Pink used as pawn in ‘aggressive gender segregation’

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

Pink used as pawn in ‘aggressive gender segregation’. This opens a new browser window.

The pink and blue debate is back in the media today with the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and The Times picking up on the story.

I’m sure Jenny Willott, the UK Consumer Affairs minister sees it not just about the colour. There are actually two things going on here. Toy (object) + colour = gender stereotyping.

When it comes to colour, children don’t have these preconceived society, gender bias associations that adults have. They just love colour. A child will innately gravitate towards colours they love. Let them choose their own colours, to have fun with colour. This allows them to explore and experiment and to trust their own instincts.

It’s not wrong for a girl or a boy to like pink.


“when you see mothers getting all cuddly with their little boys – if that was a colour it would be pink.”


For the love of pink
When it comes to colour psychology, pink is the expression of a mother’s love, maternal love, feminine love, caring, nurturing love. This isn’t the exclusive domain of little girls or women –  but for boys and men too. It’s clear to see when you see mothers getting all cuddly with their little boys – if that was a colour it would be pink.

The irony is pink was actually considered the colour for boys as it is a paler version of red which is the colour of masculinity. In the 1930’s – 40’s a US department store ran a major marketing campaign switching pale blue for boys and pink for girls.

Colour attitude overhaul
It’s time for a major overhaul in the attitudes of those using pink as aggressive marketing with toys, clothing etc aimed at girls.

As when any colour is overused we begin to feel the negative qualities which is what many mothers may instinctively feel. For pink the main negative psychological properties are needy, weak, helpless and emasculating.

Marketers listen up
Colour preferences are personal, which is why some mothers and girls love pink and others loathe it. It’s about having choice and the marketers would do well to take into consideration the psychological qualities of other colours to ensure there are products available in a range of colours to suit different personality types.

Please don’t blame pink or blue for that matter. Question the marketers and toy manufacturers ethics in how they use colour to manipulate.


If this article is of interest to you, you may also like to read
in the news… the pink backlash
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