After British photographer Kirsty Mackay gave birth to her first daughter in 2006, she found her life inundated by pink. There were pink onesies, pink bibs, pink booties, and pink blankets. She didn’t buy any of these items herself, but instead received them from well-meaning friends and family.
“It was when I had enough pink clothes that I could do a whole pink wash [in the laundry], that it made me think there’s something really powerful happening here and I want to trace where it had come from,” Mackay explained recently in a Kickstarter video to raise funds for My Favourite Color Was Yellow, a book based on a series of photographs she took of young girls in their pink bedrooms in the UK. “My family is exactly the same as all these families in the book,” the photographer said. “We’re all navigating our way through this sea of pink.”
Mackay began the series soon after that first pink laundry load. She started with her daughter, her daughter’s friends, and her friends’ daughters, then expanded to photographing people she met on the street and through social media. In the images, pink surrounds girls at every turn, gracing their bedspreads, sweaters, and even cellphones. They often seem to love the color, as seems evident in one photograph showing two fuschia-swathed girls posing triumphantly on a plush pink bed.
But in other images, the girls seem less enthusiastic, as though they’ve merely accepted the color’s preeminence as a fact of life. In these instances, the color becomes not just a color, but also a symbol of all the unfair, unrealistic expectations to which society expects young females to conform. As Mackay explains, the book’s title comes from a personal memory a subject once shared — that when asked by a friend what her favorite color was, she lied and said it was pink. “The title places an emphasis on a lack of choice, and that’s really what’s at the core of the book,” she said.
Kristy Mackay’s My Favourite Color Was Yellow is fundraising on Kickstarter through February 28.
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