“Real Men Wear Pink”? A Gender History of Color
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The first thing that happens to a newborn baby is that it is color-coded—pink if a girl, blue if a boy. For girls, in particular, this is just the beginning of an extensive color-coded gendering process. Since the early 2000s, girl advocates have openly criticized pink’s seductive pull on little girls. More recently, boys who wear pink have become subject to discussion. Tracing the metonymic relationship between color and femininity in the Western history of art, fashion, and marketing helps contextualize current anxieties about pink’s alleged power to feminize boys. It shows that the global circulation of color theories and actual paints and dyes since the sixteenth century, on one hand, and the “color revolution” in marketing and fashion of the early-to-mid twentieth century, on the other hand, paved the way for today’s gendered “affective economy” of pink.