JeongMee Yoon Explores the Relationship Between Color Choices and Gender Roles in Her “Pink & Blue Project”

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How the Project Started

The Pink and Blue Project was inspired by Yoon’s then five year-old daughter, who was utterly obsessed with the color pink. Yoon notes that her little girl loves pink so much that, “she wanted to wear only pink clothes and play with only pink toys and objects.” After meeting other parents, Yoon found that her experience was not unusual. In the United States, South Korea and elsewhere, Yoon says she noticed that, “most young girls love pink clothing, accessories and toys,” adding, “This phenomenon is widespread among children of various ethnic groups regardless of their cultural backgrounds.” After compiling many pink images, Yoon became aware that boys also had a major color preference: blue. Yoon states, “In the case of my eleven year-old son, even though he does not seem to particularly like the color blue over other colors, whenever we shop for his clothes, the clothes he chooses are from the many-hued blue selection.”

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The History of Color

One of the most fascinating parts of the essay that accompanies this series is that Yoon discusses the history of color choices. According to Yoon’s research, pink for girls and blue for boys is a rather new phenomenon. In fact, Yoon found out that pink was once associated with masculinity, due to it being a watered down shade of red, a color once associated with power. Yoon writes, “In 1914, The Sunday Sentinel, an American newspaper, advised mothers to use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.” The shift to pink for girls and blue for boys occurred after World War II and kicked off in America.

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Does Pink Equal Domestic and Blue Equal Science?

Yoon is of the opinion that not only are girl and boy toys divided by color, but also by theme. For example, Yoon notes that many pink, red and purple girl toys relate to make up, dress up, cooking, and domestic affairs while most toys and books for boys are various shades of blue and relate to robots, industry, science and dinosaurs. In Yoon’s opinion, these divided guidelines for girls and boys, “deeply affect children’s gender group identification and social learning.”

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2 Responses to “JeongMee Yoon Explores the Relationship Between Color Choices and Gender Roles in Her “Pink & Blue Project””

  1. WingedWolfPsion says:

    I agree with Yoon – the problem is that males and females are being restricted to artificial gender roles from birth, by having the toys color-coded, and every single activity and social trait in their lives gender-coded for them. Girls are supposed to be social, domestic, quiet, and artistic. Boys are supposed to be active and aggressive, and into science, technology, and engineering. These things are NOT natural traits of gender. All individual people are different, and children should be free to express all of their differences and preferences without every being told that they’re behaving ‘like a boy’ or ‘like a girl.’ So, is there anything wrong with pink? No, so long as boys are equally accepted when they wear it.

  2. ZeldaLara says:

    Most people do not realize that in the 19th century pink was considered a masculine color. It was seen as diluted red.

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