If you have kids in your life and did any sort of holiday shopping for them you probably had no difficulty locating the “girl” things – all you had to do was look for the pink aisle. Using only peripheral vision the girl and boy toys and decor are so well defined as to summon the question: why does the world of girls have to be saturated with pink?
The baby and toddler toys appear to be unilaterally multicolored and the girl and boy toys aren’t very well distinguished from one another. Yet skip ahead to age 3 or 4 and you’ll be hard pressed to find the unisex toys. Sadly, as parents or grandparents (or aunts or uncles) we tend to support this distinction as we are merely aiming to please the child. But could we inadvertently be harming them?
A recent article in the Guardian featured an interview with PinkStinks , a group founded by two sisters (one has two boys, the other two girls) who see this pinkification as a harmful social commentary on how our shopping choices for girls are severely limited in color; when we limit their choices we limit their thinking. We give girls a small world to belong to, a world consisting of princesses, fairies and butterflies. They believe that a world of pink devalues what girls may really want which is choices. Even the non-princess activities are turning pink: globes, clocks, books…all of which, again, create a small visual world for girls.
Pink was not always so pervasive in a little girl’s room. In a 1918 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal a writer offers this advice to new mothers. "There has been a great diversity of debate on the subject but 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 colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." Pink was traditionally used for little boys as pink is derived from red, which is a strong and powerful color. Light blue, reflective of the color of the clothing worn by The Virgin Mary in paintings, was left for little girls. It wasn’t until post WWII that the color choices for girls and boys were reversed.
The backlash against PinkStinks has been tremendous and the group has obviously hit upon a nerve. So, dear readers, when it comes to designing and decorating your children’s room, how do you make your color choices? Do you use traditional gender colors? Do you use your child’s favorite colors? What would you do if your girl wanted a blue and green bedroom? Or if your boy wanted an orange and pink room. Would you care? How have your traditional thoughts about color affected your design decisions?
Image Credit: Army.Arch