Pink Quandaries: What Color to Paint
a Toy Mower?

Pink Quandaries: What Color to Paint
a Toy Mower?

Katie Steuernagle
Jul 27, 2012

My 3-year old daughter has been asking me for a toy lawn mower for weeks now. After checking online reviews and seeing the faded, broken ones at the neighborhood playground, I decided to make one myself. It turned out great (although I wished it actually cut the grass) and she's really happy with it. The only problem now is what color to paint it. You see, I assumed I'd be painting it some combination of classic red, black, and white or possibly a John Deere-esqe green and yellow. But what color does my 3-year old daughter want? Yeah, you guessed it: pink.

And now I'm stuck. I can't bring myself to paint it pink. Why? I'm not sure. Part of the problem is that I've put so much work into it that I feel like it's sort of mine, too. The wheels turn the axels, which turn rubber bands that turn spools on a dowel that turns that wood circle on top. When the big circle turns, the wooden balls hanging off it knock against smaller dowels attached to the body, and it makes an awesome thumping motor noise. See? I really got into this. And although I do love pink, it's just not what I had in mind.

But then I caught myself in an philosophical quandary. What if she'd been a boy and asked for a pink mower? Proudly, I would've lacquered the whole thing pink and even added glitter if he'd asked.

So obviously I have to dig a little deeper to really get what my problem is with painting it pink. I guess that old shaved head, gender studies, question authority part of me wishes that she wasn't into pink, that she loved only boy stuff like machines and mowers and monsters, so I could boast how I've raised a daughter completely free from gender stereotyping. But, alas, as you can see in the picture above, she loves pink. I've made all the choices available to her, easy to do since I have an older son and an older daughter, and my little one loves it all. Tools, mud, mowers, Barbie, baking, and babies.

I keep stalling for time, asking every few days what color we should paint it, and the answer is still unwaveringly pink. I suppose I'm thinking too much about it. I'm prone to that as you can see from the mower itself, which for now remains a natural wood tone.

(Images: Katie Steuernagle)

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