Posted by: emjb | March 17, 2005

Pink, blue, and fat pants too

Note to local deli: If you want people to eat your lasagna, don’t call it “Meat-containing lasagna.” Tell us what kind of meat is in there. I don’t want to eat pasta while wondering “is this what cat tastes like?” Thank you.

Today I outgrew my fattest jeans–had to break out the old rubber-band trick (loop a rubber band through the buttonhole and around the button, gives you a few extra inches). Haven’t used that since the Great Fattening of 94 (long story). Anyway, I guess part of this week’s paycheck must now be spent on fat pants. I’m not ready for maternity pants yet (and to be frank–they scare me. There are panels, and flaps, and hooks, and buttons in strange places. I’m not ready for that yet).

My mom suggested I switch to skirts, which are more forgiving, and it’s a sensible thing to say. But skirts and I have a bad history. Mostly it boils down to me never having skirt-appropriate shoes. For some reason, the only shoes that look right with skirts are uncomfortable ones–little flimsy wedge sandals that you stumble over, or high heels, or the abominable flip flops. Flats and skirts make you look dowdy, and besides, still require the wearing of some sort of pantyhose. I’m a socks and sneakers or sandals girl. At any rate, it’s still too cold for sandals, and by the time it isn’t, Matt will have to paint my toenails for me.

So I’m thinking—overalls? They’re roomy, comfy, big in the gut and butt. Also completely out of fashion right now, except for the pregnant ladies and house painters. So wearing them would be announcing my status to my office, which I’m not quite ready to do. So it’s probably back to the Lane Bryant for overpriced stretchy jeans (yes: Mom Jeans!) that I can wear with sneakers. And then to Target for fat lady tops, because nearly every top I own that once buttoned in front, don’t button no more, if you know what I mean.

I was home yesterday and caught a couple of episodes of TLC’s “Baby Story” which follows a couple around right before, during, and after their kid is born. One episode was a family that was expecting twins, and had been told they were both boys. They had the nursery decorated in baseball-playing teddy bears, blue this, blue that, sports-related baby toys, etc.

And they got two girls.

The dad didn’t seem too bothered–he was happy with it. Mom looked stressed by the news, and confused. As she was talking to the film crew a week or so later, you found out why–she was going to have to redecorate the whole nursery and exchange all the blue clothes for pink ones. The show ended with her rolling a pink flowery wallpaper border over the bears with baseballs, and slapping some of those horrible stretchy headbands on the bald heads of her daughters, now properly outfitted in frilly pink dresses. Thank God! How horrible it would be for two newborns not to be surrounded with the proper gender’s color scheme!

Baby clothes didn’t use to be gendered. Little boys wore dresses–actual dresses, with petticoats and matching hats–until they were 5 or 6 years old, until the early 20th century. To my knowledge, this was not followed by an explosion of The Gay, but the way we act now, it is of utmost importance to mark out a child’s gender the minute they are born. Or else…well, I don’t know what or else. Strangers might not know what sex they are? That’s really the worst that can happen.

Babies, of course, don’t care about anything but eating, sleeping, and pooping for quite a long time, so let’s not pretend we’re doing it for them. I’m not suggesting we dress boys as girls or vice versa, just that maybe, for a baby, an outfit need not be pink with flowers or blue with trucks. Covered with spit up, they don’t look all that different anyway. But I don’t blame the parents and families. It’s quite difficult to find non-stereotyped clothing and toys for kids, or even clothing that might assert, for example, that little girls can like trucks. Or little boys can like flowers.

Our kid won’t even have a nursery, per se. By the time we get a place where the kid gets a room of his/her own…it will be more of just a room. I might paint them a mural, put up cute/fun things, and make it into a kid’s room. But a boy is not going to get a Dallas Cowboys room, and a girl is not going to get the Pretty Princess special. They will see enough of that stuff without me doing it. Whatever roles they want to play, they will have to pick for themselves.

I don’t think all this gender-roles obsession does anything–it doesn’t ensure your kid will not turn out to have The Gay. They will or they won’t, and that shouldn’t matter anyway.

In the meantime, my mom wants me to call as soon as we know the sex so she can buy clothes. I’m hoping to talk her into some nice things in purple, yellow, and green. Just in case.


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