Jeongmee Yoon

SeoWoo and Her Pink Things, 2006. Image Credit: © Jeongmee Yoon

My current work, The Pink and Blue Projects are the topic of my thesis. This project explores the trends in cultural preferences and the differences in the tastes of children (and their parents) from diverse cultures, ethnic groups as well as gender socialization and identity. The work also raises other issues, such as the relationship between gender and consumerism, urbanization, the globalization of consumerism and the new capitalism.

The Pink and Blue Projects were initiated by my five-year-old daughter, who loves the color pink so much that she wanted to wear only pink clothes and play with only pink toys and objects. I discovered that my daughter’s case was not unusual. In the United States, South Korea and elsewhere, most young girls love pink clothing, accessories and toys. This phenomenon is widespread among children of various ethnic groups regardless of their cultural backgrounds. Perhaps it is the influence of pervasive commercial advertisements aimed at little girls and their parents, such as the universally popular Barbie and Hello Kitty merchandise that has developed into a modern trend. Girls train subconsciously and unconsciously to wear the color pink in order to look feminine.

Ethan and His Blue Things, 2006 . Image Credit: © Jeongmee Yoon

Pink was once a color associated with masculinity, considered to be a watered down red and held the power associated with that color. In 1914, The Sunday Sentinel, an American newspaper, advised mothers to “use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.” The change to pink for girls and blue for boys happened in America and elsewhere only after World War II. As modern society entered twentieth century political correctness, the concept of gender equality emerged and, as a result, reversed the perspective on the colors associated with each gender as well as the superficial connections that attached to them . Today, with the effects of advertising on consumer preferences, these color customs are a worldwide standard.

The saccharine, confectionary pink objects that fill my images of little girls and their accessories reveal a pervasive and culturally manipulated expression of femininity” and a desire to be seen. To make these images, I arrange and display the cotton – candy colored belongings of several children in their rooms. When I began producing the pink images, I became aware of the fact that many boys have a lot of blue possessions. Customers are directed to buy blue items for boys and pink for girls. In the case of my eleven-year-old son, even though he does not seem to particularly like the color blue over other colors, whenever we shop for his clothes, the clothes he chooses are from the many-hued blue selection. The clothes and toy sections for children are already divided into pinks for girls and blues for boys. Their accessories and toys follow suit.

Dayeun and Her Pink Things_m
Dayeun and Her Pink Things, 2006. Image Credit: © Jeongmee Yoon

Jake and His Blue Things_m
Jake and His Blue Things, 2006. Image Credit: © Jeongmee Yoon

The differences between girls’ objects and boys’ objects are also divided and affect their thinking and behavioral patterns. Many toys and books for girls are pink, purple, or red, and are related to make up, dress up, cooking, and domestic affairs. However, most toys and books for boys are made from the different shades of blue and ? are related to robots, industry, science, dinosaurs, etc. This is a phenomenon as intense as the Barbie craze. Manufacturers produce anthropomorphic ponies that have the characteristics of young girls. They have barrettes, combs and accessories, and the girls adorn and make up the ponies. These kinds of divided guidelines for the two genders deeply affect children’s gender group identification and social learning.

As girls grow older, their taste for pink changes. Until about 2nd grade, they are very obsessed with the color pink, but around 3rd or 4th grade, they do not obsess with pink as much anymore. Usually, their tastes change to purple. Later, there is another shift. However, the original association with the color-code often remains.


18 thoughts on “Jeongmee Yoon

  1. Most of these objects in these images are plastic or synthetic fibers, all made out of petrol chemicals. One of these four year old kids has a bedroom full of more oil then a family in Nepal uses in probably a week.

  2. why do children have to have so many things? i was just at a baby shower this past weekend (yes, it was traumatizing) and my friend received so much stuff, most of which was pink. i tried to be progressive and crocheted a yellow blanket. the purpose of this gift was to keep the baby warm. i know this project was supposed to be about pink and blue and how these colors genderize (not sure if that’s a word). but by looking at the images, it also becomes about consumerism (like they mentioned briefly). our children do not need all of those things. there are other ways to stimulate their growing minds; perhaps by other human interaction or the outdoors. man, i’m going to be a horrible mother if i ever am one.

  3. holy stereotypes, batman!
    i feel that useless crap and television is no substitute for love and good parenting.
    it’s easy to turn the tv on, its easy to buy things; but karma comes back around and bites you in the ass.

  4. i agree that this deeply affected me as a kid. if i saw that another kid’s room that didn’t have blue, if he had red or something, i always got freaked out. This project makes me think about how we are affected by repetitive things in our early lives, like color.

  5. I definitely agree. We study things like this a lot in Women’s studies classes. The media and how it effects men and women, and how it effects children and how they are raised. Most people don’t realize until they actually picture a toy store with boys isles and girls isles. Boy toy isles are trucks, and trains, and action figures, and weapons, and things like that. Where girls isles are dolls, and barbies, and fake cooking things. They are subliminal messages for how children are supposed to pick their toys, and how they will essentially grow up with these messages to be a certain way.

  6. We live in a throw away culture, nothing is ever repaired; instead things are now so affordable that it is easier to purchase new items. This is highlighted in the work. The children also stand out dramatically against the candy colored environments.

  7. Studies like this scare me, because I question how to best navigate my future children through our society’s complex dysfunction. I can’t wait to have kids, but with more technology, more internet, more “plugged-in” capabilities than ever before, pressure by the media has gotten increasingly intense. I worry about these things when I think about becoming a parent some day. I think the first time it really hit me, was when I walked past a “boys” toy isle and “girls” toy isle that were positioned side by side in a Toys-R-Us. The girls isle was an overwhelming mass of pink! The boys toy isle had a bit more color distinction, but leaned towards dark hues of blue, black, green, etc… Now, if marketing just convinced my daughter her favorite color was pink, that would not be the worst thing. But, not only is everything pink in a girls world, it’s about what is pink. Make-up, Barbie dolls, baby dolls, etc… And on the reverse, I would not want to raise a son on water guns, trucks, sports, etc… When I have kids some day, I would just hope I can find a way to encourage them to be themselves and not buy into gender roles. Images like these disturb me, and I hope as a culture we can move past these ignorant, rigid ideas of what it means to be a “man” or a “woman”.

  8. To me, these photos represent what the ‘ideal’ or American dream has evolved into. People are eating up this commercialized society and have thus developed a need to accumulate wealth or status, or in this case, stuff. What these images do is literally lay it all out there, and as the viewer we’re confronted with all of this junk that we’ve accumulated. And for what? None of the pictured items (except for maybe some clothing) are needed to survive. Of course as children they don’t have any bearing on what that means, but their parents who are presumably buying most of this for them, do. I think this goes to show that most people go through life not thinking critically about what they’re buying and why, because advertising and commercialism is being propagated constantly in our society.

  9. These images present a variety of things that disturb me.

    It’s amazing that these children have so many personal possessions at such a young age. What are they learning to value when they have been given enough cheap (and probably some not so cheap) plastic toys to literally fill a room?

    The shades of pink and blue that are associated with little girls and little boys are absolutely revolting. These colors have been so closely assigned to gender, especially in young children, that people don’t even stop to see that cotton candy pink is actually a putrid color when combined with Hello Kitty fuchsia.

    As a woman, I have a strong reaction to the relationship between pink and females. I often find myself having an aversion to pink, and I’m sure it is due to the persona that has been assigned to those grown women who just LOVE all things pink. When I see women who wear pink boots, carry pink purses, and even display the word “pink” across the seats of their sweatpants, I generally assume that the depth of their personalities is still on the same level as that of a 7 year old, since they choose to dress themselves like one. I don’t hate pink altogether, but I do think it is a sad reflection of our society when a woman chooses to use pink to define herself.

  10. These two children are overtaken by their possessions. Its crazy that even children are overtaken by consumerism. Many of them want what they want, and they want it now. Do they even play with all of the things they own? These images are work well with showing children and their toys but they probably don’t even use half of them.

  11. when i first looked at this image i thought that the artist was trying to show 2 kids, a boy and girl, that have more then you could image. The room is covered with toys and clothes, any kid would love that, but when you looked at the child, they both looked sad and angry. I thought that the artist was trying to say that no matter how much we have we are never satisfied. Then i read the statement which was interesting, but also obvious. I think everyone knows that young girls love the color pink, and that boys love the color blue.

  12. This concept is very interesting and it effectively conveys a popular trend in America today. I like how the kids are included posing in blue and pink clothes. At first I could not even see the kids in the sea of pink and blue things. The kids were completely lost in their possessions, maybe that is the point.

  13. When i look at these i start to think about what is wrong with our society today and how we are becoming a solely materialistic society and basing our stature on the things we have and not who we are. Kids don’t need to have “everything” that they want to be happy or fulfilled. Even though in todays retail culture seems to think that everyone needs everything.

  14. I feel that the artist was extremely successful in portraying the overwhelming and extremely absurd aspects of consumerism. It is very scary to think that children of such a young age, via their parents. have already been brainwashed into this type of obsessive, over consuming behavior.

  15. This photograph brings attention one of the problems American society has. One word parents can’t say to there children and that word is no you can’t have that. These photographs show how commercialism has taken over our world and our bedrooms with STUFF. I think the way JEONGMEE YOON has illustrated this issue is great and shows how Americans must have everything.

  16. The amount of things these children own is overwhelming alone. And then there is the genderization that is stereotyped by color and type of items they should own. This does not seem to be just an economical/ environmental commentary, but also how we force children into gender stereotypes.

  17. Through your images, just by the shear amount of things these children have, i can see how easy it is for children to fall into these boy/girl stereotypes.

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