Popular Color Myths Busted!

A few weeks ago I received a call from a writer at the Huffington Post. She was interviewing color experts about how different colors affects us.  You can read the article Here.  She asked me if I knew about the study that indicated the color Pink calmed and pacified criminals. Well it so happens that I did know about the study because when I attended Leatrice Eiseman’s color class this past January, she was intent on clearing up several popular color myths. One of these myths is that Pink calms down prisoners.



The (Pink is for girls) color stereotyping began in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s when clothing manufacturers began assigning the color Pink to little girls and the color Blue to little boys. Blue was marketed to boys in order to show support for the soldiers who were marching off to war in blue uniforms. Pink became the default color for girls as it represented softness, sugar and spice.  It was falsely assumed that little boys dressed in Pink would become weak and girly.

As laughable as this all seems today the myth still persists. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona dresses State prisoners in bright pink garb believing they will become passive and cooperative…like girls??  The fact is, this myth has been busted!

What studies show is that when unruly prisoners are put into bright Pink holding cells they do indeed calm down; for about 5 minutes. They are initially surprised and shocked by the unconventional bright Pink color. After a few minutes though the shock value wears off and they return to their original unruly behavior.

Leatrice also busted a few more color myths.

The color Yellow causes babies to cry. This is just plain silly. Long story how this myth was started but it is just simply NOT true.

crying baby wearing Yellow

crying baby wearing Yellow

The color Orange is a cheap color. Back in the 50’s ans 60’s  Orange was perceived as a “cheap” color but this is certainly not true today. This year Orange has reached it’s highest form of respect by being named Pantone’s 2012 color of the year.



The color BLUE should never be used in a kitchen or around food. This myth says we loose our appetite around the color blue. …REALLY??  I don’t know about you but I sure think I could eat in this kitchen.

Blue Kitchen by Diamondbarratta Design

Blue Kitchen by Diamondbarratta Design

or this beautiful turquoise one designed by Tobi Fairley.

Tobi Fairley

Tobi Fairley kitchen

So how about you?  Have you heard any of these color myths?  Did you believe they were true?

8 Responses to Popular Color Myths Busted!
  1. kristie@thedecorologist Reply

    Congratulations on your interview – going to go check it out now! I’ve heard that “hospital green” was used because it was thought to be soothing to ill patients. Now people associate with hospitals and don’t want it in their homes! I actually love that retro hospital green!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Kristie you are absolutely right about the “hospital Green”. It was used everywhere in the 60’s and became known as “institutional green”. It got a bad rep. but is having a new life as one of those retro colors that is coming back into fashion.

  2. Sheila Zeller Reply

    Congratulations on the interview, Linda! Colour is so fascinating, because it’s so personal. I think the biggest thing is getting people to embrace colour rather than being afraid of it, and these old ‘tales’ contribute to the fear factor. Nice to see them being revisited and course corrected! 🙂

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Sheila! I think things are very slowly changing regarding folks acceptance of color. Even though I have not been doing this all that long I have seen a shift away from the beiges and neutrals. I live in very conservative part of the country so if I am seeing it I assume other parts of the country are embracing color as well.

  3. Kelly Reply

    Great interview! I hope it brings you even more design and color work.I love Tobi Fairley’s kitchen!! I love everything she does actually. Beautiful!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks for the kind words Kelly and yes, I love Tobi’s work too!

  4. Susan Siefer Reply

    Congrats on the interview Linda. It’s great you can share your color expertise. Also, it’s fun to break the color myths and do what feels right! After all we feel color as much as we see color.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Susan. It is so true, color affects us even if we aren’t consciously aware of it.

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