Picture day

Picture day at school.
Chose hair wax over Mom’s Spit
to tame his bed head.

Asher: What’s that? Why are you doing that to my hair?

Deborah: Eat your breakfast. We don’t have a lot of time.

A: OW! Something’s in my eye!

D: Nothing’s in your eye. I’m trying to make your hair look nice for Picture Day.

A: What’s on your hands? It hurts!

D: I really don’t think hair wax hurts. Now, my nails scraping against your scalp while I’m styling your hair….that might hurt.

A: What is hair wax?
Clearly, there’s not a lot of beauty talk in our house.

D: We use hair wax to style your hair.

A: What does that mean, style?

D: When you style your hair, you’re trying to defy the laws of physics and get it to do what you want it to do. (because my mother obviously did not have access to such tools for my Picture Day)

D: Now, if they take pictures after lunch, please try to remember to wipe your face after you eat.

A: Why?


D: So that you have a nice, clean, handsome face for your picture.

A: I don’t want it to be Picture Day.

Such pressure. Anxiety set in the day we received the first flyer a few weeks ago. PICTURE DAY NOVEMBER 12, 13, 17 and 18. Well, which one is it? His hair is on the long side, but if we cut it now, and his class is up on the 12th, he’ll look like Howdy Doody without the freckles. What should he wear? The note says we should choose bright colours. Of his more formal attire, we’ve got a brown shirt, a forest green cardigan and a pink and white striped button down shirt. He looks great in pink, but a gay mom raising a sensitive boy thinks twice about pink shirts. Don’t judge until you’ve walked in my sensible shoes!

How did pink become a feminine colour anyway? This looks like a job for the world wide web. So very enlightening. Apparently, real men DID wear pink according to an article on GentleBirth.org. A potted history for your consideration:

The practice of pink for girls and blue for boys was not common until after World War II, partly because there was considerable disagreement about which color was appropriate for which sex. The Infant’s Department, a trade journal, tried to settle the question in 1918: “There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for a boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.

Clothing manufacturers complained that greeting-card companies were confusing the issue by using pink for girls and blue for boys in birth announcements. The greeting-card people pointed to Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy” and Lawrence’s “Pinkie” as proof they were right. The debate continued for decades. In 1939, Parents magazine polled customers in a New York department store and found that, while most preferred pink for girls, about one-fifth favored blue for girls and pink for boys. The first children to be consistently color-coded by gender were the post-war baby boomers. Pink has been an exclusively feminine color for only about 40 years. (This explains all the sweet, elderly ladies who thought your son was a girl even when he was dressed all in blue.)

Further investigation suggests that the pink triangle that the Nazis forced gay men to wear sealed the deal on the feminization of the colour pink. Just imagine that not so long ago, blue was a girlie color! Of course, the fact that we feel the need to assign a gender to any colour at all confounds me.

Asher wore his forest green cardigan, and he looked very handsome. ..except for the huge chunk of hair that stuck out straight on the side of his head when he woke up this morning. Girls may have a monopoly on pink, but product is for everyone.

11 thoughts on “Picture day

  1. I had no idea! We don’t subscribe to gender-based color theories around here. Pink has long been one of Joseph’s favorites, though he did go through a phase where he would say “Pink is for girls, but fuchsia is for boys!” (-;

    My most confounding experience was his picking out socks in Children’s Place. When he selected orange — ORANGE! — the sales clerk felt the need to check if it were ok with me, whispering in hushed tones, before ringing them up because “Those are girl socks.” No lace. No different from the selection of “boy socks” — navy, olive, brown, black and white — in any way. You know, other than that sissy color! GAH!

  2. LOVE your school picture!

    My partner and I overthink the gender presentation for our son too. We once rejected a pair of hand-me-down overalls because the cut looked too feminine (they were European, you know).

    Later, he can choose his own clothes, but while we are in charge of dressing him, I guess we don’t want people to think we’re stifling his masculinity. Sad, defensive, a little self-hating, but a little bit true.

  3. I used hair wax on my son for 1 picture day. Wow did he do a number on it. Think Dali hair. Needless to say we didn’t buy those.

    I always wore pink shirts when I wore a suit. My 2 bits on the color thing:

    People like to think that gender and sexuality is like a light switch. On or off, male or female. But it is really much more a spectrum. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the less you need defining colors.

    That Americans wrestle with these issues, is no surprise given the general state of sexual suppression here.

  4. orange?!? outrageous! i’ve actually read that people who do not have enough orange in their lives experience higher rates of impotence. maybe use another pair of socks to accessorize other bits?

    tcs, “sad, defensive, a little self-hating, but a little bit true.” agreed. time to reclaim pink, girlie clothes and our self-esteem.

    scott, dali hair sounds very creative. you must have been so proud! suppressed, indeed. we should wrestle more often. i think it would help.

  5. 1) Junie B. Jones said it best, “School Pictures are a racket, I think.” We haven’t bought school pictures for 2 years now.

    2) Pink is one of Evan’s favorite colors.

    – The Evil Sister

  6. Thank you, Rhea!

    Evil? No! Opinionated, contrary and insensitive? Occasionally. One of my biggest and most closeted fans? Definitely.

    I’m a sucker for school pictures. If not for school pictures, I wouldn’t have been able to share my bad hair day in 2nd grade with the world. But I admire your ability to resist.

  7. Deborah – I hadn’t seen a pic of you at that age – shocking how much Asher looks like you! So cute! 🙂 He looks adorable for his pic…

    I had heard something like (and this may be complete bs based on the post) pink is a girl color because it is associated with life (blood, etc) and blue more for boys because the sky is blue and it is therefore related to male reverence for G-d…

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