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Pink, white and blue in the workaday world

By Debra Dobbins

I found The Daily Sentinel today a bit unsettling. Not because of the news, which often can be unsettling, but because of the background color throughout the entire paper: pink.

To acknowledge the beginning of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, today’s edition is printed on pink paper. That means that color photographs also appear on pink paper, which concerned our staff photographers a bit. I think they’ll be relieved when their pictures once again show up on regular newspaper stock.

For quite some time, pink has symbolized girls or women, and blue has symbolized boys or men. While many decry this symbolism as sexist, it seems entrenched in our culture.

There are even pink-collar jobs, such as secretarial work, for which women have been traditionally hired.

Men who prefer working with their hands and/or men who have decided not to pursue higher educations hold blue-collar jobs, such as construction work.

Some feminists argue that women should at least go after blue collar jobs, because swinging a hammer often commands a better hourly wage than typing a memo.

White-collar jobs are office jobs that are often, but not always, held by people with higher educations.

Whatever the color of our collars, however, we all live in dread of the pink slip. This Americanism means a notice to an employee that his or services are no longer required. “Getting the pink slip” is a euphemism for “you’re fired.” (See July 20 entry for more on euphemisms.) It comes from the "use of pink paper as the employee’s carbon of a dismissal notice,"  according to Webster’s.

Today, I am grateful for my family, job and health. Today, I am also mindful of the need to get a mammogram whenever my doctor recommends one. It is, after all, a vital way to stay “in the pink.”


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