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World of colour awaits our children

You never really consider how powerful our colour association is in the Western world until you dress your daughter in blue or green to leave the house.

Blue is boy and pink is girl. The look of surprise in people's faces when you tell them that it's actually your daughter dressed in baby blue is interesting.

But why do we still use this colour association outside the hospital? Bermuda's national dress colours are pink and blue, and men are encouraged to wear them to work if possible. So why should pink be a female colour and blue, a male-associated colour here? Even the words people use to describe children change when they assume one gender or the other. Many people will focus on the looks and vulnerability of a child when they think it's a girl. But when they think it's a boy, then they describe his size more than anything else.

How we describe children and the expectations we have for them impact on how they see the world and how they view themselves. There is a quote from Shoghi Effendi, head of the Bahá'í Faith from 1921 until his death in 1957: “We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world.”

Since our young children hear everything we say (even though they might not be obedient), and they love us so much, it's not a stretch to think they take everything we say to heart. Our words affect them in profound ways. So why not use language which helps them to think as positively as possible about who they are and what is possible for them not only now, but in the future?

I think there are a lot of positive associations which stem from the traditional binary sense of pink/blue, girl/boy. I think being gentle and caring are wonderful traits for girls, but also, how different would the world look if more boys were gentle and caring? It is possible to be tough, robust and gentle. That way we start raising more rounded, more empathetic people. It just takes a bit of practice and consciousness of the language we use.

We tend to restrict how we describe our children based on our understanding of how girls and boys should be and not how they potentially could be. I don't want ideas and expectations I have for my daughters and future children to somehow deter them from reaching their potential, whether it's as mechanical engineers, molecular biologists, teachers or artists.

So I'm going to start by dressing them in blue, green, red, yellow and every colour so they can look as colourful as I hope their future will be.

Baby blues: men regularly wear pink in Bermuda, our columnist says, so why is it still linked with being a colour for girls?

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Published September 01, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated September 01, 2016 at 6:37 am)

World of colour awaits our children

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