Though it’s certainly here now, pink didn’t stabilize as a girls-only color until sometime in the 1950s. During that decade, pink was the in-style color for bathrooms in residential homes. Notice that this ad, sent in by Penny R., features a boy in a pink bathroom with no threat of emasculation:
Pam Kueber, at Retro Renovation, estimates that:
…some 5 million pink bathrooms went into the 20 million+ homes built in the United States from 1946-1966… 1 in 4 — at minimum — mid-century homes had a pink bathroom.
She quotes a 1958 Electrical Merchandising that said: “If forced to pick one color as leading this year, most industry men say pink is tops.”
Pink is so strongly associated with women now that it hardly seems appropriate for a family bathroom. Kueber bemoans that home owners are taking sledge hammers to pink tiles and encourages us to preserve the bathrooms because we all look excellent in pink-tinted light.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.