The images here are by JeongMee Yoon, a photographer from South Korea
whose work makes visible the gender divisions that so often prevail in the bedrooms of children from the time they are born. If you search for her name, dozens of pink and blue photos will appear, pictures of children surrounded by possessions in the predominant color of their childhood. These are part of her Pink and Blue Project, which she describes as exploring:
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.Yoon explains that The Pink and Blue Project was prompted by her 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." She also has an eleven-year-old son, who chooses clothing from the blue hues "even though he does not seem to particularly like the color blue over other colors." A couple of her examples defy the stereotypes but reinforce the idea of having a "favorite color" (one of those ubiquitous questions during childhood): "Lola and Her Yellow Things" and "Steve and His Red Things".
Yoon's work with this concept was the subject of a New York Times piece in February 2008, where the tone is fairly effusive about "the wonderful world of color." (There is a slide show by that name there, too.) A blogpost at Daughter Number Three considers the more invasive implications of gender color-typing. DN3 also links to an interesting post by social psychologist Sam Sommers called "Gender Stereotypes and the Fast Food Drive-Thru." (One more reason to avoid giving your kids this terrible food.)
It all got me thinking about how much energy parents invest in their children's objects and identities, a topic Jesse Ellison touched on in her Newsweek piece, "My Parent's Failed Experiment with Gender Neutrality." Failed? Not so sure. At least her parents resisted the compulsion to crowd out her childhood with one preassigned color. There may be huge intangible benefits to that.