Cover image for Pink think : becoming a woman in many uneasy lessons
Pink think : becoming a woman in many uneasy lessons
Peril, Lynn.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [2002]

Physical Description:
x, 235 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ1221 .P445 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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period artifacts, Lynn Peril gathers here the memorabilia of the era --from kitschy board games and lunch boxes to outdated advice books and health pamphlets--and reminds us how media messages have long endeavored to shape women's behavior and self-image, with varying degrees of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.

Author Notes

Lynn Peril is a secretary and the author of Pink Think, College Girls, and Swimming in the Steno Pool. She lives in Oakland, California.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Oct. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

From freshmen beanies, dress codes, and strict college rules to sex education, husband hunting, graduation, and beyond, Peril (Pink Think), founding editor of the Internet magazine Mystery Date, has written a witty, nostalgic retrospective about a cultural icon-the 20th-century college girl. Beginning with an overview of the development of higher education for women, Peril tells a story that includes the life of the new girl on campus, the collegiate look women strove for, the strict campus rules by which they lived, their courses of study (whether the development of intellect or essential domestic skills), and life after college. Combining women's history with a study of popular culture, Peril identifies and examines the sexualized dual vision of the college girl as both four-eyed geek and campus sex kitten. While the majority (58 percent) of college graduates today are women, ambivalence about educational equity endures. Interspersed with vivid photos, as well as examples of advertisements, pamphlets, and posters, this fun, informative, and insightful read is recommended for public and academic libraries.-Elizabeth M. Wavle, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.