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Last week while dropping my kids off at school, I discovered that there were two new lines taped on the ground where the kids wait for restroom breaks. One line was pink and the other line was blue. Now, I may not have noticed or even taken issue with the pink and blue lines had it not been for the nearby sign on the wall, written in childish hand, that said “Stop Stereotypes”.
Signs like these are all over the kids' school right now, which has led to multiple discussions both at home and at Girl Scouts about what, exactly, is a stereotype? And what are gender rolls? The fifth grader who made this sign is going somewhere in life, my friends, but the message is not exactly easy to explain to a second grader. It turns out that the bathroom tape gave us a window to talk about both.
I won’t bore you with the details of our gender stereotype conversation, except to point out the obvious that (contrary to the response my daughter’s teacher gave when my daughter pointed out that perhaps the pink and blue tape was promoting stereotypes) not all girls like pink. Or purple (thank you so much Pantone). A quick Pinterest search for girls’ rooms led to an overwhelming amount of pink. Even when I searched for girls’ rooms in specific colors (yellow, orange, blue, green), most came up with heavily pink accents. I get it. Pink plays well with lots of other colors, What blew my mind was not that pink was popular as a girls' room color, but that one had to search for "gender neutral girls room" to find anything not pink. That, of course, led to the following very important question: Can you design a room for a girl that isn’t pink?
Yes. Yes, you can.
Now don’t get me wrong. Pink is actually my favorite color. I liked it before and even after the All Things Millennial Pink Movement. I have pink in my hair. I have a pink purse. I have (ok, had) a pink office. But, I repeat, not all girls like pink. And shouldn’t we give the ladies what they want?
Let’s start simple. Black and white is the “gender neutral” go-to for nurseries. It is also great for older girls’ rooms. You can keep the palette straight up neutral, or add an accent color - yellow, mint, aqua, red…whatever your darling daughter’s favorite color of the moment happens to be. I went with mint because my daughter Théa believes that the true name for this color is “Théa Green”.
What’s great about black and white is that it can grow with your daughter. Accent colors can change as your kid changes (weekly, who are we kidding?) without a huge investment. A quick switch out the art and the pillows gives you a new look. There’s a reason Scandinavian designers have been using black and white for so long. It works. This great black and white bunk room could belong to girls or boys or maybe one of each.
Let’s move on to blue. I think we have established culturally that blue is no longer just for boys. (Would that we could do the same with pink, but that’s a discussion for another day.) It is almost as common to find girls’ clothes and sheets in light blue or aqua as it is to find them in pink. But can we decorate with darker blues without using pink? Again, the answer is a resounding yes.
Look for blue florals, soft stripes, and dots. Pattern is a great way to feminize a color that we traditionally think of as masculine. Sticking with soft shapes also helps, but as you can see from the bed above, strong lines create a great contrast to feminine patterns. (P.S. I love every print from Rifle Paper's Alice In Wonderland series. Must remember to buy that book for our kid library.)
The thing about blue is, when you mix it with a little yellow, you get a new hue all together. Peacock, aqua, teal...whatever your shade or tint, this is a beautiful way to incorporate blue into a girl's space. And it looks stunning with it's complimentary color, yellow.
I could go on all day. Really, there are endless combinations that do not involve pink as a primary color in designing a girl's bedroom. Want a little more inspiration? Head over to Pinterest, where I've begun collecting non-pink girl decor. Want help working with your daughter on the perfect room? I'm just a click away.
P.S. If you have an elementary age daughter looking for some cool reading, check out Bravery Magazine. The new issue on Mae Jamison comes out later this month and my daughter can hardly wait.