Yerim and Her Pink Things, 2005
The images above and below are just a few from JeongSee Yoon’s Pink And Blue Project, an ongoing set of images dealing with gender, consumerism, and globalization. Dozens of surreal, hyperdetailed images of mostly Asian boys and girls with their blue and pink things appear on Yoon’s page. The girls’ images are what strike me the most. “It looks like these little princesses vomited fairy-floss all over themselves,” observes Katie Olson at Lifelounge, then adds: “Fabulous.” Indeed!
It wasn’t always this way. The color pink, Yoon notes, was once considered the color of masculinity, a watered-down version of the virile color red. He quotes a 1914 American newspaper that advises parents to “use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.” The reversal of colors for boys and girls occurred only after World War II. Writes Yoon, “as modern society entered twentieth century political correctness, the concept of gender equality emerged and, as a result, reversed the perspective on the colors associated with each gender as well as the superficial connections that attached to them. Today, with the effects of advertising on consumer preferences, these color customs are a worldwide standard.” This is the first time I’ve ever heard the claim that the feminist movement is somehow even indirectly responsible for “pink for girls.” Some quick “say it ain’t so!” Internet research reveals that historians have been unable to pinpoint the reason for the post-WWII color reversal. Reasons for the reversal have been pinned on everything from the Nazis (who labeled the homosexuals in their camps with pink triangles) to a cultural desire on post-war America’s part to bury Rosie the Riveter and replace her with Susie Homemaker. A plausible theory – and I think I uncovered the missing link!
With stores like nANUFACTURE in Spain marketing to parents who wish to avoid the pink/blue dichotomy, it’s clear that color-coding your child’s life is increasingly being seen as unfashionable, even a bit creepy – though, as SocImages points out, this expensive store’s “Save the Babies” campaign may be “more about ‘saving’ kids from things these young, hip parents think are lame or uncool.” Even without the aid of hipster-kid clothing boutiques, parents have a myriad of choices for dressing their kids. As Yoon shows us, some skip out on the pink/blue thing altogether.
For parents of transgender children, on the other hand, the choices today are more complicated than ever. If your son insists, every day, for years, since the moment he can talk, that he’s a girl and not a boy, what kind of clothing do you buy? What kind of toys do you give them? A fascinating article in the current Atlantic examines this issue, focusing on the growing culture of parents who wish to honor their children’s wishes – and the difficulties that accompany such a decision. Delving into everything from children’s rights to Freudian therapy resembling scenes from But I’m a Cheerleader to the heartbreaking story of David Reimer (from the book As God Made Him), the article compassionately examines families on both sides of the fence, chronicling the paths of families who decide to go with their children’s wishes, and those who decide to fight against them.