From oct 2010 my educational posts are published only on Pip

11 juni 2010

Barbie is a fake, pink is not

Some seem to say that Barbie and pink is pretty much the same, and it striked me that what if it is Barbie who so completely degraded the color of pink in so many minds. Barbie is known to be a toy for little silly girls only and maybe the color has gone the same way in their affinity?

The color of pink was first recorded in the late 17th century and is the color of the dawn, of rosy flowers and of blossom cheeks. These nouns associate further to youth, freshness and naivety. With this in mind it feels even strange that pink not long ago was a masculine color.

I just learned that less than 100 years ago pink was assigned to gender for the first time, and by then to men as deriving from the red. The blue had been a female color for a long time, associating to melancholy and dreams. It was first in the 40s that it turned the other way around and little girls started to get dressed all in pink.

Well, Barbie was launched in 1959, and the early dolls were not packaged in all hysteric pink plastic boxes, so at least it wasn't her making pink to a girly color. The overwhelming pink color must have been added by time according to sales successes and today Barbie is more pink than ever. The more Barbie presents an unattainable dream of perfect girlyness, the more parents seem to think that the doll is appropriate for their daughters. Of course they are right, only that it’s not preparing the girls for the upcoming future where they will have to learn that everything girly is worth, if not nothing, so not so much. Barbie has been criticized for many more ideals, but I stay with the color and the fake here.

Pink has gained status the past 5 years or so. The romantic fresh pink has maybe never left the upper class cleaned look, but the stinging version was considered vulgar and tacky for a couple of decades.

The first gender revolution was in the 70s with an attempt to not let the colors determine who you are. I guess women felt denied and the following 80s was ruled by power women using the pink color to state that there is nothing wrong being a tough girl.

Again there was a contra revolution in the 90s where the grunge fashion was extremely gender neutral, followed by another contra revolution of very strict black. Again girls grew a new believe in their interests of femininity resulting in expressing their desire for pink. This time the commercial forces are strong and enhances all group selected attributes for mass sales.

What’s next? Up til now the need of pink seems to reappear everytime it disappears. Women want to express that they are women and that it's just as much worth as being man. As for right now more parents than me want their girls to know that they are aloud to be the girls they are with the interests they have. We don’t want to prepossess them to just want to be a specific kind of girl with a specific set of interests, and that’s what we are worried about when it comes to the pink color.

I love pink, and I think we can use it to attract girls to do things they wouldn't dare to try if they weren't safe to be welcome, but I don’t want it to be loaded with values as naivety, youth, stupidity or tackyness as Barbie has made it to be with help of a fake smile, a fake body and fake future. To me it is actually Barbie who adds the dilemma to the color.

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