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Rants / Debates (Serious) > Are the color pink and all its implications bad for girls?

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments A new book raises the question...

But an overemphasis on pink can eventually be harmful, Orenstein says. "Those little differences that are innate to boys and girls, if they're allowed to flourish by having kids grow up in separate cultures, become big gaps.

"When your daughter is sitting there in her room, with her pink princess dress and her pink Scrabble kit … and her pink Magic 8-Ball, it just makes those divisions so much bigger and so much harder to cross."


http://www.npr.org/2011/02/05/1334716...

Overkill? False alarm? Crazyass author trying to sell books? Right on target? What do you think?

(I'm not sure whether to put in serious or non-serious faceoffs...let's go with...serious, but be unserious if you'd like.)


message 2: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca White (rebecca_white) | 1028 comments I don't know if pink in itself is the culprit, but I do think little girls are encouraged to live in a fairy tale world to greater or lesser extent, and I do think these things encourage the playing out of gender differences in ways that are harmful to males and females, pushing them into behaving certain ways. Again, to greater or lesser extent, depending on how much programming you're getting.

I also think about all these little girls brought up to think of themselves as princesses -- just how much coddling are they going to expect as adults? I shudder to think of the day when princesses are running the world.


message 3: by Hanna (new)

Hanna (ohanners) | 201 comments I heard the talk on the npr podcast the other day...the book sounds way too over the top.

In her interview she said since kids at an early age don't know what really differentiates a boy from a girl so girls want to assert their gender and the whole pink-and-fluffy exterior helps them do just that.

I think that's nonsense. All I wanted as a kid was good quality time with my parents, yummy food and avoid the icky, and to never be bored. I didn't care if my pajamas were pink or green or if my pancakes were pirate pancakes or princess pancakes.

I think it's the parents that push these gender stereotypes on the children and kids are influenced by it.


message 4: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca White (rebecca_white) | 1028 comments I do think it originally comes from parents, but the kids, as a rule, sure do love it, and then you get the peer pressure thing.


message 5: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments i don't know one way or the other really. when my daughter was little there were a few pink frilly things when she was a baby but not so much after that it seemed. no pink john deere stuff or pink baseball equipment. my only complaint would be the shorty shorts that say PINK across the butt for young girls. if they don't want boys to look at their butt and think of them in sexual ways why would they exploit that?


message 6: by ms.petra (new)

ms.petra (mspetra) I don't think it matters too much in the end. kids will eventually assert themselves in most cases. how many goth girls were princesses just a few years earlier? I tried to do the opposite and make my girl a tomboy and she is now a queen of fashion, shoes, and such.


message 7: by Brittomart (new)

Brittomart Hmm. Well, around Christmastime, I was looking for a book for Liyah. I saw two interactive "potty time" books. One was Disney-princess themed, and the other was Elmo. Liyah loves Elmo, so I picked up that one, but then I realized that this one was kinda geared towards boys, and the other one was for girls. Elmo had lots of cool shit with his book. I saw a Dora coloring book, and I didn't get either, but I just thought that was weird.

Oh! And like, when you get Happy Meals from McDonalds, they ask you "for a girl or for a boy?" That always pisses me off!


message 8: by Heidi (last edited Feb 08, 2011 08:25AM) (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments I LOVE pink! The pale pink, though... I'm not much of a fan of the magenta or hot pink variety.

My friend wore a pale pink dress shirt to his medical boards because he heard it's supposed to be a comforting color.



I'd have to agree on that point. I've read that in all the lit about how colors affect mood.




message 9: by Heather (last edited Feb 08, 2011 08:15AM) (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) | 384 comments I adore pink too!

Frankly, I think the book is over the top. Women and men are different, no matter how you slice it, we're different. I don't think any harm comes from accepting that difference. What I think is harmful is when others buy into the concept that different means inferior or superior. The author of that article's line of thinking is skewed. Why does playing with pink toys have to be blamed as the culprit for what divides her? That’s crap. What divides her is her physical, chemical makeup, not her preference in toys or their color. Why can't women just embrace their womanhood? I work with men, but you don't see me coming in to work in pants suits, ties and loafers. I wear skirts, heels, and carrry a pink purse to work. That's how I roll. It doesn't make me less, anymore than their preferences make them more.


message 10: by Lyzzibug ~Still Breathing~ (last edited Feb 08, 2011 08:18AM) (new)

Lyzzibug ~Still Breathing~ (lyzzibug) | 708 comments I think kids will be kids. My brother and I would get together and play Ninja Turtles and Barbies. I even have a picture of him playing with my Barbies when I wasn't.

That's not to say that society doesn’t tend to push them in a certain direction. While shopping for my son before he was born I noticed the abundance of pink pretty clothes in all kinds of styles. The section for girls was twice the size of the boys. It annoyed me to no end. Now when going down the isles of toys you can tell the boys and girls sections apart by the abundance again of pink.


message 11: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) | 384 comments Sure, most of young girls toys are pink but that is because companies appeal to the masses. Like it or not, a majority of females like various shades of the color pink. That's not to say all women like the color, but most do and people buy what they like. Just like most men would say their favorite color is blue. Its the most common, therefore the most produced.


message 12: by Lori (new)

Lori Barb wrote: "This is not always the case. Sometimes, but not always.
My daughter was always provided toys of all kinds (dolls AND dinky cars), and lots of colors to choose from. Turns out she's just a girly-girl, and she came to that all on her own."


And I got Jake a nice doll when he was baby. He used it as a bashing machine. And at 9 months was pointing bananas like a gun. This is a baby who was only exposed to PBS young kiddie shows. He sure did love his kitchen tho!

Starting in my teens I stayed away from pink due to all the reasons listed above. But when I hit 40, I suddenly realized I loved pink, and it looked good on me! It felt wonderful to embrace my pinkness.

Until I had a kid, I was sure everything was nurture. Now I think there's nature in there too.

But I read a story yesterday that Disney is now visiting moms of newborns who just gave birth and giving them a free onesie. They're boasting about what a great marketing ploy this is, and specifically cited getting in on the market immediately for all their future princesses. UGH.


message 13: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17333 comments Mod
I don't even like the idea of this topic.

No. The color I dress my girl in is not bad. In any way.


message 14: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17333 comments Mod
Overkill, false alarm. Mountain out of molehill.


message 15: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17333 comments Mod
I concur with Barb. Absolutely.


message 16: by Brittomart (new)

Brittomart Why is pink the feminine color?


message 17: by Mary (new)

Mary (madamefifi) Heather wrote: "I adore pink too!

Frankly, I think the book is over the top. Women and men are different, no matter how you slice it, we're different. I don't think any harm comes from accepting that difference. What I think is harmful is when others buy into the concept that different means inferior or superior. The author of that article's line of thinking is skewed. Why does playing with pink toys have to be blamed as the culprit for what divides her? That’s crap. What divides her is her physical, chemical makeup, not her preference in toys or their color. Why can't women just embrace their womanhood? I work with men, but you don't see me coming in to work in pants suits, ties and loafers. I wear skirts, heels, and carrry a pink purse to work. That's how I roll. It doesn't make me less, anymore than their preferences make them more."


This, exactly. And while we're on the topic, I personally think that such "reality" shows as Bridezilla, Bad Girls Club, My SuperSweet 16, etc., are much more harmful and degrading to girls than dressing them in pink and giving them dollbabiess to play with.


message 18: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17333 comments Mod
I've heard that blue was once the "girl color"but that changed.


Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments I don't know. Some girls love pink and embrace it and princessness, and I'm sure they're fine.
There's always been pressure for girls to be pretty, I don't see this as anything new, or worse, as much as I hate the Disney marketing machine.

Personally, I rejected pink early on, and all that went with it. I was not whatever that represented, I was serious, I liked to read. I was no one's princess.
My favorite color was blue, then green. And now, it's aqua.


message 20: by Heidi (last edited Feb 08, 2011 12:08PM) (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Found online:

In gender -

* In Western culture, the practice of assigning pink to an individual gender began in the 1920s or earlier. From then until the 1940s, pink was considered appropriate for boys because being related to red it was the more masculine and decided color, while blue was considered appropriate for girls because it was the more delicate and dainty color, or related to the Virgin Mary. Since the 1940s, the societal norm was inverted; pink became considered appropriate for girls and blue appropriate for boys, a practice that has continued into the 21st century.

* Though the color pink has sometimes been associated with negative gender stereotypes, some feminists have sought to 'reclaim' it. For example, the Swedish radical feminist party Feminist Initiative and the American activist women's group Code Pink: Women for Peace use pink as their color.

* The pink ribbon is the international symbol of breast cancer awareness. Pink was chosen partially because it is so strongly associated with femininity.

* It has been suggested that females prefer pink because of a preference for reddish things like ripe fruits and healthy faces, but the associated study has been criticized as "bad science".

* The phrase "pink-collar worker" refers, in the West, to persons working in fields or jobs conventionally regarded as "women's work".

In sexuality -

* Whereas Jewish people were forced to wear a yellow star of David under Nazi rule, and Roma people were forced to wear a black triangle, men imprisoned on accusations of homosexuality or same-sex sexual activity were forced to wear a pink triangle. Nowadays, a pink triangle (sometimes pointing up, contrary to Nazi usage) is often worn with pride.

* A Dutch newsgroup about homosexuality is called nl.roze (roze being the Dutch word for pink), while in Britain, Pink News is a leading gay newspaper and online news service. There is a magazine called Pink for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community which has different editions for various metropolitan areas. In France Pink TV is an LGBT cable channel.

* In business, the pink pound or pink dollar refers to the spending power of the LGBT community.Advertising agencies sometimes call the gay market the pink economy.

* Though long discontinued, the now mainstream gay-oriented magazine The Advocate for many years of its early history featured a sometimes sizable section of personal ads and mostly sexually-oriented ads printed on pink paper and referred to as "the pink pages." As the gay rights movement gained increased mainstream momentum and public acceptance, and as the magazine itself became less underground and was distributed more widely on newsstands in "middle America," the publishers made the section more easily removable for those who preferred not to view/keep it with the main body of the magazine, and The Advocate eventually ceased to include the "pink pages" at all.

* In Japan the color cherry blossom pink is associated with the vagina, and therefore, in Japan, softcore pornographic films are called pink movies.


message 21: by Heidi (last edited Feb 08, 2011 12:09PM) (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments It irks me that they put the periods outside the quotation marks.


message 22: by Janice (new)

Janice (jamasc) It's not that I rejected pink, I don't care for the colour unless it's hot pink.


message 23: by Lori (new)

Lori Heidi, thanks for that info, so so interesting the reversal of gender colors! And come to think of it, in paintings before then girls were usually in blue, even Mary was usually in blue. But I didn't know pink was for boys, altho come to think of it lots of fashions for men did have pink. I think men look great in pink.

As for the periods inside quote marks, I swear I was taught to do it that way. I even used to proofread and that was a rule. Don't have time now, but I'm going to research that to see it the rule changed, or if I'm completely full of wrong info!

Janice, I'm not a pastel girl myself either, pretty much in any color, jewel tones are my thing.


message 24: by Mary (new)

Mary (madamefifi) Jackie "the Librarian" wrote: "Personally, I rejected pink early on, and all that went with it. I was not whatever that represented, I was serious, I liked to read. I was no one's princess."

So...what are you saying, that girls/women who like pink aren't "serious"? The color pink doesn't have to "represent" anything, but if people continue to interpret it as meaning "frivolous, girly, princess who isn't serious and doesn't like to read" then that's just continuing the harmful stereotype. I'll wear pink if I want to and if others think I'm "representing" some stupid stereotype then fuck 'em.


Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments You may not like stereotypes, but there's usually some basis for them. I was picking up on that as a girl, Mary.

And, I just don't like pink. I say, if you like pink, wear it! Be serious, be frivolous, be you, whoever you are. Transcend that stereotype. :)


message 26: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) | 384 comments Amen Mary!

Why are disney princesses getting a bad rap? Belle read books, was thought of as intelligent, had it not been for her, the beast would never have returned to his manly state, she saved his kingdom. Notice that was a female doing the rescuing. Same with the little mermaid, she saved prince eric along with her little fishy friends. I'm out of princesses at the moment, but why is it that them being pretty is the only thing anyone talks about? They were pretty kick a$$ too, imo, and not because they were pretty. I wanted to be the little mermaid because she sang well. That would have been true if she had been average looking. I swear, women are women's worst enemy, not men. We are so hellbent on judging each others choices that we can't respect the fact that now we actually have choices to make. Good lord, it makes me crazy.


message 27: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) | 384 comments The use of the word frivoulous associated with gender is making my eye twitch. I've seen it in a couple of posts. Men are frivoulous too, we just don't call it that. If women spend $160 bucks on getting their hair done, they are being frivoulous, but what about a man that spends $160 on a nine iron, or whatever it's called? I think that is frivoulous. Men will spend $400 on an xbox, I'll spend $400 on a Coach bag. We are all frivoulous, both men and women, it has nothing to do with liking the color pink or with being female.


message 28: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17333 comments Mod
Heidi wrote: "It irks me that they put the periods outside the quotation marks."

They do it both ways in that article.

Sweeter is a copy editor by trade and I told him about my passion for "always in" and he says without hesitation "not always" but also can't cite a rule. So I've learned to let it go.


message 29: by Mary (new)

Mary (madamefifi) Jackie "the Librarian" wrote: "You may not like stereotypes, but there's usually some basis for them."

That doesn't make them OK.


Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments Transcend! :)
And I'm going to wear lots and lots of aqua, because I like it.


Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments Bun, I'm with you in feeling troubled about the emphasis on girls looking sexy to get approval. As you say, just the fact that they are looking for outward approval, instead of being self-motivated, is a concern.
It's not easy being a girl in this culture.


message 32: by Heather (last edited Feb 08, 2011 01:23PM) (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) | 384 comments Barb wrote: "BunWat wrote: "I think we as women are socialized too much to look at ourselves from outside and worry about what other people think of us and how we look and about whether other people like us or ..."

But aren't men just as guilty of this? Men like to be thought of as attractive, just as women do. Men work on their outward appearance, it isn't just a woman's desire. Everyone wants to feel attractive, male or female.


message 33: by Heidi (last edited Feb 08, 2011 02:15PM) (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Lately, I'm more of a taupe kind of gal, myself.

As a child I was definitely a purple girl... and then I went through my orange phase... I even picked my favorite Baskin Robbins flavors to match my favorite colors (grape ice and orange sherbet when they didn't have grape ice)... and then peach... and as an adult, it was claret red... and white... and now turquoise. And also taupe. :)

Pink's not my favorite, but I do like it.


message 34: by Heather (last edited Feb 08, 2011 02:45PM) (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) | 384 comments Women hold themselves to that impossible standard. I saw a poll, can't remember where, where women got to pick their top 10 most beautiful females and men got to pick the top 10 most beautiful females. Sarah Jessica Parker was on the top of the women's list, Jessica Alba was on the men's. Now tell me, of those two, who looks like they eat the most, and is the most healthy representation, Jessica Alba or SJP? Women buy into the super thin standard, more so then men. Women could set the standard, we just don't. Instead, we prefer to blame everyone but our own gender for our lack of empowerment. Do men oogle impossibly hot women, sure. But I also drool over Channing Tatum (even though he looks like a meat head). That doesn't mean I expect men to look like they live in a gym in order to be considered attractive. So why do women assume that just because men find models attractive, that they won't find an ordinary woman attractive as well? That's just a lack of security and a need of validation, imo and has nothing to do with impossible standards placed upon us by men and has everything to do with impossible standards we place upon ourselves.


message 35: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Barb wrote: "Yes, everyone does want to feel attractive. The difference is that men aren't judged as much on their appearance as women are. We're held to a different standard."

This is true. We're held to a different standard not just by men, though. I think women are the harshest critics of other women in most cases.


message 36: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Heather wrote: "Women hold themselves to that impossible standard. I saw a poll, can't remember where, where women got to pick their top 10 most beautiful females and men got to pick the top 10 most beautiful fema..."

And how much of that, do you think, is wanting to be accepted by other women as a peer? Because I'm willing to bet there's more of this going on than vying for acceptance of other men.


Stacia (the 2010 club) (stacia_r) Maybe I think more like a man because I find Jessica Alba far more attractive than Sarah Jessica Parker.

But then again, maybe not so much like a guy because I'm going off how their faces look. I'm a face person though, so someone can be a little too thin or a little too heavy and I will ignore that and look at their face.


message 38: by Lobstergirl, el principe (new)

Lobstergirl | 24258 comments Mod
Ages 5-7 are severe gender identification years for children, more so than before or after. They have an enormous need to identify as girl or boy, and there is strong peer reinforcement, so that boys who want to play with dolls are told by their peers that they need to play with boy-appropriate toys, and vice versa.

(Anyway, so I'm told. I don't remember this, myself. I didn't like pink any more than any other color, and I wanted to play with Legos and Matchbox cars and Lincoln Logs at least as much if not more than dolls.)

Companies like Disney discovered this about little girls - the pink, the fairy/princess thing, and exploited the shit out of it. (This is part of Orenstein's book.) So the stores are full of pink princessy ballerina products. If they weren't, girls would wear other colors and styles of clothing. Companies like American Girl are exploiting the hell out of the whole doll thing.

If you want a better book on gender, I suggest
Delusions of Gender.


message 39: by janine (new)

janine | 7715 comments all i know is i wore pink (it was my favorite colour for a while, alongside purple) and had pink dresses too, but also liked to play with lego and was a ruthless killer (of ugly lego people).


message 40: by Lori (new)

Lori In answer to Bun's post way back, in reply to mine recalling Jake beating the hell out of his doll and using a banana as a gun all before 9 months old without watching any TV, while I do agree the cultural standards are insidious, I also am still convinced there is some truth to the stereotypes being in our cells. Sure, he might have seen activity at the playground in the sandbox, but I don't think at that age babies even know much difference between girls and boys. I can't even tell sometimes just by looking at lots of babies. So out of all the activities he observed, if he chooses the rough and tumble, pound on the ground play, well to me that says it's something innate in him.

As for me I was the tomboy dressed in reds and pinks. :D

BTW here's that article on Disney marketing to the fresh out of hatch baby mommas. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Disney-...


message 41: by Lori (last edited Feb 08, 2011 05:15PM) (new)

Lori That's why I love how Helena Bonham Carter dresses. She's clearly have fun and doing it all from inside.

I agree, Bun, but as I get older the opposite has happened and I sometimes have to stop myself - you're going out in THAT??? Ya know, like shopping after I've traipsed thru the mud in my sweats with the dawg. I do go shopping, but I've developed such disregard I'm afraid when I'm in my 70s I'll be going in my bathrobe and slippers!


message 42: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Without my having mentioned this discussion, one of the gals in my bookclub picked this book tonight for our group to read for the March meeting. Bizarro. :) I can't wait for the discussion!


message 43: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments This has been one of the most fascinating conversations ever. Thanks, ladies.


message 44: by Heather (new)

Heather (heatherjoy) | 384 comments I think we are our own reality. If a woman believes that the only thing that matters to the outside world is whether or not she is pretty, that's her issue, not the issue of all womankind.


message 45: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments At the very least, you all have given me excellent discussion questions for book club next month with all these excellent posts. Love it!


message 46: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Knarik wrote: "All girls want to be princesses and wear dresses and make-up, and boys want to play with cars, it is normal!!! "

Hi, Knarik! Good to see you. Are you stating that last line as fact? Cause I have to disagree with that one big time, but I'm not entirely sure I understand what you're saying in the last couple of sentences.


message 47: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments When I was a girl, I liked to play with my Fischer-Price garage and bugs and jump on the trampoline and eat my friends at Operation and watch You Can't Do That On Television and swim and ride my bike and roller skate and do endless research in the encyclopedias. I'm with you Sarah Pi... I don't agree with that last statement as an absolute. I loved playing four square and soccer with my friends and their brothers. I loved helping my friend's dad on his carpentry projects and learning how to build things. We had endless hula hoop contests and hours in the kitchen with cooking experiments. I was bored with Barbie when my friends would pull them out to play. I'd beg them to play Uno instead. I despised that Barbie's hair would get knotty and I couldn't wash it. I'd rather play with a real person's hair. And I didn't want to be a princess. I dreamed of being queen or president. I dreamed of being a movie star or a nun. Just being candid...


message 48: by Sarah (last edited Feb 09, 2011 09:29AM) (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments The only gifts I ever wanted were Breyer model horses and books. The only thing I ever asked my parents for before the age of thirteen was riding lessons and Breyer models. After thirteen, it was amps and guitars and a four track so I could record. No princess, no dresses, no makeup, no cars.


message 49: by Heidi (new)

Heidi (heidihooo) | 10825 comments Damnit. My phone won't allow me to edit my post. Beat, not eat my friends... and on and on...


message 50: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 13815 comments Hee. Now that you mention it, I liked to beat my friends. At games, but also just in general.


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