in the pinkな人の健康状態は?「色」にまつわる歴史やフレーズ【Small Talk】


Thoughts on Colors(色について思うこと)

Color Coding?

“Margaret, could we ask you a question?” Surprised, I looked up. One of the Korean students in my Japanese class, accompanied by her two friends, had approached me. Our final class had just ended, and I was packing up my things to head home. “We would like to know how old you are,” she continued shyly. “The colors you wear are for someone in her 20s, but we think you might be older ...” I tried hard not to laugh. “Actually, my parents have been visiting me,” I said, “and I’m wearing one of my mom’s dresses today. She’s 69!” Up until that point, it had never occurred to me that colors could be attached to a person’s age! What? The colors one wears are not connected to your personal preference or what actually looks good on you but how many times the sun has gone around the earth in your lifetime? (This happened a long time ago – my first time in Japan – but I still remember how I felt that day.)

Now that I’m older, I know well that color associations are highly influenced by age along with cultural background. When I wore a favorite yellow sundress when I lived in Mexico, my friends there jokingly told me that only crazy people and those with very strong characters wore that color. I was neither! I just liked the color. (Well ... maybe a little crazy.)




Pink for Boys!

And, of course, there’s gender! When you think of it logically, isn’t it a little strange how we attribute male and female qualities to the way light hits a surface? It turns out that a lot of it has to do with society and marketing. For example, these days, pink is for girls and blue is for boys, but it used to be the other way around. A little hard to believe, right? But it’s true.

In times gone by, at least in North America, both young boys and girls were dressed in white dresses until the age of 6. It was just practical. White material was cheaper than dyed material and could be bleached easily to keep the outfits looking clean. You could recycle the same outfits for all your children. And then ... marketers began realizing that they could double their money by selling separate clothes for girls and boys. An 1893 article in The New York Times stated that you should "always give pink to a boy and blue to a girl." Pink was seen as a relative of the passionate, aggressive red, i.e, appropriate for boys and too “harsh” for girls. So blue, considered a gentler color, the color of the sea and sky, was assigned to girls. By 1927, U.S. department stores were strongly pushing parents to dress their boys in pink.

So how did things reverse like they have? Some people blame Marilyn Monroe’s wearing of a pink gown in the 1953 movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Others put the blame on a sparkling pink dress worn by Mamie Eisenhower, the wife of the U.S. president, at the 1953 inaugural ball. Pink was the first lady’s favorite color. Both of these women were seen as feminine ideals. Around that time, there was an explosion of consumer goods and advertising, and pink became the default color for women’s things.

Maybe the consumer world has often divided up the colors for men and women, but in the real world, we are all individuals! I know that society and tradition are very important, but to me, it feels a little spooky to immediately put a child into either blue or pink clothes. It is almost as if we are writing a script for their lives.






Color Psychology

Colors really do color the way we see the world. They can even change the way we act. In fact, as early as 4,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians recorded using “color cures,” including painted rooms or sunlight streaming through crystals, as forms of therapy. Apparently, color influences perceptions that are not obvious, such as the taste of food – something that marketers know very well!

Colors can communicate ideas and emotions that are hard to describe. I am sure we have all had “the blues” at times, and who hasn’t been angry enough to “see red”? If so much wasn’t connected to society and culture, the use of colors would be like a universal language!

Can you imagine a world without color? What a dismal world that would be! Let’s not take colors for granted. Oh, and as Cindi Lauper would say, let’s not be afraid to show our true colors! They’re beautiful.






Color Coding?

accompanied by ~~が同伴する、~に付き添われる
color association色彩連想

Pink for Boys!

the other way around(状況が)逆で、あべこべに
inaugural ball就任舞踏会

Color Psychology

the bluesブルーな気分、憂うつ
see red激怒する
take ~ for granted~を当然のことと思う


These are just a few of the countless number that exist. Use them to add color to your conversations!(これらは無数に存在するうちのほんの一部です。あなたの会話に彩りを加えるために使ってみてください!)

green with envy(ひどくねたんで、うらやましがって)

Use this when you are extremely jealous or envious about something. “Elizabeth has a great new job that requires her to visit several European countries. I am so green with envy!”


paint the town red(飲んで浮かれ騒ぐ、大いに飲み歩く)

This means to go out and celebrate in a lively and extravagant manner. “I got the promotion and I’m now ready to take my friends out and paint the town red!”


out of the blue(思いがけなく、突然)

This means something has happened unexpectedly or without any warning. “Out of the blue, I was fired by my manager. I am still in shock.”


once in a blue moon(めったに~ない)

This phrase refers to something extremely rare in occurrence. ”Once in a blue moon, my wife cooks a nice dinner for me!” By the way, a real blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month.

このフレーズは、極めて稀にしか起こらないことを指します。例:「めったにないんだけど、妻は素晴らしい夕食を作ってくれることがあるんだ!」 ちなみに、本当のブルームーンとは、暦の上では月の2度目の満月のことです。


This phrase is used to describe someone caught in the act of doing something wrong. “The shoplifter was caught red-handed by the security guard.”



A black-and-white situation is one that is clear and simple – and easy to understand. It is most often used in the negative – because situations rarely are black and white! “Whether to rent or buy is far from a black-and-white issue.”


gray area(グレーゾーン、どちらに属するとも言えない領域)

In contrast to the above, a gray area is a situation that is not clear or where the rules are not well-defined. “The issue of allowing smartphones in the classroom is a gray area right now.”

上記とは対照的に、gray areaとは、はっきりしていなかったり、ルールが十分に定義されていない状況を指します。例:「教室でのスマートフォン使用許可に関する問題は現在、グレーゾーンです)

in the pink(とても元気で、絶好調で)

If you say someone is in the pink you mean that person is in good health and high spirits. “She is completely over her illness and is now in the pink!”

「誰かがin the pinkだ」と言う場合、その人が健康で元気であることを意味します。例:「彼女は病気を完全に克服し、今は絶好調だ!」

white lie(たわいない[罪のない]うそ)

This refers to a harmless or trivial lie told to avoid hurting someone's feelings. “I told a little white lie and said she looked gorgeous.”


英語コラム執筆:Margaret Stalker

英語を学び、英語で学ぶための語学情報ウェブサイト「ENGLISH JOURNAL」が、英語学習の「その先」にあるものをお届けします。 単なる英語の運用能力にとどまらない、知識や思考力を求め、「まだ見ぬ世界」への一歩を踏み出しましょう!


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