Does Pink Stink?

What does the colour pink mean to you? Femininity? Romance? Frivolity? Innocence?

Chances are you thought of some positive and decidedly feminine words (and if you didn’t, then kudos – I want to hear from you!) Pink is the colour of lipsticks, of Barbie’s car (and house, and the myriad other material possessions that she’s acquired through life). Pink roses are a gentler romantic gesture than bold red, the colour of lust and love and passion.

It is now almost impossible to enter a toy store without immediately being aware of ‘girl toys’ and ‘boy toys’, conveniently colour-coded; some stores boast an entire floor dedicated to the toys a girl might want, dumbed down…and in pink.

What’s the problem with that? Well let’s look a little closer.

The Pink Stinks campaign, established by two mothers who were horrified by the ‘pinkification’ of culture, aims to tackle the gender division affecting children. They argue that the gender-colour equation adds up to lower self-esteem in girls, as the incessant focus on princess dresses and babies and make-up affects young girls’ aspirations. I looked on a well-known UK retailer’s website, and the top 10 girls’ toys included a Rapunzel costume, a dolls house, a bead-making set, and my personal favourite: a pushchair. Mainly in pink, might I add, with the odd splash of purple. The boys top 10 – and this will come as no surprise – included several guns, battle figures and cars. Try finding a firefighter fancy dress costume aimed at girls, or one that isn’t a 50s nurse or a fairy. Now this trend may be older than me, but seriously: what message is this giving kids? I tell you what message: an outdated one

Now a person may well argue that there is no harm in children showing a preference for a colour, and I agree with that in principle. But I plain refuse to believe that we are biologically pre-determined to like a colour to this degree. And, for me, the clincher is this: many boys with some level of cultural awareness refuse to wear pink. It has connotations of ‘girliness’, and that has to be avoided at all costs. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a particular fan of ‘girly pink’ either. But then, when I cast my mind back, I realised that I was never bombarded with pink accessories. This was definitely in part due to my mother, who, I remember, refused to buy me a toy kitchen, but the fact is there just wasn’t the plethora of pink there is today. It’s like we’re going backwards.
Some hysterical British news reporters claimed that Pink Stinks was trying to ‘ban pink’, but this ain’t the case. They have a problem with the connotations. Their site aims to focus instead on positive female role models who are known for their passions and achievements rather than their beauty or breast size, and they believe that by shifting the focus from ‘princess’ and ‘soldier’, toy and clothing companies have the opportunity to feed children the dreams they deserve, wearing whatever colours they choose.
And me? I actually love a bit of pink. I even have a fabulous pair of pink shoes…but the difference is, I’m old enough to know I can still change the world while I’m wearing them.

How do you feel about the pink culture?
Do you think it’s harmless or a hindrance?


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This is part of a series of posts by the Feminist Fashion Bloggers for Women’s History Month.
Click here to read the other submissions on the new FFB blog!
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68 thoughts on “Does Pink Stink?

  1. Agreed. It’s not the pink, it’s the stink. Prejudices suck everywhere, and pink just happens to be loaded with one of them. I recently read that historically, boys wore pink and girls blue, as pink was more of a royal color. This question is discussed here: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2831/was-pink-originally-the-color-for-boys-and-blue-for-girls . Thanks for linking to the Pink Stinks project, I think it’s fabulous. As an equalist and gender researcher, I applaud efforts like this 🙂

    Relatable Style

  2. I’ve got a friend who is raising two little girls. He and his wife are as crunchy-granola and intellectual as can be. They would probably have never brought a pink toy into the house except that the kids want them SO BADLY and I gather that, as parents, you pick your hills to die on and that wasn’t theirs. Over here, the Disney (TM Brand) Princess thing is so huge that girls who got sucked into it young are now having princess themed weddings. It’s not just pink vs. blue baby stuff any more, it is a massive marketing campaign aimed at young girls. I think that the marketing juggernaut will be harder to stop than the cultural factors. If they weren’t targeted by such heavy marketing kids would probably all be wearing random colors by now but there’s an industry in keeping girls in pink.

    • I’ve thought about this before! Kleinfeld’s recently came out with a Disney themed wedding gown line. Also, a lot of recent MAC collections (Venomous Villains, the Barbie collection or whatever it was called) appears to be makeup for girls who played dress up.

  3. This is actually a complex subject. For example, did you know that a century ago, pink was considered the appropriate color for boys and blue was considered the suitable color for girls?

    Also, while you can look at pink as a color, it also functions as a symbol and, in that role, can be troublesome. Many people, like writer Barbara Ehrenreich (and me), dislike its use in breast-cancer fundraising. Plus, pink is sometimes used to shame men: the infamous Sheriff Joe in Arizona puts his inmates in pink clothes to humiliate them. And, of course, homosexuals in Nazi Germany were ridiculed by having to wear pink triangles.

    • Of course! You’re quite right. For such an ‘insipid’ colour it is incredibly potent symbolically. Is actually neglected to think about the breast cancer fundraising, but I’d be interested to hear more of your thoughts on this topic…

  4. I agree. I don’t have a problem with pink, but it irks me when toy dishwashers and vacuum cleaners are pink (like a guy never has to clean?). It’s the “cars are for boys; ovens are for girls” implications that bugs me.

    On a side note, my brother asked for (and got) a pink Cabbage Patch Kid tricycle when he was young. I’m glad! Me? I rode around on my green skateboard thank-you-very-much!

    I think kids would have much broader interests if society didn’t dictate how they “should” be.

    • I agree with that. For example, I’ve seen my niece grow from a 4 year-old who cared nothing for boy/girl stuff, to a 7 year-old whose entire bedroom and belongings are pink. I think that was all by osmosis.

      And the toy thing really bugs me. The other day I saw a woman buying her daughter a pink cleaning set, and it pained me. There are so many other exciting things for children to do…

  5. Yeah pink and reds were colours for boys, as they were energetic, red blooded, vibrant colours, whereas blue was serene, chaste and modest…. (notice how those old fashioned morals coincide with this application of colour to gender) Same happens today I totally agree. Pink means docile, babyish and unthreatening today, whereas blue was the colour of superman’s costume, and is a military colour too; aggressive, rational and ready for comabt/work(jeans denim being blue) It’s a strange world. I hate it when I see that my niece is surrounded by pink, and while she IS a girly girl who likes doll houses, make up, high heels (she tries on mine) has a toy kitchen and hates boys and is *THREE!!* (she does have a love for toy cars too)… my heart sinks when my five year old nephew says, “Can I wear nail polish?” and the answer is a big NO. (I had one german baby doll when I was a kid, a bucket of bricks, lego, a makeshift kitchen I concocted spells on, a chemistry kit, and my sister’s cindy from the 70’s – look how I turned out!)

    I really find that an interesting and harrowing concept, that this is more about trying to sell stuff… making girls think they need everything in pink, makes manufacturers make everything pink, then needing to keep girls liking pink, and making boys like violence. It’s grooming, it’s disgusting and bloody fascist to colour code gender.

    • Um… I like your comment but there’s one thing in it that confuses me. You write: “my heart sinks when my five year old nephew says, ‘Can I wear nail polish?’ and the answer is a big NO.”

      Who is giving that answer? You? His parents? Society? And why is the answer no?

      • My heart sinks when the answer is no, when my sister paints my niece’s nails for aesthetic reasons, but declines to do the same for my nephew. No from his mother, and no from society, television, the media… (me and my other nephew (when we were around the same age) with a different sister used to have much fun dressing up in girls and boys outfits and doing makeup, but my other sister is much more left wing) it’s seen as weird or harmful, when really he just wants to explore fun stuff that’s labelled only girls are supposedly allowed to take part in…. encouraging cross gendering is big no, in children’s media, because children have to be taught to be gender aware or *something* ?? I don’t know. I should write a post on this!

  6. I just heard about the Pink Stinks campaign through the Endangered Species body image summit which went down in London a couple of weeks ago. I am shocked at the gender division of toys, not only the focus on exterior beauty for the girls (which does stink) but also the focus on violence for the boys. If I had it to do all over again (child rearing), I would just stick to Lego!

    • I know – hunt down the neutrality! I saw the Emma Thompson clip on your blog, Laura, and I found it really affecting. And I think the Pink Stinks ladies have a point – this consciousness of gender and one’s own body starts so early, and as Raisa says above, it’s all *just* marketing gone awry.

  7. Such an interesting topic! I grew up playing with barbies, but I’d be hard pressed to say if I had a girl, I would let her do the same. What really irks me is the gender specific toys such as tool sets for boys or kitchens for girls. That didn’t really exist when I was a kid (at least it didn’t to me). That’s why I love gender neutral toys like legos and blocks.

    • I’m wondering if that’s the way to go, or if other toys have to be used by both genders to rid them of their connotations! Undecided on that score… I was the same though, Courtney – aside from the mini kitchen ( which I suspect was more to do with independence than ’emulating Mummy’) I don’t remember being aware of such firm gender boundaries. Though we were put on a separate playground from the boys at school!

  8. I agree with you. I’m seeing it with my friends children, the lack of color options across both genders. It takes a level of mindfulness to try not to succumb to the stereotypes. I feel fortunate that we live in a progressive area but nonetheless, it still can be challenging. Like you said, it’s not so much the color itself that’s a problem, it’s the stereotypical generalizations that we are teaching our young.

    f
    The House in the Clouds

    • Exactly – from what I gather, it’s incredibly hard to avoid. Even if you make that choice as a parent, your child doesn’t live in a bubble, and the influence of friends is bound to sneak in even if tv ad stuff doesn’t.

  9. I did a post on pink guns (the real deal) during Breast Cancer Awareness month last October. And just today, I saw a headline about a woman who successfully defended herself with a pink gun. These things aside, Disney is making a mint off of 4 year-olds natural inclination to sort through their budding gender identities. Good luck fighting against that.

    • Well that’s the battle they’re trying to win by degrees – it’s a huge and powerful sales technique that impacts on impressionable little people! I’ll check out your pink gun post…

  10. I hated pink as a kid. HATED. and of course blue my preference and red, was denied to me. So that certain cloying pink you see all over girls stuff, I still don’t like. That said, the strong tone of pink on your tootsies don’t bother me. That’s not a passive hue. But for me an occasional pink is ok, but not that soft as cream cheese hue I call Barbie pink.

    • I know, that’s nauseating. Give me a ‘hot’ pink any day (now there’s a loaded name…!)
      I never liked pink either – always been a red girl. But there just weren’t as many pink things around in the 80s! Though – in connection with what we were saying the other day – I did have a pink shellsuit…

  11. Yes! Everything for little girls is pink! and it’s all princessy! People with daughters always tell me that even if you want to bring your child up with a broader sense of gender roles (and colours), they will pester you because they *want* the pink princess costume. Peer group and tv adverts and ‘music’ stars and all that stuff are SO important. That’s why i think it is so laughable when people talk about children being brought up gender neutral – there is no such thing because the culture is so gendered, and you can’t escape that!

    • Agreed. They’re got at from every angle. Bringing up ‘gender neutral’ children has got to be one hell of a job…especially when they start socialising with other children.

  12. Did you know in the early part of the 20th century pink was seen as a colour for male infants because it hinted at their red-blooded nature but was still baby-pastel? It changed with colour film, apparently.

  13. This mass saturation of pink wasn’t around when I was a child, I never wore the colour as my Mum hated it.
    Like the other commentators say, I don’t object to a splash of vivid pink but I loathe the way the colour is marketed at females with tool kits, hair appliances and phones. xxx

    • My mum was never a fan either. I had one pink My Little Pony sweater dress and that was it – I certainly never felt an overwhelming desire to be a princess. Though I did want to be tough like Wonderwoman or Catwoman, as I may have mentioned… 🙂 xxx

  14. The specific color is certainly not the problem, but as long as it remains tied to this out-dated female stereotype being marketed to girls at a younger and younger age, I cannot help but dislike it. Even as a kid I found it laughable that all Barbie accessories had to be pink (I think this was where the pink hype started), and proceeded to make my own Barbie furniture and clothes to change that (I think this was where my refashioning love started). Today I have hardly any pink in my wardrobe, but I’m slowly re-introducing it via salmon and berry tones. Something I cannot quite make up my mind about is the reclaiming of “shrieking” pink as a color for empowered yet girly-girl females. Is it a good or a bad thing? Is it just fake-reclaiming?

    • I know what you mean – I’m not sure it can be reclaimed, as the connotations are so strong. Plus I don’t think that would solve the problem of boys’ aversion to the colour. And I’m with you: berry and salmon pinks are more my style…apart from my shoes, of course!

  15. I like a bit of pink myself, but not the way it’s been coded culturally. I have four nieces, and shopping for presents for them is ridiculous. It feels like all toys are gendered, and all the pink/ballerinas/kittens everywhere make being female look really passive and a bit boring.

  16. Complete hindrance. I was overwhelmed by the amount of pink I received on the birth of my daughter, it seemed she was destined to live a life of pastel colours! I was very anti anything pink for a while but have now backed down because I actually really like the colour. Not pastel pink and not anything head to toe but deep vibrant pink is a great colour and is the colour of her first pair of shoes (she takes her style tips from mrs bossa I believe). I still hope she will be able to change the world despite this….

    But I digress, there is a direct link, in my mind, from pink for girls to barbies to a lot of very passive rolls for women and it’s very damaging for our children.

    I hope, in my idealistic way, that I will bring my daughter up to embrace all colours of the rainbow as equal, to understand what marketing is and how to ignore it and to run at all lifes opportunities. Possibly in her pink shoes!

    • Right on! I love a bit of vibrant pink from time to time…but I’m going to start taking style tips from her – the array of colours she wears is fantastic!!

  17. I am the sort of perso who doesn’t believe that there are many differences between men and women – that is to say I don’t for example believe that men possess a football loving gene in the same way women are not biologically predisposed to enjoy washing up. I think that differences that do exist are socially constructed which is largely a product of how children are socialised from a very early age – as boys and girls – two distinct opposing tribes, rather than individuals (which they are). As a consequence of this men can exhibit the same behaviour as women but the majority of both men and women seem to rationalise it very differently. For example when women are accused of being “bitchier” than men – this drives me mad (particularly when women say it) because men are mean and bitchy and terratorial but somehow such traits get positive masculine spin placed on them. So yes, there is nothing wrong with pink per se but what I appreciate about Pink Stinks is it’s attempt to break this cylce at the very source of it’s origin.

    • As do I. And I don’t go in for this ‘biological determinism’ rubbish either – it drives me mad when people’s behaviour is explained or excused because of gender. Have you read Deborah Cameron’s ‘The Myth of Mars and Venus’? She’s a linguist, and argues that there is more variety within a gender group than between them. But yes, children are socialised from a very early age; I’m horrified sometimes by their assumptions.

  18. My daughter and I go to the Disney Store a few times a week and she plays with Nemo and Dori and, more disturbingly, the hideous pink hoover that rattles around – she loves it. She’s also drawn towards these huge teapots (pink) with plastic (pink) crockery – very “girly” – and I find myself trying to drag her away from these items, but then there’s the alternative – swords, guns, cars – all in dark reds and greys. Both are just as irritating. There’s nothing to be done about it though – there’s no way the machine will stop – it works and has been for 50 years. I won’t enter into the debate with my daughter yet (she’s 2), but at some point I’ll be outlining precisely why I DO think Pink Stinks and she will understand that I don’t mean “ban pink” like the hystericos from the Daily Fail – but the blatant sexist connotations of Barbies in pink bikinis in their pink houses looking after their tanned hero men. Jordan is no accident.

    • “Jordan is no accident” may be my favourite statement from this page.

      The thing is, children are drawn to all bright colours, which makes it worse that their choices are limited. And it is just as bad for boys; I hear J saying he “loves fighting” like he’s trying to convince himself. Like you say, you just need to have the conversation when she’s old enough to listen…along with Page 3 and everything else you have to try and counteract!!

  19. Well ever the informative costume historian here – until after WWII boys wore pink and girls wore blue. Pink was the derivative from red, red representing Mars and blue was from Venus representing love. Mars was masculine and Venus was feminine.

    Pink is a marketing ploy. I grew up in an era where kids clothes were the same if not similar to adults and actually in the 70s there wasn’t much choice. I wore blue, red, green, orange, white, yellow and everything. I don’t know when kids clothes became so gender specific and so well pink! And I don’t know when the female became nothing but a Disney character.

    If you go to the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green you get a very different view of how children used to play. Okay boys did tend to get Meccano sets etc but the colours were less specific and everything was more action orientated.

    Much as I love those kids Moto scooters – why they have to be blue and pink is beyond me they are the same thing – surely they could have introduced a few more or choosen two colours with no gender specification.

    I think the pink issue is very important and the sooner it is squashed the better. I like pink but I choose to like it and I love a pink shirt on a guy, very sexy!

    • I do, actually – and Mr B has a hot pink vintage t-shirt that he looks great in.

      Pink is now an incredibly cunning marketing tool – make it pink and they’ll want it. It’s a shame, and as I say above, it has much more significant effect on children then we realise. It’d be better if it didn’t have as strong a link to housekeeping and beautifying. Love your quote about the female being nothing but a Disney character – perfectly summed up!

  20. Hello Fabulous Mrs Bossa… I haven’t given this particular issue too much thought because I’m continue to be boggled by the fact that pink is used to ‘soften’ females when really… it’s the opposite.

    Pink… was originally for boys. Pink is a masculine colour. Pink is the colour of blood.. when it’s seen in battle. As a pink mist…

    If I may… this is a post I wrote last year about Pink (the colour)

    Pink is an assertive colour. It’s a dynamic colour.

    I love pink. LOVE. It makes me feel strong. Not just because of the reasons I cite but also because of it’s modern day association of being girlie and ‘soft’. I love the dichotomy.

    I used to be a rugby union journalist. Wearing pink to interviews and press junkets, ensured I stood out AND…gave me such an edge! I do tend to go out of my way to break stereotypes. It’s amusing.

    …the funny thing is… pink may be more prevalent for females now because females have more of a voice now… we’re stronger… more assertive. More comfortable demanding our right to be heard. Maybe pink is occuring on a subliminal level as a “take me seriously” sign but on the superficial level it’s being read with archaic eyes.

    • A quote from my ‘Mister Pink’ post;

      Men, particularly in the western world, may no longer feel comfortable asserting their masculinity by wearing pink but women need to wear more pink to tap IN to their masculine energy. Plus in order to break gender stereotyping, we need to own and mold

    • Hello lady, and thanks for stopping by!

      I love your take on this, and I will check out your post tout de suite. Pink can be a dynamic colour, and I’d be happy for it to be associated wth stronger, more pro-active things…but I’d rather colours weren’t so heavily gender-coded at all.

      I suspect you could single-handedly run this revolution, D!

  21. Some people need to get out more. Most little girls love a bit of a pink fairy fantasty – that doesnt mean they wont equally like rolling around in the mud, building spaceships with lego etc. Things are only an issue if you let them becomes so. In my opinion most kids will ask for what ever toy that excites them, I am pretty sure they dont even notice the colour! Personally I am not really a pink clothing wearer but I have a bag and a few lipsticks. It is just one of many colours. What I have issues with are kids being dresses up in make up and heels, that is wrong!

    • You have to ask why though? And why should it be the norm. Why does my niece have a desire, that no one in my family has put to her, to want to try on my shoes constantly when she visits me? Even at 3 she is subject to the gender marketing that the media have sent messages about what constitutes being a girl. And she definitely *wants* pink, offer her something blue or green, she will proudly proclaim,”blue is for boys not for girls!” Not even in the 90’s was there so much pink for girls clothing, toys, bikes whatever, like there is today. Have you been to toys r us recently? Everything is pink, and that one shade of cheap consumerist pink too.

  22. Thanks for the link to PinkStinks – be checking it out soon!
    Like you, I never really wore pink, but not because I didn’t want to (that I remember), just that there wasn’t loads of it about. My sister had Barbies and a lot of pink accessories, but she also played with Hot Wheels and toy cars!

    Pink as a shade can be fabulous, and one of the most interesting connotations might be of pink as the ‘watered down’ shade of red – which, of course, culturally can signify anger, blood, stop, organs, sex, menstruation. So does putting women in pink help calm some of these raging red urges? Maybe…

  23. Reminds of the book that came out recently called “Cinderella Ate my Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein (Amazon link here: http://www.amazon.com/Cinderella-Ate-Daughter-Dispatches-Girlie-Girl/dp/0061711527). I think as parents, it’d be hard to straight-out censor pink from all toys, but the most important part would be to have a frank discussion about how pink is constructed as the desirable “feminine” colour from early on. Talking about the socialization process together seems like the best way to go – so even if the child wants to play with certain pink toys, she would be aware of where the desire comes from.

    Then again, I have no kids of my own, so maybe I shouldn’t be talking about my hypothetical reactions so soon…

    • I think that’s a good point there are a lot of things ‘wrong’ in the world from a feminist point of view, and if we can’t hope to solve them by the time we have children, the least we can do is educate them so they don’t get manoeuvered into ridiculous stereotypes!

  24. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve said.

    On a highly depressing note, an ex of mine refused to carry a raspberry-pink suitcase at the age of 26 for fear of looking, as he put it, like a ‘pansy boy’.

  25. Really up until the 20th century, pink (atleast in the West) was considered a masculine and virile color. I don’t have children, but some of my friends and my sister-in-law have recently had kids, and they report that it is practically impossible to avoid pink for girls. Even when they have specifically requested it, they have been given tons of baby clothes and toys for infants in the color pink.

    I like pink. I like blue. I like purple. I grew up wearing more reds and blues than pinks, but that was in the 80s when pink hadn’t saturated the market to quite the same extent.

    • Same here. Red and green were my favourites, and I was hardly aware of pink at all. But now it’s everywhere, from dressing gowns to hairbrushes, from mini cleaning kits to duvet covers.

  26. I didn’t like the colour pink much as a kid, and only wear certain shades as an adult. Seeing parents who have clad their little girls in head to toe pink makes me cringe because it seems like such a soft, helpless colour. However, sometimes pink can be a very hopeful colour, when seen in an unusual context. I had my hair coloured platinum blonde and hot pink for about a year, and I couldn’t believe the number of women who stopped me and said how much they loved the colour and wished they could be brave enough to do that, so in that instance, it seemed to be more about strength than softness, and more punk than pretty. And I love to see a dark haired man wearing a pink shirt!

    • Ha, ditto!

      That’s a really interesting point, actually – the connotations fall down when it comes to hair. I love pink hair too, and it’s perhaps because it’s still considered so unconventional…and ‘brave’, yes!

  27. I thought long and hard about pink when I found out I was pregnant with a girl. Growing up, my mom didn’t avoid pink, but in the ’70s hot decor colors were yellow and orange, and there wasn’t as much clothing branded to cartoons and children television. Gosh, there wasn’t even a pink Sesame Street character.

    My parents didn’t dress my sister and I in a lot of pink, I was raised to think pink was just like any other color. Sure Barbie’s car, house, camper, etc. was in that color but I thought it was her signature color as my mom’s was cobalt blue.

    Colors have always been associated with certain ideas, thoughts, implications. As others mentioned, pink used to be used for baby boys because it was a softer color of red – a power color. Blue was seen as virgin, pure, docile (think Mary, who is always portrayed in blue). Purple is royalty, red can signify so many things dependant on the culture, etc.

    I buy my daughter pink things because I like the color like any other color. However I don’t try to purchase her items that could be seen as “just for women” in pink (a toy dishwasher, shopping cart, baby carriage) because I think that is encouraging such a stereotype. I also try to have just as many other colors in her life so SHE can choose what colors make her happy (right now it’s a toss up between purple and green). As a mother of a little one, I see the problem to be less the color than how the color is used. When it is used to encourage prejudices and when used in conjunction with items that perpetuate prejudices, that is when I get up in arms. My child may wear a pink tee shirt, but she will NEVER wear one that is pink and also says “diva” or “princess” or “spoiled.” I believe this campaign may help parents stop and think about what they purchase for their daughters before they slap down the credit card. Anything that will help people open their eyes works for me.

    • I think that’s as much as we can hope for, and we owe it to kids to steer them off this very limiting path. I hate hate hate those “diva” t-shirts; it sickens me!

      I felt the same about Barbie – I associated it with her, not necessarily with girliness, but it wasn’t as pervasive as it is now, not so heavily merchandised.

  28. First off, those shoes are freakin’ fabulous.

    Mrs. B, this entry is amazing. I never thought about the color connotations before! I don’t remember being particularly bombarded with pink as a child, but I did love Barbie and her pink things, and to be honest, my favorite colors have always been pink — followed by purple! I never really knew why…

    The worst was when I was younger — in middle and high school, I remember if a boy wore pink, he was made fun of and called ‘gay.’ However, it was perfectly fine for girls to wear blue! Hmm… Double standard?

    The segregation of pink and blue for girls and boys really has such a deeper meaning that I’ve never understood before. One thing I thought of that you didn’t mention, though, was how parents tend to dress their babies in a certain color so that others know the sex of the baby. So many infants are born without hair and the parents don’t want to risk being offended if someone were to call it the wrong gender. Then again, they could dress up the girl in bows or something to make her more feminine…

    • The double standard you mention symbolises the whole issue for me – girls happily wearing blue while boys refuse to wear pink shows you what a limiting and damaging effect the marketing has on them. I think bows etc may well have similar connotations. Yes, we need to fight for equal pay etc…but it starts way before any of us get to the workplace!!

      And yes, I love those shoes. Theyre very special. 🙂

  29. A fantastic post, this is something I often think about.
    As a little girl I wasn’t bombarded with pink, in fact my mum more often put me in colours like purple, black, white, blue and red than in plain old pink. On the toy front I also wasn’t force fed the pinkified toys of today, I had diggers and trucks, cars and most of the baby dolls I had didn’t wear pink. I did have barbies, plastic shoes and polly pockets, most of which were very pink indeed, but I think the important thing was that it wasn’t ALL pink.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with little girls being given pink toys, or ‘feminine’ toys, but I don’t like that in today’s world that seems to be all that is around for them and little boys have this huge fear of pink or playing with anything girly. Girls should be allowed to play with whatever toys they like, not just what is deemed girly enough for them, and I feel the same about boys on the opposite end of the scale. I grew up mostly playing with my male cousins and we all played with the same toys, they played with my dolls and makeup and I played with their action men and trucks. I think it’s important for parents to try and provide their children with lots of different options for toys, not just what is being shoved down our throats as acceptable or not.

    • “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with little girls being given pink toys, or ‘feminine’ toys, but I don’t like that in today’s world that seems to be all that is around for them and little boys have this huge fear of pink or playing with anything girly.”

      Exactly. I hope I communicated that I don’t have a problem with the colour pink, but we have to acknowledge that when it chosen as the colour for certain types of toys the message becomes overwhelming…!

  30. I think this is a very enlightened post and a refreshing read. But I just don’t associate “gender roles” and discrimination with pink. It is my favorite color, but as a little girl I hated it. It wasn’t until I was much older that I fell in love with the color, mainly because I loved how feminine I felt wearing it. It embodied everything that made me proud to be a woman. Plus, Audrey Hepburn said “I believe in pink” and she was a strong woman who I do believe changed the world. Anyways, just my two sense.

    And by the way, those are hot shoes!

    http://alamodeetplus.blogspot.com/

  31. This is a great topic and it makes a great post 🙂 I like pink, and I love campaigns as breast cancer and others using pink to symbolise feminism, strenght, empowerment to all women. What I think is wrong is to stigmatise anyone who wants to play outside the rules, or see pink as something girlie and therefore degrading? I also think that the toy industry is PLAGUED with prejudice, narrow minded stereotyping, and they have A LOT to answer in terms of sexism. Let kids be kids, and no it’s not natural for boys to want guns, or for girls to want to be princesses. When I was a child I hated anything pink, and didn’t want to dress up like a princess or anything overtly-girly. Now I love the colour, it’s fun and I love it when cleverly used in ad campaings.

  32. Pingback: How to Colour Block in Vintage…Whilst Moving House.

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