Birgitta Haga Gripsrud

Why pink stinks is a long due attempt to create critical awareness around and resistance to the “pinkyfication” of girlhood. The toy and clothing industries in particular, are responsible for an unprecedented colour-schemed gendering of childhood. When I grew up in 1970-80s Norway, pink was practically non-existent. I wore red and brown and blue and green clothes, often hand me downs from cousins of both genders. This was the time before ultrasound scanning, and pregnant mothers didn’t know the gender of their unborn child, opting for unisex baby clothing, easily recyclable when the next baby comes along.

The increasing pinkyfication of girlhoods, is a cause for concern - as it actively excludes boys from participation with girlie toys. Boys have more to lose from being perceived as “feminised” whereas it it less stigmatising for girls to enter the boys blue world.  In most advertising targeted towards kids, the options are pre-made and they are reduced to a stereotypical binary: angry warrior or fairy princess. Toy and clothing manufacturers have discovered that gender sells, are are churning out stuff like never before. Instead of sharing clothes, toys and general kids stuff like we did in the old days - parents with girls and boys are encouraged to stock up double sets of everything in pink and blue.

For the record: I don´t believe pink is inherently evil. For example, I didn’t throw a fit when our four-year-old son insisted that he preferred a pink butterfly bicycle helmet over the blue intergalactically themed one. I did worry he would be teased in kindergarten, though - but he seems to have escaped this, with only minor puzzlement by his peers. He carries his pink helmet with pride. Furthermore, I know a cancer surgeon who wears pink crocs at work to show his solidarity with breast cancer patients every day of the year (and not just in October, Pink Ribbon month). Put it this way: not only is he a nice man - he does pink a lot of favours.

In some ways, when we reach adulthood, many of us perceive of pink as a “silly” colour (which in itself could indicate why pink does girls no favours!). Pink allows for a certain kind of feminine (role) play, which may be good or bad for girls, depending on how restrictive the social gender norms are in their particular situation. Pink is of course not the sole causal agent in the gendering of children; the social relations, peer and parental encouragements do far more to ensure that girls will be girls and boys will be boys. BUT: the fact that the girlie world is becoming more pink than ever, is a reactionary trend worth watching. And for parents of girls: why do you feel that you have to give in to the pink surge? What would be the consequences of resisting?

This commentary, by Mary Ann Sieghart in The Independent, lays out the arguments and evidence against the pinkyfication of girlhood in a very convincing way, as well as shaking the increasingly popular myth that gender behaviour is merely a result of genetic dispositions: