Art Experiences

Posts Tagged ‘nature versus nurture

When babies are born, parents innately dress them according to their sex. We put our girl babies in pink dresses and our boy babies in little blue jeans. I think part of this stems from the fact that often babies look like, well, babies. It can be hard to tell the baby’s sex if it weren’t for their clothing. Plus, we adore our babies and want to dress them up and show them off. As our babies grow into toddlers, we just continue what we started. Most girl’s clothes are pink and most boy’s clothes are not.

Even at the age of two, many girls seem to develop a bit of an obsession with pink. A well known study surmises that females are biologically programmed to prefer colors in the red spectrum. This comes from our prehistoric days when men hunted and women gathered. Women needed to spot red berries and ripe fruits.

Society tell us that pink is not only a color for girls but the color for girls. Stroll down the toy aisle and you will see a sea of pink plastic doll houses, jewelry, kitchenware and so much more. There are entire stores that sell only pink clothing and accessories. Like it or not, Disney Princess items rake in over $4 billion a year. I see many little girls decked out in pinkwear with their sparkling tiaras every day.

I recall a controversial rant last year that made the Facebook rounds posted by the mother of a 5 year old boy who wanted to dress up like Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. She thought it was fine, bought him the pink and purple costume and posted a very cute photo of him in it. Some other mothers however, were a bit disgusted and dismayed that this mother “allowed this to happen.” Granted, it’s not exactly like wearing a pink polo, but the point is that adults do transmit gender biases to children.

Interestingly, there are also many children who do not develop this bias regarding the color pink and see pink as one of many colors in the world to choose from, be it on a shirt, in a painting or on a toy. Boys are very happy wearing pink, painting with pink and playing with pink toys. Girls can take pink or leave it, they may wear pink clothing sometimes, but not all the time. These children aren’t necessarily the ones with the most confidence, but maybe they are the ones with the most innocence – their choices come straight from their hearts and have not yet been clouded by the expectations of others.

As the nature versus nurture debate goes on, art teachers will continue to show our charges that pink is a color just like green, blue and yellow.

Even I find myself occasionally wincing when a boy chooses to paint his whole picture in pink. Is it because I think his parents will wonder why I let him do that? Is it because I think I might be promoting some kind of not exactly normal-ness in this boy? I mentally kick myself when those thoughts fly by and then let the creating continue!


Hi! I'm Susan Stein and of my many passions in life,
two of my biggest are art and children. In the process of teaching children art, I also teach them problem solving, brainstorming, inventive thinking, originality, working with others, hand eye coordination, and so much more. It doesn't matter if you're good at drawing or not, everyone will benefit from experiencing art.

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