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Fri

05

Nov

2010

A mom’s fantastic blog about her 5-year-old “gay” son!


Please read this blog! This mom rocks!

 

It’s utterly amazing how even on Halloween, boys, old and young alike, are expected to dress up in “masculine” or at the bare minimum, gender neutral costumes, and will get myriad comments if they decide to go out of that box.

 

I remember back in late October 2007, I was driving the three kid carpool to our Jewish preschool which consisted of my 2½-year-old-son, our 3½-year-old little neighbor girl, and my 4-year-old daughter. Because Jews don’t observe Halloween, there would be no celebrations at their school — they’d have to wait for Purim in February, the “Jewish Halloween” — but I digress. The kids were comparing notes on their Halloween costumes. My 4-year-old daughter proudly announced she would be going as Dorothy from Wizard of Oz. Excited chitter chatter could be heard from all three in the backseat. Next our neighbor excitedly shared that she was going as “Ha-wee Pottuh.” My children had not entered the Harry Potter world yet and had little to say on the matter. But our neighbor had enough enthusiasm for three. She gushed that her mommy was going to paint a lightening bolt on her forehead and she would carry a wand! Then it was my son’s turn to share. He matter of factly stated that he was going as Snow White! Of course his sister was entirely aware of that plan and thought nothing of it. But our neighbor, our 3½-year-old baby of a neighbor blurted out, “You can’t go as Snow White! She’s a girl!”

 

Now this carpool conversation happened to take place when my Handsome in Pink clothing line was merely a seed of an idea. So I had a lot of energy around this subject. I felt very protective of my son. But I remained calm and reviewed with our neighbor that she was herself a girl. And then proceeded from there, “And what is Harry Potter” I asked? “A boy” she promptly responded. But then she had to think hard about this. I could see the little wheels spinning in her head, her poor little mind just couldn’t comprehend the concept that she was already a victim of gender socialization. She just could not find the words to answer my question, “why do you think girls can dress like boys, but boys can’t dress like girls?”

 

My son did indeed go as Snow White for Halloween, despite the fact that he was the only one in the family not dressed in the Oz theme. My husband was the yellow brick road, I was the Wicked Witch of the West, we had Dorothy, and that handsome homemade tin man costume just sat by the front door. I have to admit, I was really proud of my boy — wouldn’t even succumb to family pressure!

 

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Mon

20

Sep

2010

Girly Girl (PART II of My Husband’s PINK Cast)

Doug’s cast isn’t the first one in our family. Last year in 1st grade, Ani fractured her arm falling off the slide at school. She, too, faced the choice of picking a cast color. She, however, consciously stayed away from pink explaining “pink is too ‘girly’, too bad orange isn’t a choice … I’m going with white.” When I inquired further about her ideas on girly, she explained girly meant “princess-y and weak.” I was surprised she felt that way about pink after being submerged in our family culture where pink is for everyone. But I was absolutely mortified that my little girl associates girly with being weak!
 

How did the expression “girly girl” become about weakness? And what images does “womanly” conjure up? Soft? Curvy? Baking in the kitchen? Was there a boy expression? I thought back to all the times when my kids were really little and I would hear parents talking about their toddler sons, describing them as “all boy”. “Oh yeah”, they would say, “my son is ‘all boy’; he is all about trucks and balls and running down other kids; what a rough and tumble lad.” It was indeed true: “All boy”, “boyish”, and “manly” are all associated with strength, action, and power. It just didn’t seem right for there to be such black & white thinking about feminine and masculine.

 

And that’s when it all came together in my head. My business, Handsome in Pink, was going to reclaim “Girly Girl” and give girls and women everywhere a different vision of what being girly really is. I spoke with my business partner, Helena, who is the artist amongst us. We decided we were going to take each letter of Girly Girl and tell a different story for girls.

 

The Girly Girl shirts are currently in printing and should be out and ready for the Girly Girl revolution in the next couple weeks. We are so excited! It’s the next phase of Handsome in Pink— it’s Strong, Athletic, Artistic, Intelligent Girly Girls in Blue! Can’t wait to wear mine!

 


6 Comments

Mon

20

Sep

2010

My Husband’s PINK Cast (Part I)

Doug is on the go!

 

My dear husband Doug tore a tendon in his ankle this past winter while snowboarding. Finally, last week he had an ankle surgery. As a result, he will be crutching around for the next couple months. But the fun news is he surprised the family by picking a beautiful bright pink cast — it stretches from his foot all the way up to below his knee. Our 7-year-old daughter, Ani, saw the pink cast and seemed very impressed with her papa’s color selection. She was immediately inspired to sign it. When she proudly looked up from the signing, we saw she had written “Handsome in Pink. Love, Ani.” Currently, that’s his best and only signature. But tomorrow, Doug returns to work as a physician, perhaps he’ll receive some more autographs. But one thing is certain, he will be receiving lots of feedback and questioning about his cast color choice from co-workers and patients. We will stay tuned on that topic.

 

While the color of my husband’s cast hasn’t personally affected me (that’s a lie; men in pink are very sexy), his inability to be mobile has been huge. I’ve inherited many of his “manly” chores at home and in the process, have acquired some new skills. The winning job contenders I’ve inherited are: firing up the BBQ for a good grilling, and mowing the backyard.

 

My least favorite jobs thus far? It’s a toss up. There was the 3am investigation of the faulty smoke alarm that needed new batteries and was obnoxiously beeping every fourth minute — just long enough to drift back asleep and then be rudely awakened again and again and again. When I finally dragged my fanny out of bed, I actually couldn’t figure out which smoke alarm was beeping so I had to take them ALL down. This involved a long flight of stairs and a heavy ladder. Of course this would only happen when Doug was out of commission. I swear I saw him smile in his sleep when I finally got back to bed.

 

Other inherited jobs I haven’t enjoyed so much have involved being the heavy lifter for the family. I’ve had the opportunity to carry 6 large bags of soil, a 50-pound potted plant, a lawnmower, and our sleeping children back up into their high bunk beds. So Doug and I are both getting buff in these next couple months while he recovers; him from crutching around and me from all the heavy lifting he usually does.

 

But certainly there is another issue at hand: we are all victims of gender stereotyping in our culture. I can’t believe I had never mowed the lawn! And grilling burgers is a great experience! I’ve been speaking to my friends about my recent experience and it seems that I’m not the exception to the rule; there is a lot of gender division of labor. Usually there are a few surprises, like for example, I take out the garbage and Doug does the laundry. But chores do seem to divide down the gender line. I just need to stop calling chores “manly” because truly I have never felt like such a woman as I did when I was mowing the lawn last week!

 

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Wed

21

Jul

2010

The Social Worker Starts A Business

I always feel amused by my response, “business woman,” when people ask me “what do you do?” It makes me smile inside because it still takes me by surprise. I am actually a social worker by training, specializing in children’s mental health. My only training in business is the innumerable games of Monopoly I used to play as a kid (o.k., I admit it, I have been known to play now and again as an adult too!) But I must say, I used to rule the board! My secret? Buy, buy, and then buy some more! It didn’t matter if it was Boardwalk or Baltic, Reading Railroad or Electric Company! Buy and then trade later — that was my motto! I almost always won! Decisions were so much easier then…
 

My business partner, Helena, is a teacher by training, and one of my most favorite artists. She designs all of our shirts. I certainly didn’t pull her on board for her business skills–nor for her lack of time— she spends most of her days chasing her 3-year-old twins around town. But I thought my Monopoly skills and passion for revolutionizing pink merged with Helena’s aesthetic could get us to Oprah and Ellen, then on to Paris and Tokyo!

 

So I’ve been faithfully trying to draw on my monopoly skills in this Handsome in Pink business venture I have going; but it just has not translated–not yet anyways. I can’t afford to buy, buy, buy. There is no end to what I could buy really: advertising EVERYWHERE, bulk tees by the truckload, … a personal HiP jet? I hate to bring attention to further deficits, but honestly, my tired mommy brain hasn’t helped my organizational skills either. Needless to say, I’ve made every mistake in the book. (I wish I had been organized enough to write them down.)

 

I will try to remember the “best” mistakes. Here’s a real noticeable one: when you visit our website, scroll down in the baby section to those reduced price organic bibs and tees that have either a “tickled” or a dirtbike image in (gulp) NEON PINK. Yep. Mistake. Helena and I, for the record, are not fans of neon pink — even bubblegum pink has its place sometimes, but not neon pink! In the beginning, we didn’t realize the color sheet the screenprinters gave us was not the actual ink color going on the shirts. Who knew? Silly us, right?

 

We’ve paid to set up a table at festivals a few times where we’ve grossly misjudged the festival attendees (do not remind me about the synagogue holiday sale which was predominantly attended by women over age 80 — three sales the entire weekend).

 

We (I, actually) applied for business/resale licenses by a shady online company as opposed to just going in person to the city of Oakland (for that, I was overcharged by hundreds). Then there was the company we worked with so we could receive people’s credit-card orders. It was supposed to cost $15/month, but they forgot to mention the rules were changing and it would actually be closer to $200, and even more to “break the contract.” Endless hours of phone calls, emails, and faxes arguing for our money back. And ultimately, WE GOT OUR MONEY BACK! Now we use PayPal, which is a lot less drama.

 

Probably the worst offense of all has been starting up a business in the heart of the “Great Recession.” Who wants to spend $20 plus tax on a nifty tee that subverts stereotypes? Only those in dire need. Only the parents of little boys who insist on wearing pink! And perhaps people headed to a babyshower where the future mama did not find out the gender of the baby. It’s a niche group really.

 

Well, thanks for joining me in the adventures of the Social Worker gone Business Woman. I am sure there will be more booby traps to get caught up in. But I am always visualizing that old 80’s game of Atari called “Break Away” where after the paddle hits the ball up through the brick wall over and over again, eventually the ball breaks through and bounces boing boing boing boing on the top of the brick wall, racking up points — PINK REVOLUTION IN THE STREETS! And of course, I’m still visualizing that monopoly of the oranges and reds on either side of Free Parking! Little by little, we will arrive.

 

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Wed

14

Jul

2010

The Kids’ Pajama Drawer

My daughter and son are a year and a half apart. But since my son, who is the younger one, is pretty big for his age, we are always asked if they are twins. The kids share a bedroom. My daughter has her side; he has his. And like most siblings who share a bedroom, she has her clothes in her drawers and he has his clothes in his. There is one exception to this rule, the pajama drawer.
 

The pajama drawer belongs to both of them. It’s the free zone. All is fair play in the pajama drawer: the sports pajamas, the purple princess nightgown, the pirate top and shorts, the Barack Obama big oversized tee from the election, a couple old tie-dyes from my husband’s and my Grateful Dead days, and a fun assortment of other options.

 

I hate to admit it, but my kids have been socialized by the outside world’s expectations of how a girl or a boy should dress. I held out as long as I could. I started Handsome in Pink as the antedote to having my kids’ clothes choices fit into neat circular pegholes. I even repeated to them again and again that there is no such thing as “boys’ clothes” and “girls’ clothes.” But eventually, little by little, the outside message got to them and began unravelling my own. (Although they still happily don their gender neutral HiP attire so they are not a total lost cause.)

 

I realize many might be wondering why I wanted my kids to believe clothes are clothes and they aren’t for a particular gender. I have my reasons. First off, since my son at 2 and 3 years of age was insisting on dresses and pink and purple outfits, I certainly didn’t want his preferences squashed by his biggest idol, his sister. Secondly, I wanted to protect all children everywhere who were not conforming. It was my personal mission to be the mother of the last kids on earth who would ever question another child for the clothes choices they were making. Clothes are very personal; they can be an artistic, soulful expression of who we are that day, how we are feeling. No one should put limits on that for us.

 

As far as fashion is concerned, the pajama drawer has become a symbol to me of the last vestige of what society hasn’t beaten out of my children. At bedtime, the kids, without hesitation, will grab and wear any item in the drawer. I really like that. I wonder how much longer it will last …

 

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Thu

20

May

2010

Handsome in Pink Photo Gallery

I want to celebrate the fact that boys and girls, women and men, can wear the same clothes and look fabulous! I don’t think the boys look “girly” and I don’t think the girls look “boyish”, not that it really matters anyways. But what do YOU think?
 

Thanks to everyone who has sent photos to me over the past year of you and your kids out in the world with the Handsome in Pink wares. Please continue to do so! Here are some of my faves… Enjoy!

 

To purchase any of these items, visit the Handsome in Pink Online Store.


Tags: gender neutral clothing, kids' clothes, Pink, purple

 

0 Comments

Fri

26

Feb

2010

From Snow White to Ninjas…

Hooray! Today, on my son Asa’s 5th birthday, I am officially starting the Handsome in Pink blog. I have been writing these entries in my head for the past several years but at last there is a place for them to live! I find that these gender-related thought provoking moments just keep coming up in my mothering journey, and I want to share them with you. Please check back regularly for new blog entries. And let me know your thoughts; I want to hear from you

 

And now it’s time to dive right in…

 

We just sent home 4 little ninjas, decked out in their black masks and belts, clinging on to their silver spray painted cardboard swords and stars, and high on flourless chocolate cake and vanilla bean ice cream. What an afternoon! They helped my son, the birthday ninja, steal the treasure box from under the chair of the sleeping pirate, Grandpa Steve. And they completed an elaborate obstacle course in our backyard which tested their balance, stealth, and speed. It was quite a party, and now we all take a big sigh as the 5th birthday celebation comes to a close.

 

I can’t help but remember my son Asa’s previous birthdays. The birthday party themes are often a reflection of where your kid is at in life. And Asa is wholeheartedly in the world of ninjas, superheroes, swords, utility belts, and really weapons of any kind. Last year’s theme was not a big leap from this year’s. It was a Star Wars and Superheroes themed 4th birthday. And he was tempted to do the same theme again this year! He really seems to get a lot out of this realm of fantasy play. This morning he spent 45 minutes giving me the elaborate details of a five minute “Batman and Robin battle with the Joker” YouTube he saw a few weeks ago. This is fascinating stuff to him!

 

You might suspect my husband and I are the sort of parents who push our son into the world of “boyish” delights. Actually, we are not. We just try our hardest to support his funny stages and trust he is working something through. If you travel back in time one more year to Asa’s 3rd birthday, you would see a little fella dressed in a pink fairy costume bouncing blissfully around with his party guests in a jumpy house. At 3, Asa was an ardent fan of pink and purple poof, dresses, pig tails, his big sis, and most notably Snow White. Dressed in his own Snow White princess gear, he would faithfully visit his special friend, a 3 foot high wooden gnome, as often as he could get us to take him to Fairyland on Lake Merritt here in Oakland. Asa’s visits consisted of resting his head on Snow White’s shoulder where they would then talk about important matters. (I actually was not privy to these conversations because Asa needed some privacy with his friend. I had to hide behind a nearby tree.)

 

Watching my boy leap frog from princesses to Star Wars in a matter of months was fascinating. The path went like this: Devotion through his 2’s and early 3’s to Snow White, and then like butter melting in a pan, Snow White was gone and Peter Pan was there in her place. All it took was a viewing of Peter Pan chez the Grandparents. Now Peter Pan, in retrospect, does seem like the likely stepping stone between worlds. He engenders both gentleness and fierceness. He is kind to children, and also can simultaneously battle pirates with that astonishing sword and gift of flight. Asa plunged deep into Peter Pan for a solid three months or so. He dressed the part every day, down to the feather in his green cap. I’m sure this would have gone on for some time… but Asa was interrupted by a storm trooper.  Yes, a storm trooper literally stood in Asa’s path swiftly kicking both Peter Pan and Snow White onto their rumps and off of Asa’s radar for what seems like for good. ( I still miss them sometimes.)

 

It was the summer of 2008, Asa was now 3½ years old. We decided to spend the fourth of July at the Marin County Fair. After a couple hours of the ferris wheel and fun houses, the kids and I decided to head inside for a while to get out of the hot sun. As if guided by the force, we walked right into the Star Wars exhibit, where there was an Imperial fighter ship protected by two storm troopers. Asa stood in awe. His eyes had never beholden such a sight. He could not move. We would spend the next hour there. Asa was continually in a light saber duel for his 4’s. We finally forced Asa to take a Star Wars break which was when he discovered the superheroes. Superheroes led naturally to ninjas. And that takes us to the present. It’s been a good journey with our son thus far and we look forward to the next characters and phases.

 

Here is this blog summarized in photos…

 

 

Age 3½. Asa has moved on to Peter Pan!

 

Storm Troopers!

This is not actually the day my son met the stormtroopers for the first time. There was no documentation. This is a year later for an anniversary visit.

 

Age 5, my boy has become "Super Ace!"

 

The 5-year-old Ninja birthday party obstacle course.

 

I want to take this moment on my first blog to salute my son, Asa, who inspired me to create an entire line of clothes for kids who want to dress in their own style and colors and not have their fashion dictated by arbitrary social constructs. And may we as parents, grandparents, aunties, and uncles support our kids in being who they are and trusting their phases and interests.

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