Thinking Pink: A History of Products “For Her”

Remember those BIC For Her pens that inspired hilarious customer reviews a while back? Well, they weren’t the first pens to be marketed to small-handed, weak-fingered women.

Paper Mate women's pen ad
This 1962 ad has me conflicted because 1. Those are some stylish pens, and 2. I really would like a world cruise and a castle in Spain…

The surprisingly awesome Collectors Weekly blog (I say surprisingly because I’m not a collector but I love their history posts on everything from Girl Scouts to Kim Gordon’s wardrobe) has a post up on the history of pink pens, cars, phones, and everything else marketers can slap a coat of paint on. In “Girlie Pens, Again? Why Ordinary Things Go Pink” Lisa Hix explores the reasons behind Pink Think, when “mid-century manufacturers realized that if you take an ordinary object, turn it pink, and put the word ‘Lady’ in front of the name, then you’ve created a product ‘for women’ that can be sold for more money.”

We’ve covered the “pink for girls and blue for boys” phenomenon plenty of times on the blog and in the magazine, but it’s interesting to read about the ways pink has been used to target adult women over the past century. The way we view the color changes over time, too. In 1955, pink was the “it” hue for people of all genders, and Elvis made the pink cadillac famous. Nowadays we aren’t likely to see a rose-colored vehicle on the road no matter who’s driving it.

pink cadillac
Regardless of your gender, this is a sweet ride.

Painting stuff pink, saying it’s for “ladies,” and charging more for it might be a tired practice, but that doesn’t mean it’s on its way out. Check out a slide show of new and old pink products for women, and read the full Collectors Weekly post, here.

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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