Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Media & Communication; College of Arts & Sciences

First Advisor

Christine Mullin

Second Advisor

Lisa Holderman

Third Advisor

Alan Powell

Abstract

When you meet a baby for the first time, and you don’t know its sex, if its wearing pink clothes, most people will automatically assume it’s a girl; or if they’re wearing blue clothes, it’s automatically a boy. The pink and blue problem is the enforcing of gender stereotypes through color, associated roles, and imagery. The root of this problem is that many people are unaware of the difference between “sex” and “gender”, and that they can be mutually exclusive. Your sex is the body you’re born with, and all the parts that come with it, while your gender is how you identify as a human being. Your sex and your gender do not have to match, though many times it’s assumed that they do when a child is born. As they develop, kids are surrounded with gendered toys, clothes, and products that continue to enforce what each gender should be: pink for girls, blue for boys. This immediately puts the child in a box, as they are given no room to figure out their gender identity for themselves. They are forced onto certain items and associations because of their sex, and shown the norm through pink and blue. For my thesis, I will be analyzing advertisements for different products, analyzing the discourse used, and using the theory of altercasting to demonstrate how this pink and blue problem has a serious impact on developmental youths.

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The Pink and Blue Problem: Altercasting in Gendered Advertising

When you meet a baby for the first time, and you don’t know its sex, if its wearing pink clothes, most people will automatically assume it’s a girl; or if they’re wearing blue clothes, it’s automatically a boy. The pink and blue problem is the enforcing of gender stereotypes through color, associated roles, and imagery. The root of this problem is that many people are unaware of the difference between “sex” and “gender”, and that they can be mutually exclusive. Your sex is the body you’re born with, and all the parts that come with it, while your gender is how you identify as a human being. Your sex and your gender do not have to match, though many times it’s assumed that they do when a child is born. As they develop, kids are surrounded with gendered toys, clothes, and products that continue to enforce what each gender should be: pink for girls, blue for boys. This immediately puts the child in a box, as they are given no room to figure out their gender identity for themselves. They are forced onto certain items and associations because of their sex, and shown the norm through pink and blue. For my thesis, I will be analyzing advertisements for different products, analyzing the discourse used, and using the theory of altercasting to demonstrate how this pink and blue problem has a serious impact on developmental youths.

 
 

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