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Boy Vs. Girl Colors: Explaining Gender To Your Child

carA few months ago I attempted to dress JD in a purple and black sweater from Old Navy. It was a Christmas gift from a relative.

JD took one look at the thick purple stripes and ran away, yelling, “That’s a girl shirt, mom!” in his undershirt, jeans and bare feet.

He was associating the color purple with girl.

“There’s no such thing as girl or boy colors. My favorite colors are black and lime green,” I said. “I like to dress in black a lot and lime green, the color of one of the walls in your room, reminds me of peace and vacation and the smell of grass.” (And tequila.)

JD looked at me like I was insane. “I’m not wearing a girl shirt to school. Everyone is gonna make fun of me,” he said.

I’m pretty chill about JD and clothes. I like him to match, but I wasn’t going to force the kid to wear this sweater.

My issue was getting him to realize he didn’t have to wear it, because he didn’t like it—not because it was a purple girl-color-sweater.

I tried to explain to him that his Poppy and uncles have pink dress shirts and polo shirts. I told him about how when he was little he wore a pink polo shirt and skull dotted shorts to my West Coast Rattled! reading and looked badass cool.

“You made me wear a pink shirt!” he yelled. Mooooom!” Then I showed him the proof.

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“I have blue Nikes! I have blue sweaters! I have a blue baseball cap!” I said, pulling a grey long-sleeve t-shirt with superheroes splashed across it over his head.

“I’m never wearing girl clothes!” he stomped off.

That night I showed him this blog I wrote about a dad wearing a skirt because his kid likes to wear dresses and how a mom painted her son’s nails. In both instances, I took the stance: If the kid wanted to wear a skirt or sport pink nail polish—awesome. Let your kid decide. 

Like this morning, JD decided he wasn’t leaving the house without fluffy, glittery, PINK bunny ears on. Part of me wanted to protect him. I felt like some kids might make fun of him. He came home last week and told me NEVER to pack him an applesauce again because “Tom said it’s baby food.” Obviously, I told him it wasn’t … over steak. (Is that grownup food?!)

Still, I let him leave the house in the ears. He was thrilled. At school, no one really said anything. I just want my kid to make his choices.

One day he doesn’t want to wear a purple and black sweater because it’s too girly. The next day, he’s down for camo pants, Nikes … and bunny ears. Cool.

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How about you?

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