January 13, 2013

Pink or Not to Pink: Raising a Girl, These Days. ~ Alli Akard

How do you raise a girl to feel free with her feminine side while teaching her to be strong and defiant?

As I walked down the dental hygiene isle at the grocery store, I heard a young couple discussing the issue of what color toothbrush to get their toddler daughter. The mother was clearly offended by her partners choice, “I can’t believe you think she needs a pink, princess toothbrush. You might as well put a tattoo on her forehead the says devalue me, I’m just a submissive girl.”

 Not that I was eavesdropping or anything, but I couldn’t help linger near the toothpaste a few moments longer. Pink or not to pink. The fate of a little girl’s teeth was at stake!

I too have a little girl. In fact she was with me while I watched the dental show down. She was wearing her favorite Halloween sweater (yes, in January) underneath her favorite tie-dyed tutu dress. She’s two years old and wears whatever she wants. Frankly, I let her choose her own clothes because I don’t have the energy to argue with her about what to wear, especially since she changes outfits more times in a day than I can count. Hey, she’s a girl, that’s what we do…right?

“Honey, she likes the pink toothbrush, just let her have it! What’s the harm in a pink toothbrush.” The dad innocently stood his ground in honor of his little girls desire to obtain that damn pink dental cleaning device.

Apparently there was more than meets the eye, since the young mom stormed down the isle, daughter in tow, screaming for the pink toothbrush.

It got me thinking…is this really a symbol for creating submissive girls? Crap! My daughter has a pink toothbrush at home. Will she too be subjected to a world of sexism because she loves pink? Her bedroom is swimming in a sea of pink bunnies, pink shoes, pink diapers, pink pillows and blankets.

 Am I overlooking a societal standard that girls these days should be independent and strong and most definitely not wear pink?

My daughter is as girly as they come (I know she didn’t get that from me). My daughter is equally as strong and independent as they come (she didn’t get that from me either). She knows what she wants and is as tough as nails. Once, she took a fall on her head off the back of the couch, wiped away her own tears and ran off to keep up with her two older brothers.

I realize the importance of raising a daughter. It’s a constant balancing act of not over stepping her innate feminine qualities while teaching her to be confident in who she truly is. Pink or no pink.

I want my daughter to grow up feeling pretty and smart; ideally, she will exude self-confidence. I want her to be taken seriously if she decides to wear sparkles and bows. Equally speaking, I want her to be taken seriously if she decides to shave her head and wear camo pants.

 At some point the division of sexes has to stop being determined by a color palette.

As we muddle through political debates of female issues, I can’t help worry what is in store for my daughter. Will she be confined to this tiny societal box that magazines so generously portray in order to be valued… or devalued? I suppose I won’t worry too much about her love of pink as a symbol of ‘submissive girl’ and I’ll make sure to tell my daughter that she is strong, beautiful, and completely perfect in her Halloween sweater, tutu dress, pink shoes and tough as nails attitude.

No matter who she decides to be or what she wears, I hope her time isn’t wasted worrying about how the world will perceive her because she will be completely confident with her self and her self image.

But the real kicker, the thing I wish I would have thought to tell the young couple, that perhaps could have completely sent them over the edge, is that my son also has a pink toothbrush. But that’s a whole other issue.


Alli Akard is a yoga mama to the fullest. Having spent 7 yrs living in the jungles of Panama, this ‘hippie at heart’ gal truly values the simple things in life. When she’s not teaching yoga or making yummy smells in the kitchen, you can find her having dance parties in her living room with her three beautiful jungle babies and Tarzan-esque husband.




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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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