(I was absent during the constellation lectures in first term due to mitigating circumstances so have elected to discuss my dissertation instead)

My favourite colour is pink. It has been for all of my adult life. For me, it brings up images of riot grrrl zines, scraped knees and the artwork of Cy Twombly. For most people, this isn’t really what they tend to imagine when thinking of the colour. Most people’s minds will immediately go to things such as Barbie, the breast cancer awareness ribbon and baby girl’s blankets. There are two things that link those items together. The first is that they’re all very much gender specific to women. Barbie has continued to be on a great deal of little girls Christmas lists since its inception in 1959, the breast cancer awareness ribbon was chosen to be pink because of its feminine symbolism and baby girls are bought the colour pink to tell them apart from boys starting the day they are born. By now, you have already noticed the second similarity between those objects, they’re all advertised using the colour pink. Consumers buy into the gender stereotyping every day without even being aware of the gender specific marketing tactics being put in place. I’m a feminist, so gender has always been a significant thing to me when I think about my favourite colour. I refused to wear pink as an angst-ridden pre-teen because it was ‘too girly’, which I’m very much ashamed of looking back, and because it wasn’t ‘edgy’ enough. Today I’m able to see that pink is an incredibly edgy colour, not just for its hue, but for its history and its symbolism.

I’m choosing to do my dissertation on the colour pink as it is an incredibly interesting colour to me. It had its big insurgence during the rococo period and has now resurged in feminist modern art as a colour of strength as well as gender. The colour was originally dismissed by feminists as a colour of gender oppression, being seen as something to avoid as buying into the gender stereotyping consumer culture would also be buying into casual sexism and the idea that women were seen as not being feminine if they chose not to wear pink. However, it has now been reclaimed by feminists. Feminists have taken the idea that the colour pink represents gender oppression and have turned it on its head by proclaiming that the colour pink can be representative of more than just being dainty and fragile and that there is no shame in liking the colour regardless of its gender stereotyping. The artist Karen Hiller spoke about the colour in an interview with the Guardian stating that ‘Hot pink is feisty and grown up. In that tonal choice people are saying: ‘We’re not going to be seen as weak,’ and ‘Don’t mess with me.’

The use of the colour pink in art has always being incredibly aesthetically pleasing to me. It can be used in so many ways and to represent anything from purity and innocence to sex and pornographic content. Pink is often used in art work in a sexual way, which relates to the slang term for vagina which is ‘pink’. The colour also can be used to represent things of a more visceral nature. Some examples of the colour pink in art are:

This painting by Ramon Casas entitled Flores Deshojadas uses the colour pink to illustrate the story of a young girl being ‘deflowered’. The pink of the petals represent innocence and submission.

Kennedy James

This installation piece by the artist Kennedy James is very similar in subject matter as the pink is not only used in a sexual way by depicting bondage with the ropes being tied around the chair, but also gender. You gender the chair as having female qualities despite it being an inanimate object due to the light pink shade of the rope being used. The colour also relates to the way the chair being bondage tied is submitting. 

I also use pink a lot in my own art work. When I’m creating my art work a lot of it is very personal in nature. I tend to be very frank in my work and discuss matters such as feminism, sex and gender. The colour pink is a great way to demonstrate these ideas as it fits so well within the context of the work as well as it having so many symbolisms that the viewer will feel upon seeing the work.


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