Why is Pink a Girly Color?

Speaking of reddit (I mentioned reddit in my last post – we’re getting episodic up in here!), one of my favorite subreddits is Explain Like I’m Five.  /r/explainlikeimfive is the subreddit in which people ask questions that are meant to be answered in simple terms that a five-year-old would understand.

Like so:

/u/Kezumi asks: Why is Pink Considered a Girly Color?

A: (via /u/DishonestStranger) Originally, pink was designated for boys, as it was thought to be the stronger color. In Christian tradition, red was associated as male, and pink was used for boys. Blue was associated with the Virgin Mary and therefore considered soft and feminine.

After WWI, blue was used extensively for men’s uniforms. Therefore, blue became associated as more of a masculine color. From the 1940’s onward, pink was pushed as a woman’s color. “Think Pink” was the marketing slogan to convince women to embrace their femininity. Dressing girls in pink reinforced this role by conditioning with a set of rules that started with little girls, made of ‘sugar and spice and everything nice.’

This is a pretty descriptive article on the subject.

Definitely one of the good ones – informative, simple, and links to content that goes further in depth on the subject.

I’ve actually run into this question (and this answer) before. Many times. Ever since I was a little kid. Like this little kid right here:

I feel you, honey. I ran into a similar issue when I tried to buy new golf clubs recently. All I wanted were some regular old clubs, which to me means earth tone handles in a bag that doesn’t look like it belongs to Barbie, but this was not to be. Even adult women are stuck with pink and purple, because apparently we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if the products made for us didn’t match our old Lisa Frank Trapper Keepers. Long story short, my new clubs are purple, and now every time I go to the driving range, some dude tries to “help me out” because he thinks I’ve never swung a club before. Because I have freakin’ purple Barbie-looking golf clubs.

So. In conclusion. Short answer: the pink is pretty much arbitrary. So is the purple. As we all know, purple used to be the color of royalty. Now it’s the color of Barbie’s friend – what’sherface, the brunette. I’m pretty sure her color is purple.

Pink and purple being designated “girly” colors is a societal construct. So why is it so annoying? Maybe because it’s infantilizing. In fact, I’m 90% sure it’s because it’s infantilizing. Pink and purple are little girl colors, so why is there a product line called TomboyTools trying to sell me pink power tools? I guess owning a hammer makes me a tomboy, because if I were a real lady, I’d have snagged a big strong man to do everything for me. And if I’m going to use a hammer, it had better be pink so I don’t get all confused about my role in society.

Yikes. Pretty sure I could write a dissertation on this subject. I’m guessing someone already has. I’ll link to it here if I come across that one.

Leave a Reply