08 January 2009

Pretty in pink? Or not??

Some commentators now believe pink dominates the upbringing of little girls, and this may be damaging. Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood, says the "total obsession" with pink stunts girls' personalities. "I am very worried about it. You can't find girls over the age of three who aren't obsessed with the colour. It's under their skin from a very early age and severely limits choices, and decisions.

"We have got to get something done about the effect marketeers are having. We are creating little fluffy pink princess, an image of girliness, that is very specific and which some girls don't want to go along with, but due to overwhelming peer pressure, are having to conform to."

Enter any toy store or children's clothing department and it's easy to spot the gender divide - one side is floor-to-ceiling pink, the other camouflage shades with the odd dash of orange and blue. Hence discussion boards on parenting websites bemoan the fact it is "impossible" to buy any other colour for girls.
More details at the BBC link. I think this concern is kind of silly, but I'll defer to more experienced parents. What most interested me was the following historical bit about color and gender; I had no idea the colors were reversed a century ago:
How different it was in the early 1900s, when blue was for girls and pink for boys.

The Women's Journal explained it thus: "That pink being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

DressMaker magazine agreed. "The preferred colour to dress young boys in is pink. Blue is reserved for girls as it is considered paler, and the more dainty of the two colours, and pink is thought to be stronger (akin to red)."

What prompted the switch is unclear, but it had been made by the time Adolf Hitler ordered the classification of homosexuals. Those deemed "curable" were sent to concentration camps and labelled with a pink triangle. This suggests that by then, pink was associated with femininity.


  1. This actually is a problem. Telling children they should fit into their gender role or sexuality in a certain way is like telling them which hand they should write with or which jokes they should find funny. Childhood is the most expressive and creative time in a person's life and we should be free of shackles that are imposed simply to label us and define our traditional place in society. Girls do not wear pink for health benefits or because they are naturally drawn to it - they do it for the same reason that we write from left to right in English: that's how we are taught we should do it.

    Not only does forcing colour standards on children stifle their expressiveness, it begins the indoctrination of sexism that pervades adult life. Women must be soft, pretty and refined, men must be solid, clever, independent. There is more to what we do than meets the eye and colours can colour our views of ourselves and others.

  2. Call me a progressive thinker, but I don't think this a concern as long as parents don't make it one. There are toys out there which are not pink for little girls. My niece's favorite color is purple. Her sister's is pink. Some little girls are naturally drawn to the color (when I say naturally it is that they choose the color themselves rather than having it thrust upon them). I was always drawn to blue and had no problem as a little girl growing up with blue toys. It seems like people really just want to find anything to complain about in order to get noticed.

  3. I'm getting pretty darn tired of those pink AR-15's. Didn't even look good on Baghdad Barbie, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, what's so unfeminine about desert candy, or mossy oak?

    Y'see what I'm sayin?

  4. My oldest daughter's favorite color was, and still is, yellow. Daughter #2 said gold violet was her favorite. We were never able to produce it to her satisfaction. The youngest has had all different favorites over the years. They are all self-confident, successful women. Oh. And #2 is an artist. She still hasn't been able to make gold violet.


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