I am in Boston for the Social Studies History Association conference, where I gave a paper on (surprise!) the history of pink as a gender signifier. Dominique Grisard
, a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago, organized the (amazing) panel on girls as consumers and gave a paper drawn from her current research on pink. It's part of her own book-length project, "Pink. En/Gendering a Color", which can't be published soon enough. In it, she will bring a more theoretical consideration of pink"s complicated symbolism from a transnational perspective. The morsel she offered at SSHA was a tasty preview. Looking at Jenna Lyons and her son's pink toenails
, Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter
and the movement to accept gender nonconforming boys
, Dominique observed the following (my paraphrasing):
When princess boys adopt stereotypical signifiers of femininity, it is defended as performing their authentic selves. When girlie girls embrace the same signifiers, it is critiqued as adopting an artificial construction imposed by consumer culture.
So which is it?