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Why Girls Deny Pink

Interactive Research Project by Janelle Thornton



A common phenomena seen in young girls is a sudden change in their feelings about feminity. The color pink now seems "too much" and boys like girls who also play sports.

High School centred movies showcase girly girls as mean and dumb with the "other" girl becoming the main focus.



But let's deep dive further into what a girly girl even is and if aesthetics like the "clean girl" and the 'Barbie' movie start a reclamation of the girly girl.

"Growing up, Pink was always my favorite color, but I think I was scared to admit it. In fear of being called a girly girl." - Anonymous girl 1

"Growing up, my favorite color was always pink but, when I remember probably around the age 6, I had a hatred for the color pink. I would add other colors to my list of favorite colors like green, but really it was just pink." - Anonymous girl 2

Girly Girl Defined

"Girly girl is a term for a girl or woman who presents herself in a traditionally feminine way. This may include wearing pink, using make-up, using perfume, dressing in skirts and dresses, and engaging in activities that are traditionally associated with femininity, such as talking about relationships"



“I perceived girly girls as maybe a little obnoxious.” - Anonymous guy 1 “I wasn’t really a fan of girly girls, everybody would make fun of them and stuff.” - Anonymous guy 2

Many believe this started around WW1, after women started going to work in place of men. This freedom and "We Can Do It" attitude placed importance on taking on more traditionally masculine roles and placing less importance on housewife roles. Women started wearing more pants, wanting more freedom, and to many, that meant progress can only happen if women stray away from "typical female" activities as much as possible.

Where did this "anti-femininity" come from?


The first wave of feminism focused on changing voting laws and getting (white) women the right to vote. The second wave pushed the boundaries further challenging issues such as abortion, domestic violence and more. However, third wave feminism has been seen as uncohesive with no real goal. One section of women focused on how to get women higher in the work place and taking on Boss roles. This involved taking on masculine roles - the pantsuits, less focus on having children, trying to get into the "boys" club and avoid being "girly" at any costs because "girly" is being dumb. While others went the approach that girls should be allowed to do whatever, and that not every girl wants to or can be a boss. Many criticisms included that this wave of feminism could only be used by white middle class women.


"Growing up, I never wanted to be a girly girl. To me this was like a demeaning phrase which was used if a girl like demonstrated any sort of obvious feminine trait. I think this phrase is used negatively because of internal misogyny. And that woman should be embarrassed for matching stereotypically feminine molds." - Anonymous Girl 1

This form of feminism came during and after the third wave. This form seeks to allow women to embrace traditional feminine ideals while at the same time embracing traditional feminist ideals. Many women felt that they had to discard feminine things in order to be a feminist. Second wave feminism fought for the legal and social equality of women - causing women of this era to stray away from their sexuality. Many even taking on an anti-men stance and taking on male characteristics - creating the stereotype of what a feminist "looks like"Lipstick feminism seeks to showcase that you can be a feminist while still embracing feminine coded things - like the color pink, wearing heels and dresses, and embracing womanhood.

lipstick feminism

The girly girl ressurgence


"I think there’s definitely been a resurgence of the term girly girl. Trends are always changing online but there seems to be a lot more lifestyle and fashion advice that seems to cater towards all women. And being a girly girl is seen more in a positive light because you are expressing femininity, and it also seems to be uniting woman together." - Anonymous Girl 1


The 2000s had a lot of girly girl media. Like the movie, "Mean Girls or Legally Blonde which showcased a different side to women. Mean Girls did promote girly girls as self obsessed, mean, and male-centred. But at the same time, showcased girly girls as smart, powerful, and cunning. Legally Blonde set the precedant of not judging a girly girl by her appearance. The main character uses her feminity to her advantage and after first discarding her super femme appearance - realizes people will have perceptions of her no matter what, so she might as well do what makes her happy and prove people that she can succeed just like everyone else.In recent media, you see a mixture of girly girls and girls that are anything but - showcasing them both as options for young women. (Like the recent adaptation of Wednesday Addams on Netflix with the characters Enid Sinclair and Wednesday both being powerful, and smart beings while still enjoying vastly different interests.

Western Media Examples

Girly Girl Ressurgence examples

"The barbie movie made me think about childhood and that could play a role in it. And social media, could play a role in the resurgence of the girly girl. So, I think maybe there is a little bit." - Anonymous girl 3


TikTok and social media in general increased the amount of trends and how fast they come and go. This is very true with TikToks that aim to attract women. With aesthetics like the "clean girl" or the "strawberry girl" showcase women trying out different ways to present themselves and showcase a new focus on appearance and vanity. At the same time, other aesthetics keep popping up - creating the idea that as a girl you must fit into some form. Whether you are a spirtual girl, a grunge girl, a soft girl, or a clean girl. They all showcase that femininity isn't one shape and size but at the same time, can cause women to feel forgotten or alone if they don't fit into a certain aesthetic. This all may lead to new problems in the future.The stereotypical girly girl has been shown heavily on Tiktok, with accounts being made to specifically promote being a traditionally femme presenting girl, with a lot of pink, bows, skincare, and dresses. With sounds stating "I love being a woman" in the background. These videos don't show that this is the only way to be a woman, but instead promotes that it's okay to like girly things.With the recent 'Barbie' movie, we also saw woman coming together and relinquishing back to their childhood "girly" state - with all different types of woman coming together to celebrate girlhood and wearing pink to the movie.

Girly Tiktok

See more TikTok examples here

"There's the clean girl aesthetic. We’re creating them ourselves as woman. I feel like woman are creating these ideal standards for ourselves and other woman. It’s just not a real thing. It’s not what a woman really is." - Anonymous girl 2

The surge of girly girl media on TikTok and other platforms, has caused many woman/girls to reclaim the color pink. As mentioned previously many felt you wouldn't be perceived well by other women and members of the opposite sex by being girly. With the ideals that you were less powerful, less important for being femine like first wave and second wave feminism portrayed - anyone can imagine why many strayed away from the color. Even though some girls don't like pink, and that's completely okay. Those who do shouldn't feel worried about how they are perceived for liking it - which is why the resurgence of girly girls in the media can be uplifting for many young woman.

And...back to pink

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In conclusion, girls may deny the color pink from their lives at a young age because of the reminisince of first wave and second wave feminist ideals which pushes the rhetoric that you can't be a girly girl, and smart, succesful, and liked by boys. Recent western media and social media has showcased the idea of Lipstick feminism and a ressurgence of traditional feministic characteristics being showcased in a positive manner.








‘Pink is for girls, blue is for boys’ exploring brand gender identity in children’s clothing, a post-evaluation of British retailer John Lewis (ut.edu)

Femmephobia: The Role of Anti-Femininity and Gender Policing in LGBTQ+ People’s Experiences of Discrimination | Sex Roles (springer.com)

Full article: Femininity, science, and the denigration of the girly girl (ut.edu)

Interviewees: Anonymous Guy 1: 22 year old maleAnonymous Guy 2: 21 year old maleAnonymous Girl 1: 20 year old female college studentAnonymous Girl 2: 20 year old female college studentAnonymous Girl 3: 21 year old female college student Questions asked ->

  1. When you think of a woman or girl what initially comes to mind?
  2. When you were younger, how did you perceive girly girls? (will define girly girl to those that need it)
  3. How do you perceive girly girls now?
  4. How do you feel about the color pink?
  5. Do you stay away from that color? If so, why?

Questions for the guys:

1. What does being a woman mean to you?2. How do you feel about the term girly girl? a. Why do you think that phrase is used negatively?3. Growing up, how did you feel about the color pink? 4. How do you feel about the color now? 5. Do you think there’s been a resurgence of the “girly girl”? If so, why? a. Do you think this is positive? Why or why not?

Questions for the girls: