Why is pink color still associated with women?

While growing up, we must have learned or heard of these two color rules. One is VIBGYOR, to memorize the colors of the rainbow, and another is blue for boys and pink for girls. Why have we approved the second one, though? Who has decided on this rule? What impact has this created on society? And how come so many of us abide by this rule so rigidly?

If I ask you to think of the color pink, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For most of people, they might be conjuring up images of girls in pink dresses playing with dolls. It’s no surprise that our society has overwhelmingly associated this color with delicacy and femininity. That, however, is a recent development. If we go back to the 18th century, little boys and girls of the upper classes both wore pink and other colors uniformly. Many of us are unaware that pink was once considered to be a masculine color. In fact, in old catalogs and books, pink was the color for men.

I have witnessed my little siblings grow up. When I first saw them in the newborn nursery, my little brother and sister were swaddled in pink and blue wraps, respectively. But when they turned two, my sister started preferring and my brother started rejecting pink more. It is a crucial period for babies as they start developing their gender notions and associations. But I have seen how people around me and my siblings started assigning colors to them, which enforced a role that they were supposed to grow and fit into. According to society, we have only two genders that we are allowed to claim. If you are a girl, favor pink to show how girly you are. If you are a boy, you cannot like pink, or you will not be considered manly enough. Also, if you are a girl, you cannot wear bold colors; otherwise, you will be seen as a tomboy and not as a girl who knows how to be a “proper girl”.

No wonder historians are looking back at this generation and laughing at the fact that we allowed something as basic as a color to dictate what could be considered feminine or masculine. It is really important to understand that a lot of the choices that we construct are massively pushed by society, but it doesn’t mean that we need to accept them. We do not need a gender marker of any color to indicate to the world that a person is a man or woman. 

It seems like sexism in colors is something that we as a society have created, not something that was hardwired into our system. As we grow, we witness how the content around us always supports the above statement, even if we don’t want it to. For example, in Bollywood, women are shown flaunting pink attire, and men in a color other than pink. So, this eventually drives female audiences to buy more pink and male audiences to like women only in pink. Likewise, the most controversial packaging is that of KinderJoy. How in their advertisements they’ve indirectly portrayed the belief that pink packaged products are for girls and blue for boys. 

A major percentage of men today feel insecure about wearing the pink color and feel it dictates their sexual orientation or degree of masculinity. They feel their features don’t look adequate in the color or rather, they perceive they will disappoint society by going pink. But, according to me, the most confident men I have encountered have no problem wearing pink from time to time. 

No matter how many studies show that pink should be for men and blue for women, or vice versa. What matters is that every gender has the liberty to identify itself with any color.

Nimisha Agarwal

PGDM (PGFC2236)

2 thoughts on “Why is pink color still associated with women?

  1. While the society is progressing in its own way the discrimination is still prominent in every part of our country. The most basic discrimination done between men and women starts at a very young age but people do not pay much heed towards it. The fact, that you wrote about it so beautifully and presented your ideas and opinions on the said matter, is highly commendable. It’s high time that a girl and a boy choose their own preferences and not what the society tells them. While reading your blog i found myself relating with every word. More people should definitely be reading this piece. Kudos!

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  2. As I was growing up, I was also told by people the colour “rule”: Pink is for girls and blue is for boys. Not only back then today also in 2022 some advertisements like the add of Kinder joy does that as a part of marketing. Little me used to always question Why though? Who got to decide this?

    When I was reading this blog the first thing that came to my mind was an instance from my childhood where my uncle bought some gifts for all the cousins and they were distributed on the basis of colours amongst all of us.

    In my opinion if we want a world without stereotypes, sexism, and other forms of bias, we should cease forcing colours on children since they are completely out of date.

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