The Pink Stinks Campaign

Looking around our house, every other toy is pink. Going through my daughters’ wardrobe, there is a high content of pink. The pink pages stare at me from the toy catalogues. There are pink cups, plates and bowls in the kitchen. Despite our efforts to stay away from pink, we are buried in pink stuff!!! I totally understand what British social enterprise, Pink Stinks, is going on about. Their campaign challenges the culture of pink to overhaul the gender stereotypes.

I was most interested to read their Early Learning Centre Report of December 2010 as part of their Emergency Learning Campaign. It can be read on the Pink Stinks home page. ELC have made improvements on gender stereotyping. Impressively enough, this campaign has managed to change the language used in ELC catalogues. Moreover, it has changed the way dressing up and role play is sold. Girls are no longer in passive roles and are portrayed as vets, firefighters and doctors costumes. A positive image for our children.

I am not against the colour pink; in fact as a colour,  I quite like it. However, the stereotypes associated with the colour are somewhat dismaying and need to be addressed.

As children look through catalogues and see adverts, they need to see girls and boys playing with all toys. Thomas the Tank Engine can be as much fun for girls as for boys.


p.s. a big thank you to one of Chatterboxes who sent in this report.



8 Comments to “The Pink Stinks Campaign”

  1. Hi Bunty,

    Interesting campaign. The ELC is not unfortunately a shop I visit often only when I have to buy love from by nieces. Why did the ELC wait until 2010 to portray girls as vets/doctors? Dress up clothes have been available probably as long as plastic has been around so perhaps it’s not the stereotyping but the way children are raised that is more important, i.e. the images they see of women around them and how much power and influence they have. I do agree that catalogues and even toy sections like in Harrods are infuriatingly gender stereotyped and confusing for children. One of my little nieces told me that women couldn’t join the army. She is only 6 and I explained to her that women could do what they wanted to which I think may have confused her a little but I will reaffirm that message the next time I see her. I don’t know where she got that information but children hear everyone’s conversations whether they are meant to or not and they remember EVERYTHING!

    My mum bought us loads of doctor dress up toys in the vain hope that one day one of us would become inspired but we were also bought dolls, lego, scalextric, computer games – nothing was according to gender but what we took an interest in. I think if toys, colours and games are not made into a big deal then children develop their own natural tastes.

    Campaigns are all very good but people should start their own campaings in their own houses and not wait for national ones.


  2. I completely agree with you here – I remember making a formal complaint in a toy shop once (doesn’t happen v often) as the whole shop was split in two .. pink for girls on one side that had dolls, irons, kettles, nurses outfits and a blue side for boys with lego, dinosaurs and cars etc.

    I told them that I was a tomboy when I was a child and my mum ensured that I didn’t feel weird about being interested in “boy” toys – to the extent that she would inform people in advance that I did not want dolls and dresses, I wanted footballs as presents. I grew up in the 80s – I do not expect to have to go to these sorts of measures for my nieces and nephews.

    Why do girls love pink so much? My niece loves it – EVERYTHING is pink, despite her mum not liking the colour. It must be marketing (little children are just little consumers) and I agree, some of the connotations still remain. Girls are pink and lovely and fluffy. Boys are naughty and have more fun.

  3. p.s. Bubbly – I certainly hope you will not be telling your niece she can join the army. Heaven forbid !

  4. I was having this conversation with friends at dinner last night and as children, there seemed to be less genderisation of toys and marketing. There was the Barbie and Ken thing but really what else was there or am I missing something. I had a cricket bat, rolling pins and kitchen stuff, piano, scalextric, carem board etc….
    These days everything is either pink or blue.
    Bubbly you are right, campaigns should begin at home but national campaigns are important to get messages across on a grander scale and make major industries pay attention. Retailers and marketeers do have a responsibility to convey positive messages, especially as they are heavily in our lives.

  5. I heard a program on Radio 4 about this. Apparently, all children prefer the colour red. So why not just make one set of everything and colour it all red to make it unisex?

  6. I took my girls to a dancing class today. There was an imagination section. The boys were superheroes who could do all sorts of fun things and girls princesses who had to learn to courtsey and wave. The sexist stereotypes are everywhere. Why couldn’t the girls be superheroes too? The teacher asked all the boys what hero they wanted to be and didn’t ask the girls even what kind of princesses they wanted to be. I found this exclusion and differentiation really uncomfortable. I was not impressed and had to express my disappointment.

  7. Honestly I am shocked at what I am reading Bunty – this is it isn’t it – girls are supposed to be precious and precocious and boys have fun!

    I’m glad to hear you complained.

    I know this is slightly off subject but I recently complained in a bar in the city – I was there for happy hour cocktails and the advert was a naked cartoon woman bending over into a martini glass with erect nipples. I pointed out that everyone in the bar that was drinking cocktails was actually a woman who would not be interested in their advert but that I wouldn’t be one of them and would take my good money elsewhere

  8. Vakeel Bibi,

    I think that often all these sexist promotion takes place and unless we complain, noone is going to do anything about it. Good on you.

    A Indian restaurant near where I live had sculptures of naked women olong the bar. Was it a working boys club or an Indian family restaurant? I refused to eat there.

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