PinkStinks report card 2011

Pink Still Stinks...?

It’s been a little over two years since I first encountered PinkStinks, so I thought I’d take a look and see how the campaign is doing now.

The first thing you notice when you visit their website is that they’re still targeting the Early Learning Centre for daring to sell pink toys and clothes for girls.

They’re not afraid of offensive, blanket statements about some of ELC’s products, either.

What would your first reaction be if you saw a vanity mirror aimed at a three-year-old? You might question its age suitability, or you could simply see it as a pretty object that a young child is likely to enjoy looking at him/herself in.

No! Apparently, “placing a three year old child in front of a mirror is nothing short of sexualisation of girls.” How sick is that as a conclusion? Very, I’d say.

These parents are angry because “[they] think that ELC along with all other retailers need to take responsibility and live up to these responsibilities.”

As I’ve said before, how about parents take responsibility for what they buy their children, teaching them about the positive differences between the genders, reinforcing a child’s inner and outer beauty, and nurturing and developing them to grow into adults not limited by anyone else’s stereotypes?

That would be the sensible thing to do, but it seems a lot of time has been spent instead writing blog posts and letters complaining to a host of organisations not taking women seriously.

Here’s a list of some of the companies and organisations who’ve been causing trouble for PinkStinks:

  • BBC: Sports Personality of the Year
  • Boots
  • BSkyB
  • Cancer Research
  • GAP
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Paperchase
  • Premier League
  • Primark
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Scribbler (OK, I admit I’m with them on this one)
  • Wired Magazine

They readily admit that they “don’t have the resources” to undertake a balanced campaign highlighting inequalities in marketing to both boys and girls, yet there are only a handful of what I might call “positive” articles — those which would seek to teach parents how to affirm and celebrate their children’s gender without overdoing the unhelpful stereotypes — and instead it’s all quite vitriolic campaigning against some of our best known companies. No wonder they come up against “rude heads of marketing” when their attitude is so confrontational.

The net seems to be widening too. If it’s even remotely related to a pink product, it’s fair game to moan about. Take “Pink Hearts”, some obnoxious processed meat product in ‘pretty’ pink packaging. This leads to a tirade not only against packing that stereotypes girls (somehow) but also against junk food and obesity.

Well, guess what: your kids should eat what you give them. Not feeding them certain types of food offers both education and discipline in one go! Brilliant! And no Jamie Oliver in sight.

In fairness, some of what PinkStinks talks about is correct, but it seems like an awfully big gamut of topics to be fighting against.

Consumerism and the use of sex in marketing isn’t new, but the problems and solutions are much wider than PinkStinks can deal with.

Walk down any high street, take a drive in the car, or travel on public transport, and you will find billboard posters, video advertising screens and shop window displays touting all sorts of sexualised imagery in order to attempt to sell. It’s a sign of the times, and it’s the reason why parents need to educate their children at an early age, in an appropriate way, about sex and relationships.

As children move towards adulthood, they will form their own opinions of the world, of other people and of sex, but generally at least a part of them will hold on to what values and attitudes their parents have instilled in them.

Avoid the visual detritus as much as possible, but remember that you can’t wrap your kids up in (presumably non-see-through) bubble wrap forever.

The world is a complicated, media-fuelled place these days. Teach your children how to navigate that world.

And please, don’t completely destroy the right for little girls to be little girls and little boys to be little boys just some of the time. If their upbringing is good, they’ll turn out just brilliantly, ready to be strong, confident role models, regardless of whether they like pink, blue, dolls, action toys, football or extreme sports.