed with you before I had a daughter (and 2 sons), but I think girls see pink as identifying with their peers or group, and so it makes them stronger. My 15 year-old daughter was the ultimate pinky, without pressure from us, but despite the ballet and tutu, fashion sense from a very early age etc, she has now dyed her lovely blonde hair black, is top at maths, is planning to study geography or law, and loves playing rugby.

    Probably just as improtant is that boys get to dress up, play with teddies and dolls, and do baking.

    All children should have ready access to dens made out of blankets, water, mud, cooking, fires, musical instruments, balls, bikes, and friends as well as computers and DVDs.

    Why not just campaign for more support for parents, and parenting classes in schools?

  49. Hi,

    I have read this article and comments that followed and I have to laugh. Who could imagine that a colour could spark off a debate. Should we start on the colour blue? Surely, we have bigger things to worry about i.e. bullying, hunger etc.

    Never the less, the consumer can shop with their wallets and make the decision then.

    Could we please start blogs about more important things….

  50. Since my daughter was born I struggled to get nice, tasteful clothes and toys for her but at the end I was always finding them (sometimes in boys section)… I’m not against pink, sometimes it looks good, especially combined with green but all that pink-purple-glitter fashion is not our style. Now when she is 4 her room is filled with wooden toys (some from ELC), Lego and plenty of books… because she loves o read. We have also electric screwdriver with plane and helicopter to build that is very much loved. Like most girls her age she love cute things so she has couple of Littlest Pet Shop animals, but they live in her wooden doll house that is filled with handmade items from modeling clay.
    In my opinion it is really parents fault if they are letting retailers influence what they are buying for their children.

  51. Try buying sports clothing for adult women and you will find that the pink marketers are here too since it is almost impossible to find sports kit in any other colour. Even when you do, it will have pink piping or edging. High quality female geometry racing bike? Pink, or if you’re really lucky pastel blue. Running shoes – pink laces. Then there are the pink handled gardening tools, a pink power drill marketed to women, pink Ipods and phones, the list is endless and sickening.

  52. Hey! Loved the idea =D I’m from Brazil and I’ve always thought that “pinkstinks” but unfortunately it’s still the “girls’ colour” here! I’ll start fighting over it!

  53. Hi. I am an American woman who heard about your campaign through one of our tv news stories.

    I am a little confused. In the U.S. pink is linked to the most powerful and lucrative disease research funding, that of breast cancer.

    The popularity has gotten to the point that our major league baseball players have started wearing pink accesories during their games on Mother’s Day.

    Yes, big macho men with pink arm and wrist bands, pink neck cords, pink shoe laces, and hitting the ball with their bats wraped in a pink covering. The campaign has even spread to other sports over here.

    Well I don’t know what you in the U.K. do for breast cancer awareness, but I just thought I would offer that side of things.

    good luck 🙂

  54. I live in Brazil and what makes things even worst is that we have shops (toys and clothes) with pink section and blue section but no other colors or choices. If you want to buy a ball it is either blue or pink. If you want a bike choices are equally poor. this campaign should also aim the boys who are not allowed to enjoy other colors and toys.
    about the princes, what kind of bad example is the Cinderella prince who has no name and is enable even to search the beloved unknown…
    I keep asking my daughter. Who´s going to pay your expenses?

  55. I understand perfectly the pink situation. And I agree. Some people could think that is just a matter of colour. But for me it represents what consumism society wants of you as a girl (or boy) : To be a princess, to be a beatiful lady (to be strong, to be a warrior)…. and what about to being an smart and success lady (sensible guy)?

  56. Hi! I’m brazilian and I’ve just discovered your website by reading an article of a brazilian news website. I have to say: the statistics have scared me to death about our generation’s future AND present (I’m 16). Even considering that my country doesn’t have such consuming habits in general due to its secondary place in global economy and to its huge wealth concentration, we can still notice in here how harmful media can be. Then, I found out good actions as this young student’s (and also yours! ) are happening now and I felt happy and, somehow, hopeful. Many people can say, as I’ve read in this comments list, that pink is just a color. But we have to remember that it’s more than that: it’s a symbol.
    I’ve signed up your e-mail newsletter and I’m waiting for news to come. Thanks for what you’re doing, it’s just great!
    PS: sorry for any writing mistake, I’m still learning!

  57. I’m a 11 year old girl and I HATE PINK and glittery fairy princesses! I LOVE science, maths climbing trees and science experiments that go bang.

    I moved to France when I was 9 and there’s not as much pink as in England with the clothes but it’s still quite bad with the toys.

    In England, I decided to join the Brownies as I enjoy adventure and camping. But soon I got bored as there was to much pink and girlie stuff so I joined the Cubs instead. Cubs was much better and there was not a trace of pink. We got to climb trees, cook on the fire, make shelters, none of this we did in Brownies.

    I get really annoyed when the science toys are on the “boys'” side of the shops. Since moving here I’ve met women who work at CERN – the largest science experiment in the world and the place where I want to work when I grow up. I went to a great day organised by “Expanding your Horizons” for girls interested in science. This was a really good idea because I got to meet girls like me who like science which was really nice because I’m usually the odd one out. http://www.expandingyourhorizons.org/

    I think wearing pink by choice is fine but I’d like to wear green. In the UK it was really hard to find clothes for me that were green. It is almost as though the shops are saying “girls SHOULD wear pink” and also that girls who like science and want to wear green are weird.

    So I look forward to seeing more things on “cooltobeme”. Perhaps some ideas for fun stuff to go, puzzles, reviews of books that show that girls can have adventures and be just as good as boys at solving mysteries.

    thank you


  58. I really do see what you are doing. I have two small boys and pink is my three year old’s favorite colour. That is great but it sickens me that any toy with pink is covered in girly images, princesses, barbie etc. Why don’t they make unisex pink toys, just let the colour be the colour.

    There is nothing wrong with pink it is just all the associations that have been created.

  59. Pingback: Early Learning Emergency – revisited – one year on | PinkStinks: the campaign for real role models

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