Why color shouldn’t have a gender and it is time for society to say goodbye to its cemented binary color code for girls and boys.
Colors play a significant role in kids’ lives. Especially for the adults around them. And nothing sparks controversy as much as the color pink. Depending on who is wearing it, it is always loaded with a different connotation. When girls wear pink, the association is “girly girl” or “princess.” When a four year old boy decides to wear pink leggings, adults will ask if he has an older sister, describe this boy as progressive and emancipated, or will be worried that this could affect his sexual orientation.
About Trends and societal conditions
Colors and items of clothing are clearly subject to trends and underlying societal conditions.
Although long hair is still associated with femininity, we also see from historical depictions of saints, knights and squires, from hippies and hipsters, and from current popular fantasy shows that flowing manes and ponytails are not gender specific.
On the other hand, pants are still considered men’s clothing, even though in many parts of the world men wear dresses, skirts or sarongs. Just a few generations ago, women wearing pants were considered “indecent.” Today, you can see Lederhosen in the women’s traditional clothing section next to the Dirndls.
With colors there is a similar story. In some places white is the color of mourning, in others its black. Blue used to be considered the color of the mother of god (=female) and red the color of the ruler—think about the typical outfit of a king in a fairytale film. In the 1980s there were still wooden toys and legos in all colors for all children. Today there are two separate sections separated by color: the light, sweet pink-purple section stands across from its dark blue-brown-black counterpart. If clothing brands dare to challenge gendered color norms, they will often mark clothing with “unambiguous” symbols and motifs like strawberries, kittens and butterflies or monster trucks, sharks and dinosaurs. Incidentally, adults can choose between flamingos, pineapples and alpacas. These symbols are less gender-branded. On the whole, adults have much more diversity in their closets. Wasn’t this the other way around at one point?
In any case, pink is neither bad nor good. Gender identity develops with or without colors in diverse ways.
Even children in green, orange or turquoise clothing will sometimes act like princes, princesses or bullies.
Buying gender-neutral clothing is often more time-intensive and expensive than going to the closest inexpensive clothing store. But we do need to pay more attention to what a person actually likes and what their interests are. Then presumptions and clichés can start to fall to the wayside.
And when the pink, tulle and glitter get out of hand?
There’s a popular answer from parents: It’s just a phase! When girls feel comfortable in pink because they identify as girls and have learned that this color is somehow connected to being a girl, that’s okay! When boys love glitter and pink, then that’s also okay. No pink is no solution. And butterflies are just insects.
No pink is no solution. And butterflies are just insects.lil*
This blog article was contributed by lil* from Austria and was published first in the heroine’s magazine.