October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and along with Pink for October we're encouraging creative people to turn their websites pink for the month. The aim is to raise awareness of breast cancer and support those organizations making a difference to find a cure and support those living with breast cancer.
Psychologically, pink has been judged the 'sweetest' color
- Vargas 1986:144
To celebrate this event I'm going to take a look at the colour pink and consider the cultural and psychological meaning associated with it. I will also be taking a look at some effective uses of pink for websites and a selection of pink based colour palettes to provide a bit of inspiration if you are turning your site pink for October.
Pink in many cultures has come to mean girl. It's been attached to the logic that says 'pink for a girl and blue for a boy'. The exact historical occurrence of this seems to point to after World War II. These 2 quotes shed some light on the history of the link between pink standing for a girl.
The preferred color to dress young boys in was pink! Blue was reserved for girls as it was considered the paler, more dainty of the two colors, and pink was thought to be the stronger (akin to red). It was not until WWII that the colors were reversed and pink was used for girls and blue for boys...
- Quote from Dress Maker Magazine Found via google answers
A further comment brings into focus the potential reasoning behind why the change in cultural meaning for pink came about.
Battleship gray, navy and military khaki ruled during World War II. But once the war ended, so did the somber tones that reflected those serious years of deprivation, and color made a comeback. Having replaced men in wartime industries, Rosie the Riveter of the '40s returned to being Susie Homemaker in the '50s. Reflecting the "pink-is-for-girls-mom-in-the-kitchen-father-knows-best" mentality, she was admonished to "think pink" â€“ to wear pink lipstick, drive a pink car, or buy pink household appliances.
- Color Symbolism and Trends Found via google answers
Pink has a range of cultural meanings beyond the more western one of 'pink for a girl'. Pink in Native American cultures symbolises work and creativity. In Asian cultures it often means marriage where it's more closely linked to the western meaning.
Pink is the color of romance and a friend tells me that the girl with the pink dress at the party is the one who is selected for each dance
- Alfred Carl Hottes
Pink has become a feminine colour associated with pretty things and the glamourous when used in stronger shades. In recent years pink has seen a resurgence in male fashion but it's associations still link back to more girly connotations. As a colour pink is a softer and less harsh form of red - it means love where red means passion.
Pink causes the hypothalamus to signal the adrenal glands to slow their secretions, thus reducing heart rate and blocking anger
- Brain/Mind Bulletin (reported in Science Digest, Nov./Dec., 1980, p. 26)
Pink has a very wide range of shades and the lighter ones can be seen as meaning tenderness. subtleness, youth and light. At the other end a 'hot pink' can stand for playfulness, glamour, sensuality and vibrancy. Adding pink as an accent colour with black or grey can give a sophisticated mood. It's a colour you have to be a little careful with as too weak can convey feelings of weakness compared to when used effectively it is a strong mood enhancer. Pink often really is a love it or hate it colour. We are drawn to natural coloured food and studies have been done where pink was used to suppress the appetite - it seems pink is an unappetizing colour despite it's positive links. It also provides a sense of peace when used environmentally and calms in the gentler shades.
Turning your site pink is something you should do carefully due to the various meanings and preferences people have for and against pink. Some colours of pink simply don't work well on websites and detract the eye so badly you quickly leave the site. Here are 4 examples of pink sites (source Design Meltdown)
When looking for inspiration of what shades to use turning your site pink you can't get better than the wide range of palettes on this site. Here are just a few of the pink palettes:
To help support breast cancer research and awareness, create a pink inspired color palette anytime in the month of October and tag it with "BreastCancerSupport" and COLOURlovers will donate $1 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
About the Guest Author, Tammie Lister
Tammie is an experienced designer and developer who has worked for a range of media companies all over the UK. She also blogs at Diary of a website about design and the web.