I was once blue, now I am pink
March 23, 2011 § 4 Comments
Well that was a surprise (although I should have learned by now not to be surprised by human culture). Once the default color for baby boys was pink and for baby girls blue. Pink being derived from the regal red (red for kings, pink for princes). Only after WW II were the colors reversed. Initially for reasons of political correctness, they eventually became exactly what they were before, only reversed. Because humans need these stereotypes.
Gender roles are more an issue of nurture than nature. Baby furniture, clothes and toys are the earliest tools of gender assignment society uses (together with names and various grammatical rules). In my experience, dressing a baby in gender neutral clothes creates waves of embarrassment to people who are uncertain how to address your little bundle of joy. Babies that are a few months old are subject to stereotype behavior, like “boys don’t cry”, encouraged to conform to gender norms, and punished for the opposite behavior.
And gender sometimes can be suffocating. That’s why a couple in Sweden have decided to raise their child gender-free, avoiding all language and cues that would give away its biological identity, even to the child itself. Although such an idea gives me the creeps and I do believe that gender roles should be acquired by imitation, allowing of course for all those particular manifestations that make humans so unique, it is also true that gender stereotypes can be scary.Case in point: this series of photographs by South Korean visual artist JeongMee Yoon. Fascinated by her daughter’s obsession with all things pink, she started digging deeper into the issue. The photos she takes of children with their most cherished possessions (pink for girls, blue for boys) have this intimidating quality and really underline the fact that gender is imposed by society in the cruelest ways. Consumption being the number one culprit.
- The art of collecting (or collecting the ephemeral)
- Women overanalyze, men oversimplify
- Color & gender
Tagged: baby, blue, boy, child, Colors, feminism, Gender, Gender and Sexuality, Gender role, gender studies, girl, JeonMee Yoon, kids, nature vs nurture, parents, photography, photos, Pink, Psychology, Social Sciences, society, South Korea, Stereotype, Sweden, Toys