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Pink Think [Paperback]

Lynn Peril
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 29 2002
From board games to beauty pageants, a smart, witty, pop-culture history of the perilous path to achieving the feminine ideal.

Deluged by persuasive advertisements and meticulous (though often misguided) advice experts, women from the 1940s to the 1970s were coaxed to "think pink" when they thought of what it meant to be a woman. Attaining feminine perfection meant conforming to a mythical standard, one that would come wrapped in an adorable pink package, if those cunning marketers were to be believed. With wise humor and a savvy eye for curious, absurd, and at times wildly funny period artifacts, Lynn Peril gathers here the memorabilia of the era —from kitschy board games and lunch boxes to outdated advice books and health pamphlets—and reminds us how media messages have long endeavored to shape women's behavior and self-image, with varying degrees of success.

Vividly illustrated with photographs of vintage paraphernalia, this entertaining social history revisits the nostalgic past, but only to offer a refreshing message to women who lived through those years as well as those who are coming of age now. 8 pages of color, 45 black-and-white illustrations.

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Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Books titled How to Fascinate Men and How to Help Your Husband Get Ahead. Hope chests. Home economics courses at the college level. Ah, womanhood. Peril, founder of the zine Mystery Date, devoted to her obsession with old etiquette and self-help books, analyzes these and other marvels in her first book. "Pink think" is "a set of ideas and attitudes about what constitutes proper female behavior," she says, and it "assumes there is a standard of behavior to which all women... must aspire." In casual, friendly language, Peril who shares tales of her own childhood pink think rebellion charts the amusing yet sad history of how women have been conditioned with a set of rules that often begins with someone telling them little girls are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice." A pop culture history of achieving the feminine ideal, the book explores everything from childhood and adolescence to marriage and the workplace. Spurred on by the "Patron Saint of Pink Think," Jayne Mansfield, pink think infiltrated frighteningly numerous aspects of women's lives from the 1940s through the '70s and was often driven by advertisements pitching girls' versions of house-cleaning supplies and feminine hygiene products that counseled women to douche regularly in order to ensure a happy marriage. In an afterword, Peril expresses her dismay at the apparent preservation of pink think today (witness the success of 1995's The Rules and 2001's The Surrendered Wife). Although her book may leave some women thinking, "OK, we've ditched the maternity girdles so now what?" it's hilariously entertaining. B&w and color illus.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Lynn Peril is the founder and editor of the online 'zine Mystery Date. She lives in Oakland, California.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Even though a baby couldn't read and she might not like the opposite sex until some time after puberty (and maybe not even then), that didn't mean she couldn't start learning how to get a date while she was still in her crib. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars a collection of pink propaganda, and nothing more Nov. 12 2003
By erica
Pink think, according to Lynn Peril, is the set of notions society holds and has held about the nature of womanhood and appropriate feminine roles. Pink think originated as early as the nineteenth century but enjoyed its most powerful era in the consumerist decades of the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's. During those years, women were sold personal grooming products, charm courses, kitchen items, and a myriad of other goods and services that purported to make a woman more feminine or to help her attract a mate. Peril's book is a collection of these items: descriptions, ad copy, and pictures fill its pages.
But "Pink Think" is little more than the sum of its parts. Its historical treatment of pink think is brief, and it barely even touches on present-day pink consumerism. The book also makes no attempt to analyze its subject matter, instead restricting itself to what amounts to a detailed list, and while the entire book is interesting, it's hard to find an impetus to continue beyond the first few chapters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for the thinking woman Nov. 2 2002
A fascinating read. The author has a bit of a hobby in collecting examples of 'Pink Think,' or, paraphernalia which encourages women to do groom themselves to be appropriately girly to fulfill their potential (i.e., how girls were brainwashed for decades that their only goals in life should be to snag a husband and to find their true happiness in motherhood).
It's enraging and yet at the same time strangely intriguing to read about books, magazines, advertisements, games, television shows, movies and more were so often geared toward steering a woman to be a certain way.
Strange details include how women were encouraged to be 'fresh' from douching with disinfectants to childhood games where the goal was to get the perfect date to how a woman only achieves true sexual satisfaction after she had fulfilled her destiny of marrying and having children. On top of that it details how girls were encouraged to always dumb themselves down in front of men to flatter their egos, and the author even provides quizzes published decades ago in magazines to test girlishness or career woman potential.
Any modern independent woman will be both shocked, amused, angered and more than likely grateful that so much progress has been made (even though we're still encouraged in many ways to continue to 'think pink'). Just open up a woman's magazine and see the advertisements for pink feminine hygiene products and diet aids, among a million other self-improvement articles. It's great to see a book like 'Pink Think,' however, to realize how far we've come along.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! Oct. 5 2002
After enjoying Lynn Perils sarcastic wit in Mystery Date, I was excited to read she had a book in the works. Lo and behold here it is.
Peril reviews highlights of advertisements and home ec propaganda from mid-century america, when gender roles were apparently our patriotic god-fearing duty to obey. Along with illustrations and reprints of such epherma, we get her commentary, which isn't as obnoxiously judgemental as it could be- instead she is just amused and continuously dumbfounded at the ploys used to develop brand loyalty from age 3 on, instill a pride in fragile, meek femininity (strapping robust heterosexuality in the males), and exploit adolescent anxiety in order to do so.
Open any womens magazine from the era and you will find page after page of ads for deoderant and listerine- all with the same message that failure to use their products might ruin your chances at MARRAIGE, the be all end all, apparently, of female life in the mid 1900s.
Lynn Peril collects and organizes the best of these ads and textbooks for you. It is up to you to make any conjectures about what they imply past and present about their place in politics and commerce in America.
The 8 color pages in the center could be put to better use, such as putting more pictures on each page, but that's really just a minor detail.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but keep this in mind: Oct. 11 2003
By Erica
This book is positively brilliant. It is likely that even the most well-educated feminist will learn new and horrifying things from Pink Think. My blood pressure went up several notches.
I would like to point out one thing, however, something which the author herself addressed: things haven't changed. In my opinion the only thing that has clearly changed dramatically are women's career opportunities, but we are still expected to keep a happy, clean home, raise children, and keep hubby sexually satisfied. While reading this book with the TV on, I was struck by the similarity between today's ads and those presented in Pink Think (cleaning products - nuff said.) Rather than coming away from this book thinking that you have it so much better than your baby-boomer mother did, allow it to open your eyes to the hilarious propoganda in the present.
I can't wait to see a book from the same author chronicling current magazine ads, dating advice books, and TV commercials.
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5.0 out of 5 stars FABULOUS! June 12 2004
This book is fantastic. For anyone interested in gender studies, women's studies, or just 50's/60's culture, this book is just great. I had read Peril's column in Bitch magazine and decided to get her book. (the column is similar to this book) I couldn't believe all of the amazing and frightening tidbits of female life in the 50s... like Lysol being sold as a douching product?? And even more disturbing was the death toll from using Lysol in such a capacity. More upsetting still was the company's reaction to these women's deaths - the women had failed to properly dilute the product and, therfore, caused their own deaths. Most of the book is not so disturbing. In fact, most of it is really charming. The kind of stuff that makes you look at bullet bras, cardigans, saddle shoes, and other icons of 50s femininity and think "wow, I've got it pretty good." A great read if not for academic purposes then for simple head-shaking humor.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! This book is a real eye-opener! A must read for women!
I read this book a few weeks ago and all I can say is WOW! I had no idea women were so stero-typed, (I'm in my early 20's, so I missed all that the book talks about). Read more
Published on June 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars sad, and awesome
My mom makes a whole lot more sense to me now.
Published on June 11 2004 by Cherie Priest
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
although i've enjoyed this book, i did not find it as fascinating as some of the other reviewers. except the part about a product that was a douche/ enema/ mouthwash all-in-one:... Read more
Published on April 18 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not Great
I was a little disappointed by this book. I found the subject matter really interesting, and Peril has done a good job gathering information from all kinds of sources. Read more
Published on March 15 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Pink Thinkers Among Us
I love the color pink, don't get me wrong. However, after reading this book, I can't look at it quite the same! Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2004 by J. Mongelli
5.0 out of 5 stars Pink think...I was impressed.
I stumbled across Ms. Peril's website once, relieved that I am not the only person in the world who collects old home-ec and charm books :-) I got this out of the library, not... Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2004 by Fanshawe
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
It is what I saw to be a modern "Feminine Mystique". A very insightful book on the media's effect on women and how impactful society affects females to the point that a... Read more
Published on Dec 14 2003 by Jennifer M.
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be on every woman's bookshelf
This book is a true gem! It's rare to find a book that tackles such subject matter without hitting you over the head with a heavy dose of feminism. Read more
Published on July 5 2003 by ugagirl
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pink Jello Mold of Femininity
This book is genius! It walks a fine line between rationally exploring the history of social expectations for girls and reporting the horror contained within, without ever giving... Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2002 by Mimi Pond
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