November 23, 2008

"At five years old, she loves pink so much that she wants to wear only pink clothes and use only pink toys or objects."

That would be the daughter of photographer Jeongmee Yoon:
To make "The Pink and Blue Project" images, I visit the child's room, where I display and rearrange his/her colored accessories. I ask my models to pose for me with their pink or blue objects, in an effort to show the viewer the extent to which children and their parents, knowingly or unknowingly, are influenced by advertising and popular culture. I first lay out the larger items, blankets or coats, and then spread smaller articles on top of the clothes. This method references objects that are displayed in a museum collection. In some pictures, the children even look like dolls.
Via Andrew Sullivan, who calls the kids "children who would only wear and buy gender specific clothes and toys." Do the kids deserve that? I see a pink shovel and a blue vacuum cleaner. To have a favorite color -- the color the culture assigns to your sex -- is not necessarily to want only sex-typed toys and clothes. Are these children stereotypes or are we adults stereotypers?

Consider the possibility that children have powerful aesthetic principles, that they love color as color, and that they perceive order in monochrome.

Of course, there is nothing inherently masculine about blue or feminine about pink:
[F]or centuries, all European children were dressed in blue because the color was associated with the Virgin Mary. The use of pink and blue emerged at the turn of the century, the rule being pink for boys, blue for girls. Since pink was a stronger color it was best suited for boys; blue was more delicate and dainty and best for girls. And in 1921, the Women's Institute for Domestic Science in Pennsylvania endorsed pink for boys, blue for girls.
There's a W.C. Fields movie -- maybe "The Bank Dick" -- where a woman annoys him -- women annoy him in every movie -- by fretting over whether pink is for boys and blue for girls or the other way around. That would have been around 1940.

Surely, there are children who latch onto colors other than blue or pink. I remember my mother deciding that orange was the right color for me, and I believed that for a while.


Joan said...

Do the kids deserve that?

Of course not. My daughter loves pink, her entire room is pink. It is her choice, just as it has been her choice her entire life to ignore all dolls and play with stuffed animals instead. I understand why she likes pink, it's bright and cheerful and pretty. Her favorite outfits the past couple of years combine pink and gray, or pink and brown. She's 10.

My nearly 12-year-old son looks great in pink (he's very fair-skinned) and when choosing his own casual clothes often has pink somewhere. My youngest, contrary to his older siblings, likes blue and green but really doesn't care, God bless him.

Some kids, of course, are pushed int a color preference, but my theory is they then push back later in life. That's why there are so many Goth and Emo kids walking around dressing exclusively in black. The idea that kids don't have their own preferences -- and begin expressing them at very young ages -- comes from people who don't spend much time with children.

bearbee said...



Expat(ish) said...

When my all-boy oldest boy (did I mention he is all boy?) was learning to ride he wanted his new bike to be pink b/c it was his favorite color. We got him a red one with pink streamers. The streamers did not survive the next cub scout bike ride-a-thon. But, 10 years later, pink is still his favorite color.

I think people who worry about this stuff have too few children. They should have one or two more and then they'd stop caring except as it makes it easier to sort 45 individual socks into the right piles.


Meade said...

"I remember my mother deciding that orange was the right color for me, and I believed that for a while."

If you were my daughter, I'd have dressed you in blue - just to try and calm you down a little.

(At least until you quit believing me that you needed calming down.)

Ron said...

Now, now! Let's be fair to Fields. If you weren't offering him a drink or cash, everyone annoyed him!

BJM said...

Children fixate on a chosen food or color at one time or another, it's perfectly normal.

Far more disturbing to me is the amount of commercially driven crap the parents have given these two kids, not the color.

zeek said...

Are we sure this isn't just one of Christo's weird art projects? Wrap a child in pink.

MayBee said...

Penn State's original school colors- the unanimous choice of the student body in 1887- were dark pink and black. Team uniforms were made this color combination.

The color scheme remained in effect until 1890. It had to be changed because the pink dye of the time faded when exposed for a few weeks to the bright sun.

TMink said...

I have three pink shirts and enjoy them often, well, more often in warmer weather.

Both my girls started as pink girls, but at about 5 my eldest daughter went more tom boy. I really do not see the problem with my children self selecting for and being comfortable with their gender. In fact, I see it as a plus!

Wondering why anyone would see the natural neurological gender preferences of children as a problem I considered that this was Sullivan you were talking about: Then it all made sense.


Synova said...

My son's first expressed color preference (age 2?) was bright pink. Not soft pink, the loudest, darkest, brightest pink possible. Eventually he moved on to red.

My daughter decided she liked blue (which was my favorite color, too).

The next two girls got yellow and green for "favorite" colors. By that time they sort of had to chose colors that weren't already "taken".

The "yellow" girl tends to like pink and purple, but isn't picky at all.

The "green" girl's favorite color is orange. She won't wear anything girly, which means no pink, no way.

Synova said...

In the end, though, the *kids* don't buy their stuff.

And parents can only pick from what is in stores. (Or in the stores they can afford to shop at.)

Anonymous said...

The idea that kids don't have their own preferences -- and begin expressing them at very young ages -- comes from people who don't spend much time with children.


My two girls, ages 7 & 4, love the color pink and have since they were old enough to express a preference.

You can hold up a blue shirt for them to look at and the first question they ask is if it comes in pink.

Walk down an aisle of shoes and the 4 yr old heads straight for the pink, purple and/or sparkly shoes. Combine all three and she's in shoe nirvana.

PJ said...

Yeah, right. My niece was raised in a tonka trunk gender-neutral home and university neighborhood where pink was called "the color of oppression" by mommies in the co-op.

She's now 9 and has been a pinkaholic for 7 years straight. Every present I get her is pink or purple because I want to make her happy.

Girls, especially little blonde girls, like pink and purple. And sparkles. Just deal with it. I don't see that little boys have any special affinity for blue or any color frankly, but they hate pink.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

My mother and brother are color blind, so who knows what their favorite colors are. My mother thought that her favorite dress as a teenager was green until informed that is was actually brown, which is when they discovered she was color blind. My sister in law dresses my brother, verifies he is wearing the same color socks and clothing that doesn't make him look silly.

As for was always and still is the favorite.

Anonymous said...

When I was a Marine, I deliberately forced all of my roommates to tolerate a particular excentricity of mine, which was I always wanted to get in peoples faces, with just the smallest things.

I had a plant, that had a slylized pot, marked "fido" and on "field day" I would park fido in front of the door with a printout that said something stupid like "be careful, he bites."

Also, all the tile in Marine Corps baracks is blue or blue-grey or some variation of blue, and I bought pink shower curtans, pink tooth brush holders, pink soap holders and pink towels. I wold always get asked about this from newtimers who didn't know me, "Why you have pink towels?" "takes a real man to dry his balls witha pink towel."

Along those lines, I've owned and worn a bunch of things that are Blue, but never anything that is powder blue, and while my towels were pink, they weren't hot pink.

Colors aren't related to gender, or gender preference, it's who you are, and having gay friends, and having a history of not caring much about stuff, I would do everything I could to irritate people who were locked into a mindset.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought the identification of girls with pink and boys with blue came from the color of the their respective genitalia. The inside of the labia minora is deep pink. The fully engorged glans penis, on the other hand, has a bluish tinge.