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The Evolution of Stereotypical Color-Coded Childhoods

The Pink & Blue Project (2005 – ongoing) is a three-part series of images created in order to explore gender stereotypes through the use of color.

Yoon photographed young boys and girls she met in New York, New Jersey, and South Korea. Some of her subjects were the children of friends and others she met randomly, sometimes on the subway in New York.

To prepare for the photoshoot, Yoon would spend up to to eight hours in the child’s bedroom arranging their items. Smaller objects were placed to the front, larger in the back. Clothes were hung on the wall using Scotch tape.

Hojune, above, photographed with his blue things in Seoul in 2007.

Hojune, photographed again in 2011, as part of the Pink & Blue Project II. Yoon revisited her original subjects a third time in 2015 for the latest installment of the series.

Twins Lauren and Carolyn photographed in New York in 2006.

Yoon was intentional with her subjects, positioning each child in the center of a sea of monochromatic stuff like small buoys.

Yoon explains that the sisters further diverged in color preference as they grew older. Above, the twins at home in 2015.

Yoon was inspired to create the series when her daughter, age five, insisted on an all-pink uniform. Yoon encountered this phenomenon in children across all countries.

Yoon spent 15 to 30 minutes photographing each child, sometimes longer with breaks. “The subjects’ expressions and poses are very important elements in my pictures,” Yoon explains. “I ask each model to sustain a blank, neutral expression to underline an ‘objectification’ of each child.'”

Yoon used a 6×6 medium format Hasselblad camera. She used five rolls of film for each shoot, sometimes more for younger children who had trouble staying still.

With each iteration of the series, Yoon noticed a looser association of color with gender. But, she says, the fundamental color coding often remains.

As Yoon describes, the third installment of The Pink & Blue Project is “the culmination of a decade-long investigation of color coding as associated with gender.” Above, Tess in 2006.

Tess, three years later, at home in New York in 2009.


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