Pink is a color with a pretty colorful history. You may be surprised what pink has as well as has not been associated with over time.

At one point, this was a symbol of manhood.

At every point, this is a symbol of manhood.


Just The Facts

  1. Pink started out as a gender neutral color that waivered on the side of masculine.
  2. The feminization of pink is primarily a European phenomenon. The French as well as the Nazi part are to be ... blamed.
  3. Pink has as many different meanings as pink has shades.
  4. The color pink is achieved by mixing the base color red with either white other colors from rose to purple.

The Color of the Flower Gods.

The word pink can be traced back to a fourteenth century verb that means to crimp the ends. The pink hue was generally seen of flowers of the Dianthus genus. Dianthus flowers are prominent in Europe, Asia, as well as North Africa. The word Dianthus itself is a combination of two words. The first part is dios which means God and anthos which means flower. Literally, pink flowers are seen as the God of all flowers. That would put Dianthus as the top of the Pecking order of flowers. In the seventeenth century, the word pink may have been influenced by penken. This is a German word that means 'to peck.' In the seventeenth century as well, Thomas Jenner's A Book of Drawing described the pink as being a yellowish hue to be mixed with bluish hues to get green hues.

XX v XY : How did pink get feminized?

In 1868, Louisa May Alcott's book Little Women featured two twins. In order to tell the twins apart, there is a blue ribbon put on the boys head and the pink ribbon is put on the girls head in a French fashion. In 19th century French orphanages, children were marked blue and pink according to sex. However, in the late nineteenth century, P. T. Barnum hosted an event for kids. The kids showed up dressed in all sorts of different colors including boys in pink clothes. So while Alcott may have been up on European fashions, the United States does not seem to have quite gotten the ... hint. As a matter of fact, in the early twentieth century pink was considered to be more masculine due to its proximity to red. Blue was actually associated with the Virgin Mary. Association with an eternal virgin in the Catholic faith was not generally considered to be the most masculine of activities. The 1940s really started the ideal of pink being a truly feminine color. This was accomplished when the Nazis put an armband on accused homosexuals with a pink triangle. Jews were similiarly armbanded with a star of David. All of the sudden, girls in America were getting pink ribbons and boys were getting blue. This may be due to a belief that girls would not be gay. This might have been seen as an encouragement to have the all important heterosexiual young boy. Either way, pink was permanently colored. As has been noted before, the swastika was an east Asian symbols of peace as well as hope. After the Nazis, pink seemed more feminine and the swastika became a symbol of hatred. From then on, pink was branded as a 'girl's color.'

The Additional 'Coloring' of Pink

The Bolshevik revolution in Russia should not have really had an effect on the color 'pink.' However, the Communist Reds and the those loyal to the Czar were designated as 'White' had an effect on how colors were seen. In 1926, Time magazine labeled leftist liberals with mild socialist sympathies as 'pinkos' or 'pinks.' Throughout the decades, 'Pinko Communist' was a slur through the ensuing decades in the twentieth century. The Wall Street Journal went so far as to call leftists as effetes or 'parlor pinks.' Politicians in the 1960s were especially virulent in labeling opponents as 'pinkos' or communist Soviets sympathizers. Alabama governor George Wallace would label reporters as members of the 'pinko press.' Richard Nixon went so far as to call his opponent in the 1950 Senate race Helen Gahagan Douglas "pink right down to her underwear." Liberalism as well as Communism tendencies in association helped to pink to lose a lot of its masculinity. Throw in association with Nazism as well as homosexuality and pink became an increasingly hard sell to men. As no small consequence, pink became the most popular color of womens underwear.

In addition to Communism and homosecuality, pink was additionally associated with alcoholism. In 1913, Jack London published a semi-autobiographical book called John Barleycorn. In this book, London mentioned that a man in his 'ectasy' saw 'blue mice and pink elephants.' Now, this would have remained a curiousity in early 20th century literature if not for the Walt Disney corporation. Disney made Dumbo in 1941. In the movie Timothy G. Mouse gets intoxicated and sees pink elephants. Ironically, there is no hint of London's "Blue Mice" even though the hallucination comes from a mouse. Disney's obvious mouse bias is well documented. Thusm, the song and segment became Pink Elephants on Parade rather than Mice Who Get Sloshed and See Other Blue Mice. Confusingly, the realms of liberalism, communism, alcoholism, and male homosexuality were seen as exclusively feminine. All of this was symbolized by the color pink.

The reclaiming of pink as positive feminine symbol and color was helped in 1991 when the breast cancer awareness Susan G. Kommen for the Cure handed out pink ribbons at a race in New York City. The pink ribbon became an international symbol for breast cancer awareness. Pink has become more socially acceptable as the pink ribbons as breast cancer awareness push has grown in the last two decades. Now, every year NFL players wear pink as part of thier uniform to show support for breast cancer awareness.

Pink in Popular Culture

Pink As A Color - Pink has been used as a color by Crayola crayons in eight different variations since 1949. The first color was pink carnation which brought pink back to its flower power roots. Ultra Pink and Shocking Pink followed in 1972. Tickle Me Pink started in 1993. 1998 saw the Monica Lewinsky scandal which may or may not have inspired the coming of Pink Flamingo, Piggy Pink, and Pink Sherbert.

Pink Floyd - The legendary rock band Pink Floyd started out as a band called The Tea Set. However, when another band showed up at a festival they were playing at called the Tea Set, Pink Floyd changed thier name to the The Pink Floyd Experience which was later shortened to Pink Floyd. As a tribute, in thier rock opera The Wall central character was named Floyd Pinkerton or Pink Floyd.

In Music - In addition to the artst and singer Pink. Pink is also the name two different albums. Pink was an album recorded by the Japanese band Boris as well as an album by Nicki Minaj. The two albums are not related.

Mr. Pink - Mr. Pink is a character in the 1992 movie Resevoir Dogs. The character is played by Steve Buschemi who is not happy at all with the feminine designation of being Mr. Pink. Somewhat out of fear, the character accepts the name Mr. Pink. It is never learned in the movie what the character's actual name was. A song called "Mr. Pink" was recorded by the band Level 42 on thier 1980 album Strategy.

Pink As A Part of Valentine's Day - During the Victorian era in England, Valentine's cards came into vogue. This is generally accepted to be started between 1840 and 1860. The 'valentine's' increased in scope and creativity through the Victorian age. Pink and white lace as well as pink hearts became a standard feature. Now, pink as a color of Valentine's is a generally accepted feature.

The Hart Foundation - The Hart Foundation was a tag team in the 1980's through 1990's in the WWE and WCW which featured performs Bret "The Hitman" Hart and his brother in law Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. They were a successful championship winning tag team. There were different line-ups of the team, but the classic one is the one most remembered. Hot pink spandex was a staple of the tag team all through thier run.