Back to Pink: We [should] Wear Pink 24/7

The pink-blue gender clothing existed before the 20th century. Red was a relevant colour for male political leaders, associated with power, determination, and force. Pink and its diluted version was for young boys, while blue was considered dainty and related to girls.

In the 1950s, birth announcements, advertising campaigns, and baby books changed their connotations to those now traditionally known. Colours and gender coding are debated these days. Blue for boys and pink for girls-it has diverse meanings, from sweet and innocent (blush pink) to edgy and erotic (shocking pink). Besides that, personalities played a significant role, and cultural icons of the 1950s and 1960s significantly influenced public awareness and the use of pink in fashion and decoration.

A few examples are Mamie Pink, the famous nickname of Mamie Eisenhower (1896-1979), the wife of the 34th president of the United States. Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, 1953) eternised the colour’s positive connotations in “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The French 1950s muse, Brigitte Bardot (1934-) wore pink gingham for her wedding dress in the year 1959. 

Pink - Monroe

Societal rules have exceptions. Prestige brands like Brooks Brothers with Ivy League pink shirts. Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll, and his obsession with colour was visible in his clothes, car, and bedroom. The American boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson, owned a pink Cadillac.

This gender colour-coding became even a part of the language with expressions, such as “pink-collar jobs”, which has the colour-coding sexist origins as well as being old-fashioned, as in the present day there is not such a thing; it was named due to women’s repression in a not-so-distant past. Even contemporary ones, such as “pink money” with similar sexist origins, are also homophobic when it associates homosexuality with femininity.

Pink is the New Black

The pinkification dictatorship is a vital part of pop culture. However, it is crucial to highlight how Hollywood has demonized colour over the past three decades. This brought the uncoherent link of the pink colour with futility.

It originates from the wrong assumption of ultra femininity being interconnected with the lack of substance. This misassumption is due to the second wave of feminism. On the one hand, it covered a range of achievements for white women such as sexuality, family, workplace (equal pay and maternity leave), reproductive rights (contraceptive methods), de facto inequalities, and official legal inequalities. On the other hand, it separated femininity from feminism. The feminists denounced girly things, aiming to be taken seriously, as many of these elements were tools given by men for women to please them. An example was the bra burning during the Miss America protest in 1968.

This is reflected by the depiction of the not like the other girls trope, progressive or influential women who are often shown as tomboy characters who are considered one of the guys, and unaware of how to perform femininity. Such as Viola (Amanda Bynes) in She’s The Man (Andy Fickman, 2006), Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) in The Proposal (Anne Fletcher, 2009) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) in Harry Potter (2001-2011). 

As well as the ugly duckling trope that perpetuates the stereotype to transform the tomboy into a feminine character to be accepted or loved. A few examples are Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) in The Princess Diaries (Garry Marshall, 2001). Tai Fraser (Brittany Murphy) in Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995). Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cook) in She’s All That (Robert Iscove, 1999).

Many 1990s and 2000s productions portrayed femininity as evil through antagonists. Regina George (Rachel McAdams) in Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004). Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) in High School Musical (Kenny Ortega, 2006). Mia Collucci (Anahí) in Rebelde (2004-2006). Additionally, even with the flawed protagonists of Jawbreaker (Darren Stein, 1999), Gossip Girl (2007-2013) and Pretty Little Liars (2010-2017).

Pink - Regina George

However, there are high-maintenance ultra feminine characters who subvert the media stereotype. Such as Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) in Legally Blonde (Robert Luketic, 2001), the protagonists in Fate: The Winx Saga (2021-2022). Live-action Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) in Scooby-Doo (Raja Gosnell, 2002). Barbie (Margot Robbie) from Barbie (Greta Gerwig, 2023).

The pinkification is not limited to pop culture. It played a significant role in the punk music environment with reputed bands like Sex Pistols and Ramones. In the 1990s, the grunge scene with pink colour aesthetics came from Hole´s singer Courtney Love. Later, American pop singer, P!nk, has an artistic name that references the colour and constantly subverts the traditional femininity attributes mentioned.

Pink - Barbie

The branding new pop culture rule now is to wear pink when watching the Barbie film in the theatres, as it has been the main character’s favourite colour, since her birth at the 1959 New York Toy Fair. However, hopefully, it canonises the pink colour to become a part of our everyday life, and not be limited to film premieres, on Netflix´s Wednesdays or in October; it returns to its old meaning associated with power. Last but not least, one thing does not invalidate the other. We can be plural, we can be feminine feminists, and we can wear warm colours such as red or shocking pink that have their value.