Pink things/blue things

datePosted on 10:36, March 3rd, 2009 by Lew

Pink and blue are the canonical respective colours of femininity and masculinity, right? Always have been, and across cultures? Well, I’ve known for ages that blue was a traditionally feminine colour in the Judeo-Christian tradition, at least since the Virgin Mary apparently wore a blue cowl. JeongMee Yoon, in her Pink and Blue Project, argues it was the opposite until post-war. Since then, however, the change has been resoundingly reinforced by a powerful consumer feedback loop; nowadays girls want pink things because pink things are for girls and girls are marked as girls by their pink things. Substitute `blue’ and `boys’ for the converse.

Two of Yoon’s stunning images from The Pink and Blue Project illustrate this:

seowoo-and-her-pink-things

seunghyuk-and-his-blue-things

L

18 Responses to “Pink things/blue things”

  1. Julie Fairey on March 3rd, 2009 at 10:54

    Not sure why this is but Lew I often find the images you post take forever to come up for view, if they don’t just fail at all. Maybe you need to use smaller sized versions? Don’t know…

  2. Paul Williams on March 3rd, 2009 at 13:55

    Fantastic images. I know that despite my best efforts at home, my daughter’s developed a strong preference for pink… She tells me pink IS a girls colour, just look at Barbie… I despair!

  3. Anita on March 3rd, 2009 at 14:15

    Lew,

    Yep yep :)

    I have always been a little interested in the association of blue with the Virgin Mary. It’s woven throughout our language (rosemary, a blue flower, was named for it, for example) but we seem to have completely lost that sense.

  4. Graeme on March 3rd, 2009 at 14:29

    We might also ask why do we assume that all the toys in the blue picture are boys’ toys, and all the toys in the pick picture girls’ toys?

    Maybe one picture is of pink toys and clothes and the other of blue toys and clothes?

  5. Lew on March 3rd, 2009 at 14:44

    Julie,

    Not sure why this is but Lew I often find the images you post take forever to come up for view, if they don’t just fail at all. Maybe you need to use smaller sized versions? Don’t know…

    I don’t usually give much consideration to image size – normally it shouldn’t be a problem but these images in the original size are huge – ~450kb each. I’ve downsized them some; hopefully that’s more better.

    Paul,

    I have a daughter who’s yet too young to prefer some colours to others on the grounds of identity – her mother and I are pretty sanguine about such matters, figuring that the best approach is neither to make a colour precious by making it artificially scarce, nor to make it the default. I may yet come to rue this decision.

    Graeme,

    The two images are entitled `SeoWoo and Her Pink Things’ and `Seunghyuk and His Blue Things’. It’s not a random collection of stuff – it’s their own stuff.

    L

  6. StephenR on March 3rd, 2009 at 15:53

    Men traditionally have been vilified for wearing/using pink *anythings*, but now clothes (top half) are increasingly acceptable (for straight guys, notably), could be the tide is slowly turning in that respect. why?

    Females are never vilified for wearing blue, but men are/used to be for wearing pink…

  7. BLiP on March 3rd, 2009 at 16:28

    Just idly speculating . . .

    Perhaps pink being associated with the feminine is a cultural hangover from the 1940’s when the Nazis made homosexuals wear pink triangles. Up until then, pink was associated with males and the wearer of the pink triangle was apparently identified as liking males, rather than being feminine. Many of the wearers of the pink triangle were kept in prison by the Allies when “liberation” arrived.

  8. Mikaere on March 3rd, 2009 at 18:00

    We travelled through Europe, Kathmandu and Bangkok when our daughter was about only a few months old. We often dressed her in blue, and Europeans would automatically assume she was a boy.

    But in Asia, we found that people would ask for confirmation of her gender. I took it to mean that pink/blue was a Western construct.

    just look at Barbie… I despair!
    Have you seen a Gujarati Barbie ? Brown skin with a nose-ring, and no pink at all. There are other Indian Barbies, so see if you get you hands on one.

  9. Ari on March 3rd, 2009 at 19:43

    Didn’t one of the crew from the hand mirror post this last year? It certainly looks familiar, and I don’t think I saw it on Feministing or Shakesville.

  10. Anita on March 3rd, 2009 at 19:48

    Ari,

    I think you probably mean this (also here).

  11. QoT on March 3rd, 2009 at 22:50

    We might also ask why do we assume that all the toys in the blue picture are boys’ toys, and all the toys in the pick picture girls’ toys?

    Because on the photographer’s site, all the photos are listed with the names of the children featured “& his/her blue/pink toys”. All the insanely-pink pictures belong to children identified as “she”. All the insanely-blue pictures belong to children identified as “he”.

    We “assume” it, Graeme, because anyone with half a brain who knows any children can see it for themselves.

  12. Lew on March 3rd, 2009 at 22:58

    But it is an interesting question: I wonder if I could get a blue moulded-plastic hairdrier like SeoWoo has, or a pink sword like Seunghyuk has …

    The first thing I bought for my daughter was a fishing rod. She was about four months in utero. It’s red :)

    L

  13. The Odds & Ends Drawer | The Hand Mirror on March 4th, 2009 at 11:31

    The Odds & Ends Drawer…

    Here be goodies:…

  14. Tamara on March 5th, 2009 at 10:59

    Most of my toddler girl’s clothes come courtesy of my aunt in Israel and very few of them are pink. This may be due to my instructions but the fact that it’s possible to get so much cool stuff in other colours suggests that westernised Israel may be escaping this as well.

  15. Julie Fairey on March 5th, 2009 at 12:16

    It has been more better with the smaller pic sizes, thanks Lew.

    We didn’t find out the gender of our baby until birth and so most of the stuff we were given beforehand was neither blue nor pink. But since then… Well we have more than enough light blue to do a whole load of blue washing on a weekly basis. I even had the experience of buying some red socks at Pumpkin Patch once and they told me that was a “girl colour”. Really? Tell that to Manchester United!

  16. […] social movement unionism and finally, the ever present reminder of this post: […]

  17. Lucy Price on September 1st, 2011 at 02:41

    Jeez – thats allot of pink stuff! It’s funny that there seems to be a world wide interest (mostly amongst girls and women) in pink coloured objects, clothes or even gadgets like mobile phones. There are sites all over the internet dedicated to this pink stuff like http://www.ohsopink.com. Many of the larger retailers like play.com or amazon also have sections for pink stuff. I can’t really see what the attraction is!

  18. Katy on February 23rd, 2012 at 10:55

    Graeme; the children are IN the pictures with their things, it’s hardly an assumption!

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