Does Pink Really Make You Powerless as a Woman?

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From The Daily Mail 
Parents have a duty to boycott shops that sell ‘sexist’ pink toys and clothes for girls, according to a pressure group backed by a Labor minister.

The ‘Pinkstinks’ campaign, founded by twins Emma and Abi Moore, says young girls are being led up ‘pink alleys’ by companies that target them with products such as princess’ dresses and pink fairy wings.

The pressure group – which has almost 3,000 supporters on the social networking site Facebook – also claims the ‘media’s obsession with stick-thin models, footballers’ wives, and overtly-sexualised pop stars is denying girls their right to aspire to and learn from real role models’.

The campaign ‘aims to redress the balance by providing girls with positive female role models – chosen because of their achievements, skills, accomplishments and successes’.

The group has recently singled out the Early Learning Centre as one of the worst offenders on the high street when it comes to the ‘pinkification’ of girls’ toys.

Pinkstinks argues that, while toys for boys encompass ‘every avenue imaginable – construction, science, adventure, role play, physical and educational’, in the ELC’s ‘pink alleys’, the choices for girls are ‘much more limited – and limiting’.

The campaign has recently secured the backing of Bridget Prentice, the justice minister.

She told The Daily Mail: ‘It’s about not funnelling girls into pretty, but giving them aspirations and challenging them to fulfil their potential.

So what do you think? Is the colour pink making your daughters weaker or passive?

Here is an interesting historical perspective on the colour becoming feminised

My daughter is only 4, and yes she loves pink, but she also loves red, and green and other colours.  Today she has chosen to wear purple from head to toe.    I don’t think passiveness comes from a colour, but from the way, girls are brought up.   

I also feel that if she gets her pink ‘fill’ now as a child, as an adult she won’t necessarily feel so drawn to it as it will be a colour of childhood, a phase that has passed in her life.  She doesn’t just want to play with pink toys, she also likes trains, cars and all sorts of other toys.

What do you think?  What are your experiences?

Little update2017 – my daughter now 12 thinks pink is an OK colour, but loves aqua blue and purple.  She is strong and fit, does lots of gymnastics and prides herself on being a bit of a tomboy.  Pink certainly didn’t make her powerless as she’s not backwards in letting her thoughts and feelings be known.

Does wearing pink make girls weak?

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28 Comments

  • I think it's ridiculous to campaign for a shop to stop selling pink things for girls. No one is twisting my arm to buy that stuff. If I don't like pink for my daughter, I can buy red or blue. If I don't like princess stuff, I can buy her building sets. The reason stores like that are popular is because many little girls really do love that kind of thing.

    I think where we run into trouble is when well-meaning adults insist that girls can only have pink, because that's what girls should have. Let girls love pink, and princesses, and whatnot. And then let them move on and be interested in other things when they change their minds.

    What I'm really getting tired of is the push here in the US to get MEN to wear pink, in the guise of supporting breast cancer research. Just weird.

    No one should be FORCED to like pink– or to DISlike it.

    (barely related anecdote: my daughter, when she was little, had pink and lavender Legos, while her brother had "normal" Legos– but only so we could tell them apart, and the brother couldn't "accidentally" claim them as his own!)

  • My daughter is almost 2 and she easily chooses pink clothes either for her, me or her father.
    I don't go against that ,in fact I buy pink clothes and shoes if she so wishes and if they are warm.
    However, I try to give her as much diversity as I can in terms of the toys she plays with and try to use my good sense.
    It is not the pink that make women powerless, is what is inside of them that can eventually do that.
    (PS: Your daughter is so beautiful 🙂 )

  • My 3 1/2 year old daughter loves pink. It's her favorite color despite my refusal to buy her anything pink that was offered in any other color. She also loves to work on the bikes and the car with my husband. Pink is just a color. My husband wears pink my dad has worn pink so it isn't just for females. Men used to wear pink all the time and boys clothes used to be frequently pink when boys wore dresses until they were breeched. If parents aren't teaching their girls that they don't have to be a princess fairy or ballerina and that they can only use and enjoy things that are pink then there is a problem with the parents not the color or the media. There are a lot of moms who tell their girls that tools and dirt aren't lady like which is much more of a problem then pink. The poor boys are left with not being able to wear skirts or play with dolls. Is there also a Booblue for the companies for limiting boys and directing them away from child care, the arts, and culinary careers? Men can't wear skirts and dresses without attracting attention and women can wear whatever they want. If I had a son I'd be much more worried about him. I don't know why people want to give that kind of power to a color. If my daughter wants to work on her dad's bike while wearing a pink tutu I don't want people telling her that's wrong because pink is evil and will make her weak.

  • Honestly, who cares! Pink is actually a beautiful colour that makes most people look rosy and healthy. Of course, M is so addicted to it I'm positively sick of most shades – but I'm sure I'll return to my love of pink as she gets into black 🙂

  • I think people are worried about gender roles becoming more rigid, especially for children, as a consequence of marketers playing upon children's strong urges to define themselves as part of a group.

    Rigid gender roles are limiting for both genders. If a man wants to wear pink, to support cancer research or just because he likes pink, is he "less of a man" or "weird"?
    Do you see how even adults voice attitudes that police gender boundaries?

    It's not pink, per se, that is the problem. It's that it's becoming a very visible symptom of socially-enforced gender boundaries, and often those boundaries define femininity as "the other" (if you get what I mean). "Normal" lego vs "girls" lego.

    I still see adult women talking about how they are a "girly girl" or whatever because they have time-consuming beauty routines, etc. If I don't have such a routine, that implies that I am "not really girly" or somehow unfeminine and outside of some category that I'm meant to be in. I'm feminine, it's just that there are some very limited views of what "being feminine" is. And the same for masculinity, too.

    The Guardian has an interview with the two women who started it (http://tinyurl.com/yequyrv).

    I think this story is getting a lot of play because it allows us to laugh at the "humourless feminazis" and feel better about being in our box and making sure other people stay in theirs.
    Humans like categories, and don't like having to question their assumptions.

    Great post, btw, Imogen. And great comments, too.

  • hmmm.. not so sure about this Imogen. My daughter is 4 and is the epitome of the the pink cliche..loving sparkly, fluffy, pinky things. Its what she is drawn to. My son is drawn to Star Wars and volcano stuff. They hear what the other is into. Santa will (I hear) indulge both their present interests. No, I dont thing she will become a passive, slef-effacing lady as a result (NOTHING passive or self effacing here!) That said, it is my duty as a parent to ensure she has a balanced diet- fibre, protein, 5-a-day etc with occasional treats that she chooses. Surely the same applies to what interests she has- I provide science, literature, active and fantasy play and she chooses some pink stuff. ALL things in moderation. Maureen

  • Toyally agree with LB.
    It's not about pink per se, but about what it represents.
    Little girls like pink princess fluffy stuff because they have learned to like it since they're born. The parents and the rest of society start guiding them to their roles since the were babys: pink for girls and blue for boys. It's not genetic. It's family, tv, friends, toys, books… all with the same message.
    And every body wants to be accepted. That's the trick.
    What about all that girls that want to be like Barbie? She's the queen of pink and princess.

    By the way, gender roles are prisions for both, boys and girls, men and women.
    And even if is hard, only we can change it if we open our eyes.
    Sorry for my english 🙂

  • That is the MOST idiotic thing I have ever heard! Utterly ridiculous. I am such a pink girl however I am FAR from passive! I have 2 girls one is a pink girl and the other is not. In saying that they love yellow, purple and blue. Crazy, crazy stuff 🙂 As if a color defines who we are really!

  • I think that there are undoubtably too many toys centered around pink princesses/divas/fairies but I also think that banning pink cannot solve the problem. Pink, by itself, is not a bad color. It's the context, the idea that pink makes you prettier, or better, or more feminine, that is worrisome.
    When I was young, my favorite "toys" were three sheets of satiny fabric in pink, yellow, and blue, that I used for dress up. I could make togas and cloaks, ballgowns and evening dresses from them. While I prefered the pink, it didn't make much difference which fabric I wore. In this context, why shouldn't I have had pink?
    It's only when pink becomes exclusively associated with tiaras and frills and makeup that pink becomes a problem.

  • The problem is using pink to label some stuff as "for girls".

    This gives small children the idea that if you are a girl you can only use or do "girl things", and if you are a boy you should not use or do "girl things".

    The issue is the labelling. Labelling is limiting, for boys and girls.
    Some people are worried that the labelling (of toys, etc) is becoming much more pervasive than it once was, and that young children are being marketed to in ways that we might not want.

    I don't see how I can explain it more simply than that.

  • I think pink is great. I don't think glamorising skinny models and provocative popstars can be a good thing for anyone. What are boys thinking? How can real girls compete? And this has nothing to do with pink.
    My experience with girls (I have 2 and they are now 18 and 16) is that they know what they like at a very young age and don't change that much. My eldest loved colourful clothes and not pretty girly things. She still has that edgy vibe. The youngest is very girly. She played "families" with anything she could find – Barbies, Bratz dolls and even the little lego people. She still plays families but now it is on the computer with Sims3 – mums, dads, babies, homes etc. So my girly girl has a pink bedroom (her choice) and still manages to come in the top 4 of her year level at school.
    But what I really hate is when she says she is not pretty because…she has pimples…her legs are too short…clothes don't look good on her..etc, etc. What can you do when no matter how much you tell her she is gorgeous she can't measure up to the unreal expectations the media inflict on us all.

  • As Paula says, I think LB is on the right track here – it isn't a question of pink as such, but what all the cheap and nasty frippery for girls that goes with it, and what that represents.

    I don't have children, but my observation of the behaviour of my friends who are parents is that children are socialised incredibly early and that "choice" is not real choice even at the age of four or so – it's what they see other little girls having. It's all marketing and very early peer pressure.

  • I like LB's track of thought.

    Personally I've always avoided pink (I think so did my mom) as "too girly"! I'll wear deep shades of pink, and am OK with pastel shades too (on others), but the bright kind is too Barbie/bubblegum.

    Just yesterday I was looking at a girl walking to school dressed in mostly pink; I thought it was weird … she's maybe 8-9.

  • My daughter loves pink and all things frilly/girly. Her current career path? Ballerina-scientist (specializing in dinosaurs), with the technology she will have at her disposal it's not out of the question. I believe that people focus on these inane questions because they feel it is something within their grasp to solve, when the real problems are poverty, malnourishment, lack of attention, lack of mentoring, etc. These underlying societal problems are the real cause.

  • Very interesting topic. I love colour discussions. I grew up in the sixties with two younger sisters. My Mom was a very ceative person, she made most of my clothes and as a young child I often wore darkj blue, wich was uncommun and very beautiful on me. Mom was allergic to pink for girls clothes but would buy my dad pink shirts. We are all three girls red hair. I don't remember having missimg pink at all. I inheritated very young a strong reject for "girlish" things. We were raised in the country, in a sex equality filosophy. My sisters (twins)never wore the same colours ( another cliché). As I grew and became a painter (I use pink in my work, colours relate togeteher)pink became my satanic colour. I am unable to buy a bottle of shampoo that has some pink on it. What I am allergic too is the identification PINK=WOMAN and aslo PINK=BABY. I is related for me to an archaic world where Pink= powder scent: white fur, cheap, porcelain dolls on a shelf, little dog with a ribbon, white carpet, white bread sanwiches without crust…recently as I learned from Imogen about colour I discovered certain pinks were the missing pieces in my wardrobe palette . Love it.But not the chewing gum pink and also cheap clothes often come in pink. Live now in Buenos Aires where you can hardly find non pink little girls clothes. Tragic! Goes with Barbies and over sexualisation of little girls. This is also a country of false blond woman and plastic surgeries. I know little girls are attracted to pink but then the market combines it with sparkling, fluffy, soft textures, transparencies that makes it magic. For me it is a sad cultural construction of feminity.

  • My short answer is: No. I´d like to add that some pink looks great on some men too, and doesn´t make them powerless as men either.

  • I think it's nutty. My little girl loves lots of colors but with no pushing from us, her favorites are the "girly" colors. They're mine too because there is an inherent femininity to certain colors and I like that! There is also inherent STRENGTH in femininity! Something these women seem not to understand. There's also inherent masculinity to other colors. I'm against anything that androgonizes the world. Everyone can choose to wear whatever they want, trying to force "neutrality" is crazy.

  • I don't think it's a matter of trying to force androgyny. I think it's more of a mistake to force a kind of "one group or the other" mentality.

    Girls and women are not all the same, different girls and women want different things. Just like different boys and men want different things and are not all the same.

    And the comments here are encouraging, with parents recognising the different preferences and personalities of their various children. This is exactly what the website mentioned in the news story is talking about. You are in agreement!

    Another point I'm (personally) trying to make is that a girl who likes science and climbing trees is just as much a girl who likes ballerinas and fluffy dogs. And many girls like science AND sparkly things. And boys can like fluffy dogs too, and not be less of a boy. Saying something like "my daughter likes science AND girly things" is still reflecting a societal attitude that science is not a girls thing.

    But these attitudes are changing. And the pinkstinks website is an opportunity to have these discussions and think about how our views about gender are formed.

  • Duchesse, that's never a good argument, since you yourself (for example) are obviously spending your time commenting on clothing and style blogs instead of spending every free moment and dollar feeding the hungry or clothing the poor.

    It's possible to discuss one problem without diminishing another. It's not like there is some kind of suffering competition.

  • Raising girls to be strong women is about them having strong role models, not what colours they wear or play with … I second everything LB says.

  • LB, I don't need to spend time in order to contribute to good causes, it just takes a few clicks.

    A colour connotes powerlessness? Powerlessness comes from not having choices. I do boycott products and media that sexualize girls.

  • I have to agree with LB — while I wish a more wittily persuasive approach had been taken (a boycott just fosters entrenched notions about feminists), I've been dismayed at some toy departments where, recently, I've noticed the same kinds of boy/girl divisions that we tried to change back in the late 70s, early 80s when my four were young. It was a big deal to buy my 3-year old daughter the fire truck she wanted in 1979 — many friends and a few relatives reacted as if this were a subversive act. I think it's far too easy for younger women to imagine that the equality we seem to have approached (emphasis on "seem" and "approached") is an accomplishment that doesn't require some vigilance. Many of the opportunities you enjoy today arrived thanks to feminists willing to be ridiculed for their insistence on inclusive language and for dressing their little daughters in pants rather than frilly pink dresses.

    While I will happily buy pink for my granddaughter, I also think many of us fool ourselves in saying that's our girls' natural preference — Nature and culture are difficult to separate out, and study after study has shown that baby girls and baby boys are treated very differently in subtle ways from the day they're born.

    Having raised three strong young successful women and now watching one of those women raise my young granddaughter, I am sympathetic to this campaign's cause although I do think its tactics are sadly misguided.

  • I grew up with brothers. I had a lot hand me down clothes and toys. Having something pink, cute and just for girls was exciting. Through the years my mother tried to find the right balance. As an adult, I still enjoy baseball, billiards, Hello Kitty and fashion. I like Pink and I wear it all the time!

  • I loved pink when I was little. I played with dolls all the time, dresses them in the most pink and sparkly dresses I could find. My own clothes where of the same kind most of the time.

    I had a short period of a few years, when I was 11 – 14, when I avoided pink. It was a ‘girly’ colour and I, with my small frame and quiet nature, didn’t want to look weaker than I already was. But those bluegreen checked button-ups denim button-ups and dark jeans (aka something that’s ‘boyish’) didn’t feel like me, and sometimes I gave in still bought soft pink ruffled blouses.

    Now, I still really like pink. Particularly soft, warm pinks such as peach and coral and dusty rose and it’s by far the most common colour in my wardrobe. I even have a coral pink teddycoat (which I call ‘my fluffy’, as a 17-year old…), and I love it. Am I übergirly? Sure, I am. But it is what I like and no one can do anything about it.

  • I was born in a communist country and came to Australia when I was 12. I can still remember what it was like living there, so I can recognise brainwashing techniques in a flash. If a civil rights movement becomes extremist (intolerant of other points of view) or worse, ideological (like a religion) that’s where we should be worried. Banning pink for girls is way over the top, highly unreasonable and frankly it damages the arguments of the group that advocates this. Another worry is how different militant groups appropriate images of fauna or flora as their own symbols. I used to love wearing butterfly prints/accessories, just like Imogen’s, but now since the butterfly is the symbol of a particularly militant movement, sadly I have to give it a miss…

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