What is wrong with pink?

(81 Posts)
strawberriesandmelon Sun 04-Mar-12 23:53:04

Of course, I know what is wrong with pink-itis... but how do I explain it to my 4 year old? Needless to say, all girls in her nursery wear almost exclusively pink and all toys in the girls section are pink. I don't want to be authoritarian and just ban the pink, so I thought it would be a good idea to explain to her, in a way she could understand, what is wrong with it. Any suggestions?

TunipTheVegemal Mon 05-Mar-12 11:57:30

it's not the pink itself, it's 1. the lack of choice and 2. the fact that they are led to believe that only girls can wear it and if something is pink it means it's for girls.

Grown-up explanation at PinkStinks, here

kris12345678910 Mon 19-Mar-12 15:10:34

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WilfyFTM Mon 19-Mar-12 15:18:40

Absolutely nothing Kris.

JiroGym Mon 19-Mar-12 15:23:08

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WilfyFTM Mon 19-Mar-12 15:23:46


rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 15:25:16

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JiroGym Mon 19-Mar-12 15:27:25

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kris12345678910 Mon 19-Mar-12 15:29:20

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Devora Mon 19-Mar-12 15:31:25

Nothing wrong with pink, and I wouldn't ban it. Pink is just the gateway to all that stuff that IS a problem - closing down girls' sense of the world of interest and opportunities and possibilities out there, and getting them to think that their natural path is populated only by princesses and fairies and Katy Price and low pay...

My eldest was into pink, and my youngest is currently pink crazy. They have plenty of pink stuff, but I make sure they get other stuff too. They have a trainset and a garage and toy cars and Bob The Builder, alongside their dolls house and fluffy kittens and so on. I (gently and age-appropriately) challenge stuff they come out with like, "Girls can't do that, it's a boy thing" or "You can only be a princess with yellow hair".

Mine have two mothers, both of whom have long hair and both of whom like pink (and lots of other colours too). But they also see us working for a living, changing plugs and painting walls, talking about fashion but also talking about books and politics. Even so, I'm aware they get so many messages about what girls 'should' be like, and pink is like the big organising symbol of that. So while I don't see anythying wrong with pink per se, I am aware that everytime something else pink and sparkly comes into our house it is saying something to my daughters, and making it all the more important that I give them a balancing, rounded message in order to help them find their own way in the world.

Devora Mon 19-Mar-12 15:31:49

Actually, kris, I think it is a big deal.

rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 15:32:14

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outofthelight Mon 19-Mar-12 15:33:24

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nenevomito Mon 19-Mar-12 15:34:53

Same here - There's nothing wrong with pink itself, but the way that toys are colour coded does present a problem. i.e. If you tell girls that pink is a girl colour and they look and see that the toy household items are all pink, while the garage and robots are all blue, its reinforcing gender stereotypes and its annoying.

DD has a toy kitchen, pram and dolls, but also has a garage and toolbench. DS has a mixture of toys including a toy hoover which he loves. I'd prefer it if toys were not blue or pink so children weren't steered to one or the other.

startail Mon 19-Mar-12 15:36:15

Nothing wrong with pink, but an awful lot wrong with stereotyping things for girls or boys.

Also try having an older DDs who wants things purple and tourquise to go with their rooms. You can't even compromise on blue because its liable to have a football painted on it.

It's more than lazy design, it quietly removes and insidiously removes choice. A boy might love pushing his teddy round in a bright red buggy or feeding it plastic fruit, but if buggys are only frilly and pink and the only toy food is flowery cup cakes all but the very smallest boys are conditioned to flee.

Likewise girls will gravitate to the pink tea set and the obviously female dolls if only because its easier than fighting the boys to play with the duplo.

JiroGym Mon 19-Mar-12 15:36:19

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tethersend Mon 19-Mar-12 15:36:34

Pink is just a signifier- by banning it, you are reinforcing and perpetuating the gender divide it signifies.

It is what pink has come to signify which must be challenged- I think this is best done by encouraging boys to wear it, not banning girls from doing so. Banning something that is used as shorthand for female in our society can inadvertently communicate the message to girls that 'girly = weak, bad, to be avoided', and that 'male' pursuits are somehow more valuable, when the opposite is true.

rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 15:36:39

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Devora Mon 19-Mar-12 15:38:13

Sorry strawberries, just realised I didn't really help with your question. I wouldn't make her think that there's anything wrong with pink, just keep alive the possibilities of other colours IYSWIM. dd1 used to ask me frequently why pink wasn't my favourite colour, and I'd just say, "I love pink, but I love green more". (Her favourite colours are now blue and yellow.) I'd talk about all the pretty colours of the rainbow. I'd just give her action-oriented toys without making a big deal of it. I'd make cupcakes with her but I'd make volcanoes too. I'd take her to the Science Museum and other non-pink places. Just keeping offering the opportunities, without making her feel forced in any direction.

kris12345678910 Mon 19-Mar-12 15:38:20

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MicMakem Mon 19-Mar-12 15:39:36

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Devora Mon 19-Mar-12 15:39:50

And when she got older, I started saying things like, "I don't think it's fair that Louis got laughed at for wanting to wear a princess dress. Why shouldn't boys dress like princesses? Why shouldn't girls dress like pirates?" and just have a conversation with her about it. If she didn't agree with me I wouldn't make a big deal of it, just say, "Oh, well I think it's best if everyone can do what they want to do" and leave it at that.

outofthelight Mon 19-Mar-12 15:40:16

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rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 15:42:00

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tethersend Mon 19-Mar-12 15:42:18

Pink was originally a colour for boys.

Trills Mon 19-Mar-12 15:42:52

Nothing is wrong with pink.

But nothing is wrong with blue or green or yellow or red or purple or orange either.

There is something wrong with pink being the only acceptable colour for girls.

Devora Mon 19-Mar-12 15:43:29

rubmeup - I'm a lesbian, and we have two children together.

kris - confused? Nah, my kids know what's what. It's the OTHER kids that are confused smile

outofthelight Mon 19-Mar-12 15:44:07

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rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 15:44:31

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WilfyFTM Mon 19-Mar-12 15:44:53

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JiroGym Mon 19-Mar-12 15:45:36

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Devora Mon 19-Mar-12 15:45:50

I did black and grey till my dd got to 3, then she rebelled. I thought she looked kind of sophisticated and French. She thought she looked like a spook.

kris12345678910 Mon 19-Mar-12 15:48:37

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tethersend Mon 19-Mar-12 15:49:07

out- it was; colours were more or less interchangeable, but pink was thought of as more masculine as it was closer to red. Some info here.

rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 15:49:22

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outofthelight Mon 19-Mar-12 15:50:21

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LucyManga Mon 19-Mar-12 15:50:54

I am a feminist and dnt mind my daughter indulging in a bit of pink - she chose a pink colour scheme when we recently did up her room, and she has loads of pink clothes. Its a nice colour :-) its the princess shit that I abhor, and the stupid bloody play hoovers, washing machines and prams all aimed at girls.

I have a DS and he has pink if he wants. A lot of the clothes meant for boys are dull coloured. I wish there was a happy medium. I don't remember so much pink when I was little but I had older brothers

JiroGym Mon 19-Mar-12 15:53:34

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LaineyPea Mon 19-Mar-12 15:54:20

All the pink plastic princessy crap in the shops makes me glad to have boys.

tethersend Mon 19-Mar-12 15:54:46

Laugh? I nearly did.

rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 15:55:08

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YouGoDuplo Mon 19-Mar-12 15:55:54

I'm hoping that balance is the answer the the pink problem. My eldest has a lot of pink stuff but mainly because if we go into a shop to buy a lunch box say, there are two options a blue one with a JCB on it or a pink one with a butterfly on it. She will choose the pink butterfly one, even though she prefers blue as a colour, because she doesn't like the JCB picture.

So I try to find the balance, when we see something we like in blue or green or red we normally get that rather than the pink version. The problem is that half the time pink seems to be the only option that isn't totally boyish.

And every time someone buys us something for her it is always pink. We now have a lot of pink.
I try to balance it out with train sets and garage and tool set and doctors kit which are less girly but the pink seems to seep into the house anyway!

Honeydragon Mon 19-Mar-12 16:00:22

Ds recently has developed pink ishoos again hmm

He fails to notice his Dad wears pink quite regularly, because it's normal and doesn't register on his radar. But what the other boys at school say does.

SardineQueen Mon 19-Mar-12 16:04:37

Where did the kids come from?

I think someone is on the wind-up.

rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 16:08:43

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kris12345678910 Mon 19-Mar-12 16:08:43

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YouGoDuplo Mon 19-Mar-12 16:10:58

Sometimes there is just no justice in the world....

rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 16:14:25

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Trills Mon 19-Mar-12 16:15:54

The stork of course

milkysmum Mon 19-Mar-12 16:16:01

kris- doner maybe? you sure your not trying to be a wind up!?

Devora Mon 19-Mar-12 16:28:28

Kris - tell you what, you go away and have a think about all the different ways lesbians can have children together (we've done it two different ways!) then come back. If you get it right there's a prize smile

rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 16:29:31

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JiroGym Mon 19-Mar-12 16:32:55

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ScarlettAlexandra Mon 19-Mar-12 16:35:31

it is annoying as there is very little choice other than pink for girls. i love green and grey but its almost impossible to find.

Just t6ell you dont think it's a very nice colour.

tethersend Mon 19-Mar-12 16:38:37

But you can't make a colour the villain of the piece, ABF- that makes no sense. There is nothing inherently wrong with pink, and I think it weakens the argument to suggest that there is.

outofthelight Mon 19-Mar-12 16:39:10

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rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 16:42:04

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I'm not saying to make it like a villain. But when her DD says "ooh can I have it in pink please mummy?" just say "I think the other colour is much nicer than the pink one"

Her DD is nursery age she doesnt want nor would she benefit from a full explaination of why her mother doesnt like the connections made with the colour pink.
If the OP feels so strongly about her DD wearing so much pink or yammering on for the pink versions of toys then the best way to do it is paint the idea of a different colour being nicer.

rubmeup Mon 19-Mar-12 16:46:37

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Or fuschia maybe? grin

JiroGym Mon 19-Mar-12 16:48:51

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tethersend Mon 19-Mar-12 17:00:19

"Her DD is nursery age she doesnt want nor would she benefit from a full explaination of why her mother doesnt like the connections made with the colour pink."

This I agree with wholeheartedly- but I think her mother is wrong; rather than looking for ways to appropriately dissuade her DD from choosing pink, I think we should let her choose it and work on changing what it signifies IYSWIM.

ElephantsAreMadeOfElements Mon 19-Mar-12 17:00:39

Who made them want to buy the pink sparkly things, though, Jiro? It's not hard-wired into the female psyche. The "everything pink and sparkly" cultural expectation is a very recent one (I'd guess around 25 years or so). It's a view that has been insidiously forced on children, and I entirely agree with you that that's wrong. Exploring with your children that the views that have been forced on them by other people might not be entirely justified, however, seems quite reasonable.

Ahh I see we are in agreement then tethers I have no issue with the colour pink either and hate that it has been made "for girls only" I was just offering a suggestion to the OP on how to calm down the pink addiction.

FloweryRuna Mon 19-Mar-12 17:04:18

I never taught my dd to like pink (tbh pink wasn't ever my favourite colour, I liked orange and yellow as a kid). Still my dd was drawn so much to the colour pink since the beginning and wants something pink, even cats that are pink! She can only have pink cuddly toy animals.

It must be the candy shade? I have this condition (not sure if DD has it too) that I can add colours with a flavour.

ElephantsAreMadeOfElements Mon 19-Mar-12 17:18:02

You didn't, FloweryRune, but that doesn't mean that no one did. Pregnant women are asked "pink or blue"? People buy pink or blue clothing as gifts for a newborn baby. Babies who aren't wearing pink are assumed to be boys. Boy babies are never dressed in pink. If a product's packaging shows girls playing with or using something, nine times out of ten it will be pink. Children very very quckly pick up the "pink is for girls, and girls like pink" message without their parents ever having to sit down and teach it to them. Because that pressure wasn't around (or not to nearly the same degree) when we were children, it's easy to miss it and assume that our daughters "just arrive at" a favourite colour the same way that we did, and that it's just some bizarre statistical blip that so many of them come up with pink, rather than a carefully planned marketing message.

MrsArchieTheInventor Tue 20-Mar-12 11:17:11

Really chaps?! Haven't you got more pressing matters to attend to? Like making premature travel arrangments for the semi-final?! confused

You have been ratted, naughty boys! Now go away and play nicely! grin

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 20-Mar-12 14:26:16


Can I just say how very much I admire the esteemed MNers on this thread?

For reasons that I hope will be obvious wink


Ponders Tue 20-Mar-12 14:30:10

blimey, this is a contentious thread shock

SardineQueen Tue 20-Mar-12 14:38:22

Oooh where were they all from then? Do MNHQ know?

dollymixtures Tue 20-Mar-12 16:51:13

What about the sterling work on the other thread about all the nasty female abusers? Where did that go btw, I wanted to tell everyone about the amaaaaazing chocolate cheesecake that I had at lunchtime?

Honeydragon Tue 20-Mar-12 23:50:49

I love the fact that due to the good behaviour of genuine posters the deletions make no difference to reading the thread grin, if still flows perfectly.

somewheresomehow Fri 22-Jun-12 21:45:52

grow up its a feckin colour
if you want to be a pain whats the 'problem' with putting boys in blue

MrGin Tue 03-Jul-12 14:05:08


It's called gender stereotyping somewheresomehow , you know men thinking they need to thump their chests, women feeling under pressure to inflate theirs. All starts at an early age.......

Anyway......My dd is three and she is in her 'pink phase'. One day she was happy to be in trousers and dresses of all colours and shade, have an interest in dinosaurs ( even had the duvet cover and loved it ! ) , the next seemingly it's all bloody princesses and pink.

All coincided with starting nursery pretty much and the odd Disney film that slipped through the net.

I just try and offer up alternates and remind her ( show her ) that there are many other colours. Also that princesses are pretty dull in their activities.

She now likes pink and purple so that's something I guess.

Two links that might be of interest:

This cartoon sums it all up for me

and this article Pink Is Not The Enemy, Sterotypes Are details how this happened in the late eighties/early nineties. I was born in early 1979 and I do NOT remember 'pink is for girls' - but it must have happened very soon after.

I think it's terribly limiting, specially when 'housework' toys like hoovers, kitchens, pushchairs etc are all pink and therefore, it is indicated, FOR GIRLS. DS has a doll pushchair which he likes to push (after all, he sees his dad pushing a buggy all the time!) but finding one that was just a 'neutral' colour was pretty hard. Even though our actual-size pushchair is green....

ooh this article really is good. It articulates a lot of what I was thinking, when reading this thread, about us all trying to 'strike a balance'

^"We don’t want to inadvertently assign significance to stereotypes. Some people WANT us to verify that certain colors are only for boys or only for girls, because then they can peddle fear of pink to parents who are afraid of having gay boys. Not that buying pink stuff for your boy in any way is going to make him turn out gay. It doesn't work like that, but a lot of anti-gay people try to convince us otherwise.

Pink is not the enemy. Limitation is. Princesses are not the enemy. Stereotypes are.

If you want to empower your daughter, there are a lot of ways to do it besides telling her not to like princesses. Tell her to question the stereotypes associated with princesses." ^

It also really nails down the point that, while you will buy a black and white football for your children to share, if you can be persuaded to buy a blue one for your son and a pink one for your daughter, then whoopeee, you've bought twice as much stuff from the football manufacturer! Evil mechandising bastards smile

I think that's why the few children's toys that are still pretty gender-neutral are the ones that NO PARENT who isn't a lottery winner would buy twice - you don't see a lot of pink trampolines or treehouses, for example. Because you expect your children to share them.

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 05-Jul-12 15:16:15

DS likes pink, but always precedes pink requests with "I know it's supposed to be for girls but can I have......"

The tide may be changing though. Yesterday when shopping we saw pink Tshirts aimed at 7-14yo boys with the slogan "Strong Enough To Wear Pink".

ooh Dione where are those shirts? I WANT one!
Although DS is only two. But where are they?

Greymalken Wed 31-Oct-12 00:21:37

Indeed up until 1904 and the Sears catalog Pink was seen as a manly color and blue was considered a unisex color. The catalog contained a new summer range and within its pages they introduced the canalization that boys wore blue and girls wore pink. There isn't any real problem with the color persay the main issue is societal assumptions.

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