April 16, 2013
I was driving to Michael’s the other day, and heard a fascinating report on NPR. The author of a new book called Drunk Tank Pink, Adam Alter, was discussing with Ira Foster how hidden currents, from reactions to color to our attraction to certain letters of the alphabet, affect our behavior and thoughts in significant ways.
The term “drunk tank pink”, I just learned from this website Color Matters, is the name that was given to the color that was used in jail cells to calm violent prisoners. It was discovered that this hue (R:255, G:145, B:175) had a calming influence, even affecting a person’s heart rate, but could then create adverse effects after about 15 minutes of being subjected to it.
Then there’s the story about the head football coach at the University of Iowa who painted the opposing team’s locker room pink to weaken their performance on the field. Rumor has it that the visitors would cover everything with newspaper as best they could before entering the locker room to derail this bubblegum assault.
So naturally I began to think about pink in a new way…little girls clothed in pink, sleeping inside pink walls, chewing on pink plastic giraffes. Do we push this pacifying color onto them or is it a biological attraction?
A few years ago I blogged about this project by South Korean artist JeongMee Yoon on Parents magazine’s Goodyblog. Starting with her 5-year old daughter Yoon conducted a documentary-esque study of children and their possessions. She orderly arranged their belongings, from clothing to pencils to books, in their bedrooms. The resulting photographs are astounding. The diptych is of a set of twins that both started out in the pink world, and then went their separate ways to pink and purple.
I am usually not drawn to pink for my 1-year-old daughter Sommer and much of what she wears is hand-me-downs from her brother (she survived the winter being mistaken for a boy in a navy-blue coat). I’m curious to see how it all shakes out; if one day, she’ll be fighting to paint her half of the room blush or bashful.