When you speak to a little girl and ask her what her favorite color is, she'll most likely respond that her favorite color is pink. Why is it, and when did the color pink begin to have the connotation with girls and femininity?
In as early as 1918, catalogs would recommend that women dress their female children in blue because it was seen as a delicate and dainty color. Up until the end of the 19th century the Penn State football team colors were pink and black because the colors were viewed as strong and striking colors.
The association between pink and femininity only started to appear after the Second World War. Many people accredit the start of the association with First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, particularly at her husband's, President Dwight Eisenhower, inauguration. For the 1953 inauguration Mamie Eisenhower dressed in a full rhinestone studded light pink ballgown and opera gloves. She didn't choose to wear pink for a feminine reason, rather she like the way the color looked against her skin tone and blue eyes. Her inauguration gown was the antithesis of what women of the day been wearing, being that most women worked in factories during the war. Her gown served as a statement to women that they can return to more domestic roles now that the men are back from war. Mamie certainly embodied the idea of women being in the house as she was quoted saying things like "Ike runs the country. I turn the pork chops!" and "I have a career. His name is Ike."
Mamie loved the color pink so much that she actually painted the White House kitchen pink and there were so many pink furnishings during Eisenhower's time as president that the White House came to be nicknamed the "Pink Palace". Following Mamie's lead, many households started sporting pink kitchens and bathrooms with the new notion that pink means delicate.
Movie star Jayne Mansfield latched on to the color pink and the mentality that went along with it while expanding the feminine view of it slightly. Mansfield was so engrossed in the color that she even drove a pink car, married in a pink wedding gown, lived in a pink mansion, and even dyed her dogs pink.
With the influence of Mamie and Jayne, women who wore pink became connected with women who were delicate and refined. This domestication came as a stark contrast to women during the war, but now that the war was over women embraced and even craved the idea of domesticity versus the harsh factory conditions the endured.
Even women who didn't necessarily agree with the mindset that went along with the color pink, learned to either go with the fashion trend, or even use the pink connotation to their benefit. In 1963, Donna Mae Mims won a race car competition against men in a pink car and attire. She was named the "Pink Lady" so as to deflect criticism and remind people that ultimately she was just a girl like any other.
Since then some people have used the color pink to show a darker side of women, such as the excessive amount of pink with Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter, or the "Plastics" in Mean Girls. These women wear pink almost as a disguise against their true rotten selfs. On the other hand, some people choose to wear pink to show that a woman can be smart, outgoing, and beautiful without losing their femininity as shown through movies such as Legally Blonde.
So next time you speak to a little girl and she tells you her favorite color is pink she may be telling you that she is dainty and gentle, or she may be saying that she is smart and outgoing and you better watch out!