Pink Stuff Is For Girls
Posted by Mel Campbell on November 27, 2008
We’ve had debates on this blog before about princess culture, and to what extent the toys and pop culture that little girls grow up with determine their values as women. South Korean photographer JeongMee Joon has dramatised this stuff in a portrait series of girls and boys with their stuff. She calls it Pink And Blue.
Startling stuff, eh? In an interview with illustration blog Lost At E Minor, Joon says:
“The project began from my five-year-old daughter, who loved the color pink so much that she wanted to wear only pink clothes and play with only pink toys and objects. I discovered that my daughter’s case was not unusual. In the United States, South Korea, and elsewhere, most young girls love pink clothing, accessories and toys. This phenomenon is widespread among children of various ethnic groups, regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Perhaps it’s the influence of pervasive commercial advertisements aimed at little girls and their parents, such as the universally popular Barbie and Hello Kitty merchandise that has developed into a modern trend. Girls train subconsciously, and unconsciously, to wear the color pink in order to look feminine’.”
Asked whether the kids themselves demand pink stuff, or whether it’s the parents, she says: “Some children are just obsessed with pink things, and some children just like the color pink as their favorite. Some parents did not want pink colors, but the kids want it. Also, most boys did not have obsession about blue colors, but our society already divided their thoughts about gender for color’.”
Personally I don’t think the colours themselves carry damaging cultural meanings, although I’m aware of arguments like, “Pink is a watered-down version of red – how come boys get a strong primary colour?” A lot of the colours given to children are pale pastels anyway; and hot pink is arguably a more powerful colour than baby blue.
It’s the way these colours are coded to feminine and masculine stereotypes that is troubling. Also troubling is the sexist assumption that women are so nuts for pink that they can be persuaded to buy anything in that colour. Hence we see pink razors (same as men’s version; just different colour), pink power drills, pink mobile phones…. and of course, the orgy of pink consumerism surrounding breast cancer research.