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Exploring Pink’s Impact and the Barbie Film’s Subversive Potential

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Sarah Pereez
Sarah Pereezhttps://lahorelives.com
With almost 3 years of experience in journalism, Sarah Pereez has joined Lahore Lives as a Editor in 2023. She has previously worked as an Entertainment journalist, covering Hollywood & Bollywood news. At Lahore Lives, she tracks news updates, edit articles and write copies for science and technology.

According to Clare Thorp, despite being long linked with submission and passivity, the color pink has been reclaimed and now represents subversion, which is celebrated in the new Barbie movie.

Do you currently get the impression that you are viewing the world through rose-colored glasses? It’s not just you. If there is a color for summer 2023, it is unquestionably pink, and Barbie is (mainly) to blame.

With its set designers using a pallet of 100 distinct colors, the upcoming live-action Barbie movie, starring Margot Robbie and directed by Greta Gerwig, has capitalized on the color’s link with the iconic doll. It has reportedly led to a global shortage of pink paint.

With billboards, buses, the cast’s (pink) carpet attire, a real-life Barbie Dreamhouse on Airbnb, more than 100 business tie-ins, and a Google takeover, the movie’s all-encompassing marketing campaign has left a sea of pink wherever it goes.

When Lionel Messi officially signed for Inter Miami at the weekend and unveiled his pink number 10 jersey, the pre-Barbie hype was so pervasive that one might have assumed Mattel employed him.

The club, which David Beckham co-owns, debuted its eye-catching new uniform in February and is still one of just a few professional male teams to wear pink, a color that is still strongly associated with women despite being prominent in recent menswear collections.

Only sometimes, though. The girl-pink/boy-blue division only emerged in the middle of the 20th century, according to Kassia St. Clair, a cultural historian and author of The Secret Lives of Colour.

According to an 1893 New York Times article about infant clothing, “Always give pink to a boy and blue to a girl.” Pink was considered the more powerful color because it relates to the passionate, aggressive red, whereas Mary’s favorite shade was blue. According to St Clair, whose father was a military officer born in 1925, Pink is his favorite color, and he doesn’t find it odd.

But Pink was forced down my neck as a youngster in the 1980s and 1990s when it was a feminine color. As a result, I shied away from Pink for a very long time. I had had enough of it. It and I had a really difficult relationship.

After World War Two, when men returned to the workforce, and women began to withdraw into the home, pink changed into something delicate, adorable, and unthreatening.

In 1953, two significant events symbolized two distinct but equally constrained forms of womanhood: Mamie Eisenhower’s soft pink ballgown at her husband’s inauguration and Marilyn Monroe’s bright pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Pink was the First Lady’s preferred color and was viewed as the epitome of femininity. It created a fad for pink furnishings, appliances, and clothing that quickly spread to toys. St Clair states, “It was in style at the same time that there was this absolute explosion of consumer goods and advertising became much more sophisticated.” Pink became the standard color for ladies and has been able to do so for a long time.

Men desire a female to be pink, helpless, and to breathe deeply, according to singer and performer Jayne Mansfield, who lived in her own “Pink Palace.” Pink represents something soft and docile, but some people have different notions.

Pink became a favorite of punk bands like The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, and Vivienne Westwood’s Sex Shop had a neon sign that said, “Pink is the only true rock ‘n’ roll color,” according to The Clash’s Paul Simonon.

In the 1970s, the LGBTQ+ community recovered pink from its gloomy background in Nazi Germany, where pink triangles were used to identify gay prisoners in death camps.

At this time, Pink became a symbol of celebration, self-identification, and pride in the LGBTQ+ community. The pink triangle, which appeared on posters during the Aids epidemic in the 1980s and has since become a symbol of resistance, is still potent in the queer community.

In the twenty-first century, Pink became a more contentious color that divided people. Advertisers that used pink to advertise female items, such as pink footballs and Lego sets, came under fire.

The idea that women were charged more than men for similar goods, such as toiletries, gained notoriety as the “pink tax,” a disparaging phrase for the practice. Activists condemned pink and blue gender-specific toys and cautioned that careless stereotyping could harm a child’s chances for the future.

It demonstrated the potential power of Pink, which some people used to their advantage. Politicians like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton embraced pink suits as a discreet method to assert their dominance while ensuring the public that they posed no threat.

Popular culture has also looked into this concept. In Legally Blonde, Reese Witherspoon’s pink-obsessed Elle Woods is mocked as a dumb blonde yet manages to get into Harvard Law School (“What, like it’s hard?”) and graduate first in her class.

The last ten years have been challenging for the color. Even the pink millennials preferred was a subdued color that looked almost apologetic. Pinks with a yellow or grey base, as opposed to blue-based pinks like Barbie pink and Legally Blonde pink, have performed exceptionally well in recent years and have transcended girliness, according to St Clair.

Some feminists have hailed Pink as a representation of female power. Numerous women donned handmade “pink pussy hats” during the 2017 Women’s March, despite criticism that it trivialized the important concerns they were protesting.

What does the color now stand for as Barbie makes it ubiquitous again? Greta Gerwig, the film’s director, declared that she intended to create “something anarchic, wild, and completely bananas,” adding that the movie “is most definitely a feminist film… in a way that includes everyone.” (Although Mattel themselves beg to disagree.)

The movie confronts Barbie’s role in “shaping expectations for women,” which attracted actor America Ferrera to the project. Gloria, the assistant to Mattel’s CEO and mother of a teenage daughter, also gives a key monologue that Margot Robbie claims “captures the cognitive dissonance of being a woman under the patriarchy.”

The most popular movie ever made by a female director may be this inclusive and feminist take on Barbie that completely embraces pink. It is one of the summer’s biggest films, if not the entire year. That lacks any signs of being delicate, elegant, or frivolous. Pink has hardly ever felt more influential.

Pink is for everyone, including Ken, in the movie as well. And while a single film or pink-clad world-famous player is unlikely to transform our idea of Pink as a gendered color, our tense relationship with it may change. St Clair states, “Shorthands and clich├ęs are very powerful, and it’s difficult to escape them.”

“The perception that Pink is a limiting shade and that pink signifies something inferior to blue is changing. Pink is now used in a way with strength and wisdom. With a wink, it will arrive.

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