In response to the controversy and excitement created on the web over the viral picture of 5-year-old little Sam in his pink, zebra-striped shoes, I have only one thing to say: "Pink is just a color and so is blue, folks!
I am utterly surprised by the response of his family members…and others…who fear that he might be, or might become gay. How does a little boy wearing a pair of pink shoes have such a huge impact on so many narrow minds is beyond me. That’s like saying that a boy playing with a water gun is going to grow up to be a murderer one day!
My own 6-year-old son also likes pink and many a toys and things we associate as being feminine. That’s why I wrote a children’s book, Pink is Just a Color and So is Blue. The message of the book is that toys and colors do not, and should not, define who kids are…or what they will become.
I remember when my son was about 3, he had taken a liking to one of my small green handbags. He carried it around the house and stored his little treasures in it. On a trip to Chicago, he carried his little lime green purse full of his toys all the way through LaGuardia airport and then through O’Hare and back home again. Many people did double-takes as they passed us, or I’d hear, “Oh, so cute!”
Writer Mary Fischer ranted on The Stir that Sam’s mother was asking for controversy. The controversy is created not by this loving mom, but those who place such inherent power in a single color, allowing it to measure a person’s degree of masculinity or sense of femininity. What is so inherently feminine about pink? Or should I ask, why are they so homophobic?
For most parents, the hope is that our children grow up to be happy, secure, confident, and productive adults. What Sam and his pink shoes bring into focus is a greater need for teaching tolerance and acceptance to kids at a very young age. If we start teaching kids to be more open minded at 4,5, 6, and 7, there would be less of a need to spend millions on anti-bullying education in middle school and high school. We would have a whole new generation of young men and women free of labels—and stigma—open to new ideas and thoughts, rather than being transfixed on the color (or style) of a little boys zebra-striped shoes.