Baker-Miller Pink


The visitors' locker room at Iowa State’s Kinnick Stadium is pink – floor to ceiling bubble gum-pink. In 1979 the in-coming head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes football team, Hayden Fry, upon hearing that the colour pink made people passive, proceeded to have the room pink-washed. He did this in an attempt to unnerve visiting football teams by emasculating them. Pink, said Fry, was a “sissy colour.” In 2005 when the stadium underwent renovations not only did the locker room remain pink, its impact was increased with the addition of pink sinks, urinals and lockers. When questioned about the appropriateness of this tactic, Iowa State's official stance is that it represents a tradition, all done in good fun. Not surprisingly, others disagree. According to Minnesota attorney Jill Gaulding, a former professor at Iowa State, “It’s not okay for them to put up a banner that says it’s bad to be a girl. It’s not okay for them to build a pink locker room that conveys that same idea.” She and others believe the locker room itself is a sexist or homophobic slur.

There is a paint colour known as Baker-Miller Pink which claims to “reduce hostile, violent or aggressive behaviour.” It was developed in 1979 for a naval correctional institute in Seattle to study the impact of pink prison cells on prisoners. (The paint name comes from the institute’s directors at the time, Baker and Miller.) A follow-up report stated that, “since the initiation of this procedure on 1 March 1979, there have been no incidents of erratic or hostile behaviour during the initial phase of confinement.”

Baker-Miller Pink has gone on to adorn prison cells, psychiatric wards, youth clinics and drunk tanks. Subsequent studies on the colour's influence have shown that the calming effect only lasts for a duration of 15-30 minutes. The Maricopa County jail in Arizona had quite a different experience with their pink cells. They found inmates grew noticeably more aggressive when confined to these environments for extended periods of time. The jail was quick to switch to an alternative solution – repaint the cells a different colour and make the prisoners wear pink underwear.