To all the grown women reading this right now, take a moment to travel back in time, back to the days of time-outs, playgrounds and nap times. Was your time as a growing girl sprinkled with an inordinate amount of the color pink? For many young women, pink was a contentious topic in the early years of life, at least as far as colors go. Whether you loved the unabashed hue with a burning passion or loathed it to your core, odds are your miniature self had some very strong opinions on rose, salmon, coral and all other related shades.
In her photography series "My Favorite Color Was Yellow," photographer Kirsty Mackay explores what she calls the "pinkification" that so many young girls face. Although pink itself is seemingly innocuous, the inundation of the ultra-feminized color supplants a child's agency and personal choice at such a young age.
"I was aware of the huge presence of pink in the children’s market, but it was only when my daughter was born, that I became interested as a subject for my work," Mackay explained to HuffPost. "Even though my family had not chosen to buy into pink, we were still inundated with all things pink. My daughter had so many pink clothes, that I could do a whole pink wash. It was then I started to realize how powerful this had become."
"My own personal experience of growing up in the seventies also gave me a different perspective on ‘pinkification’. Many people take the association of pink and femininity for granted and don’t question it, however I remember a time when childhood was very different. For me growing up, blue was my favorite color. I was dressed in boiler suits and dungarees, played with Lego and Mecanno. The pink phenomenon has only grown in line with consumerism since the 80’s. To me it looked like we had taken a step backwards and it contradicts what many parents want for their children."
Mackay captures the color pink through a surreal, candy-coated lens, at once haunting and heavenly. Her young subjects appear wrapped in the color and all its connotations, as phones, sweaters and even globes are cast in in a rosy glow.
"Through the process of photographing and talking to all the girls in the book. I see them: being dictated to, there is a lack of choice and personal freedom, and it’s yet another barrier for them to break through. I think it’s easy to overlook this issue, as perhaps it’s not clear cut and seems harmless, so I’d like other people to consider it more carefully. I’m always reading about the lack of female politicians, scientists, CEO’s etc, well its starts here with young girls and pink is part of that problem."