Pink: The Unfortunate Gendered History Of A Great Color

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HistoryOff Beat 4 Comments

A June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department noted, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

According to Smithsonian.com, pink didn’t become a delicate, “girl” color until the 1940s when retailers/manufacturers started interpreting what they thought Americans’ wanted. This new pink = girl idea quickly waned in the 60s and 70s, compliments of the women’s liberation movement, as the unisex look became all the rage (in the 1970s, the Sears, Roebuck catalog pictured no pink toddler clothing for two years).

But pretty in pink for girls came blazing back in the mid-80s, and its choke hold on identifying all things feminine continues to tighten today, thanks, once again, to manufacturers producing and marketers pushing what they think all women and girls want.

Consequently, the beautiful rosy hue, an innocent bystander of mass consumerism, is often vilified in the current fight for gender neutrality and the third wave of feminism. It’s branded as an “ultra-feminine” and “girly girl” color, labels that have sadly come to be associated with negative stereotypes and, consequently, a lack of female strength, as well as a lack of choice.

Despite its blemished rep, when you consider the actual definition of pink – “the best condition or degree”, as in “perfection”, “the finest” or “the greatest” – it’s a color we should all be celebrating (after all, it’s a derivative of red, the color of strength). We don’t, however, because humans (some) get pink all wrong.

But if we look at how pink organically shows up in nature, we see how stunning, unique, and powerful the color is when done right by Mother Nature, not botched by some misguided, gender-bent manufacturers.


How Nature Rocks Pink…

Pink Lake Hillier

lake-hillier

The pink in this Australian lake is 100% au naturale (the water even stays pink when it’s taken out of the lake). It’s thought to be pink due to a dye created by organisms or bacteria in the lake. Source: My Cause Water


Pink River Dolphin

pink-river-dolphin3

The Pink River Dolphin is found in freshwater rivers in the Amazon. Not only are they the largest freshwater dolphins in the world, legends say they have special powers. Source: NatGeo


Pink Katydids

pink-katydid

Commonly green, this katydid’s eye-popping pink color is the subject of scientific debate. The top 3 causes are speculated to be: 1) a genetic mutation 2) a type of camouflage 3) that pink is actually the dominant genetic color, but because of directional selection green is more prominent in the wild. Source: Popular Mechanics


Pink Hippo

pink-hippo

This rare pink hippo was spotted on the banks of the Mara River in Kenya. Its blushing pink skin is the result of a reduction in all types of skin pigment. Sadly, its unique color makes these hippos more conspicuous to predators, so they don’t typically survive long, and also causes them to suffer from sunburn. Source: Paw Nation


Pink Slugs

hot pink slug

The existence of these giant, 8-inch fluorescent pink slugs on Mount Kaputar, a 5,000-foot peak in New South Wales, Australia, was only confirmed in 2013. Source: MNN


Pink Tree Frog

pink tree frog

Check out the exotic bubblegum pink color of this fascinating pink red eyed tree frog. Source: Frog Forum


Pink Halite

pink halite searleslake

This gem stone from Searles Lake, California is believed to cleanse the heart of emotional wounds, making it a wonderful stone to promote self-love. How WYSKy! Image: Geology Guy

  • AngelaRGonzales

    It’s branded as an “ultra-feminine, girly girl” color that feeds into negative stereotypes, and is therefore, associated with a lack of female strength and to some degree a lack of choice. http://0rz.tw/9BIIY

  • Dee

    I disagree!!! Pink happens to be my favorite color and I do actually own pink pepper spray, pink weights, pink tools, and someday I’ll plasti dip my car pink when I raise enough money to do it. I am NOT a girly girl nor was I brought up to be. I was a tomboy in my youth and my favorite color back then was red. Now I like fuchsia and purple and I like that companies make pink things for me because white, gray, beige, and black and soooo blah!

  • wndola

    What is the point here?

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