Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pink Can Be For Boys Too. Sometimes. Just Like Blue Can Be For Girls.

I find these pictures that I found on designboom fascinating but kind of oddly depressing. The story behind the pics, to quote designboom:

Korean artist Jeongmee Yoon's 'pink and blue project' was inspired by her daughter. She would only wear pink and buy pink toys. She found this to be a common theme in Korea, the US and around the world. When photographing girl's [sic] in their world of pink, she realized that boys shared the same phenomenon except in a different hue: blue. The objects are arranged in the child's room and photographed in a square format. Jeongmee Yoon was born in Seoul and lives in New York.

Wow, first off these kids have a lot of stuff. I find the pink is for girls and blue is for boys thing a bit dispiriting and sad. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, I know all kids like to try and discover gender and sexuality issues by modelling based on stereotypes. But wow, this is like beyond a simple preference for a colour don't you think? It just seems so... rigid. So deeply enmeshed in a societal gender role.

It kind of makes me want to go in and take a few things from the girl's room and a few thing's from the boy's room and play switcheroo. Maybe show that there's fun to be had in accessorising that Superman outfit with a pink tiara and some clip on earrings. Or that Barbie would have lots more fun if she occasionally broke out and wrapped herself up in a superhero cape.

12 comments: said...

My mother took this to an extreme. Until I was 18 and left home, I'd very rarely worn anything that wasn't blue - white school uniform shirts were about the only exception, but that was only the dress uniform - mostly I wore the blue sports uniform.

She wouldn't even hang boys clothes on the line with pink pegs, or girls with blue pegs.

For a long time, I was completely unable to feel comfortable in anything but blue - and even now, about 80% of my wardrobe is blue.

Kyle Kunnecke said...

I absolutely agree with you... color identity as a child is not something instinctual; rather it's thrust upon us and a characteristic that we somehow grow to associate with reward from society.... girls should be pretty and pink and fluffy and boys should be blue and rough and tumble and muddy - while I do think that identity and color has meaning and significance, I think that the interpretation that I make of these photographs is totally different from the intention of the artist; I see it as total opression - being an American, viewing children in Korea further "trained" in their views of conforming.... it's definately interesting though... thanks for showing us :)

Emily said...

Isn't it different from when we were kids? remember everything coming in red and blue, and those weren't particularly gendered.
Interestingly, I gather that until the early 20th century red was seen as the masculine colour (and pink would have been associated with that) and blue with femininity - check out all those older disney princesses in their blue dresses. (I think it might have related to the whole virgin mary=blue thing).

I, too, find this rather depressing.

The Other Andrew said...

It's interesting stuff to consider, isn't it? Emily, you make a good point about history, just look at Victorian photos of small children and the boys are in dresses even. Except for maybe a sailor hat on their ringletted head, it's hard to tell the girls and boys apart.

I have two friends who are very much not the type to gender stereotype their kids, but their daughter has developed a fascination with pink just lately. Not to this extent, but still they kind of look on with a small degree of alarm! :)

Mousicles said...

From what I understand, when I child learns about gender (I think about 4), they become obsessed with fitting the stereotype. So if society says that is a colour then they insist on the correct colour for their gender.

I would like to think that I won't push any gender roles but I think perhaps I'm going to unconsciously transfer something to my child.

I'd like to think that the fact that he is obsessed by balls and wheeled objects is entirely his choice so far.

The Other Andrew said...

...and then at age 4 he'll discover tie dye, eh mouse?!

Lara said...

Eeek! Where is the purple? Where is the orange?

Where is the lime green and the glitter?

What a drab awful world it would be if these were our only colour choices...

Inigo will probably react against my colour choices for him when he is older, and insist on only wearing beige, but for now, I can dress him in all the colours of the rainbow :)

Mindy said...

Red was the colour of courage and pink seen as the minor of red so boys wore pink. Blue was associated with the VMary as Emily says and so was for girls. I think it started to change after one of the World wars, not sure which one.
Interestingly a lot of Aboriginal mothers in the NT don't differentiate between pink and blue for boys and girls. Many well meaning care workers have complimented a lovely baby girl dressed in pink that turned out to be a boy.

yani said...

Interestingly if you look at the stuff in the little boy's room, there's actually less blue in there than you initially think... partly because he seems to have a thing about Superman, so that automatically introduced a lot of red and some yellow... and there also seems to be a bit of black amongst this things.

As for the little girl's room, that's totally pushed to extreme, but have you actually looked at the products available for and aimed at little girls these days? I would say that about 80% of it is pink... especially when it comes to toys... so it's not like little girls have that much of a choice. Just looking at the brands she has in her room, Barbie, Hello Kitty, Strawberry Shortcake, even Dora the Explorer (or Dora the Crackwhorer as I liked to call her) are based around pink.

Plus, you can raise you kids to be colour neutral or diverse or whatever... but as soon as they start school the peer pressure machine kicks in and suddenly it's all consumer products and gender stereotypes and whatnot.

I'm with Emily though... I don't remember it being THAT much different when I was a kid... I know my wardrobe wasn't exclusively blue, but I know I had a bunch of stuff that was, at least until I was old enough to make my own colour choices.

Mousicles said...

yani. You have a point about products aimed at boys or girls.

So much in the shops has some sort of merchanising on it or gender colour coding. No wonder kids get hung up on colours and certain brands when they are bombarded by these ideas. Trying to shop for plain colours (tie-dye material :)) is quite hard.

I love all sorts of bright colours on my boy. He is often mistaken for a girl... probably because he has lovely ringlets.

Riayn said...

I just can't get over how much crap these kids have.
I think I would go crazy in either of those kids' rooms. Just way too much of the one colour for my liking.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone paint their boys room pink. Our 8yr old wants a pink room. Trying to think of ways to get the pink in with another color.