On April 13th, the Minister of Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center, Chen Shih-Chung (陳時中), along with four other health officials, wore pink face masks at a press conference as a statement against gender stereotypes, addressing the issue of school bullying among male students resulted from wearing pink face masks.
Amid the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, face masks in various colors and patterns, such as pink, yellow, leopard print and cherry-blossom print, are being rationed across the country, and citizens have no say in the kind of face masks they purchase. Though a pleasant surprise for some, stories about male students refusing to wear pink face masks due to fear of peer pressure are increasingly concerning.
Chen discussed the relevance of his pink medical mask during the conference. “It is fine for a man to wear pink – in fact, pink is a good color,” said Chen. “The Pink Panther used to be my favorite cartoon as a kid!” He later on took to Facebook to explain his intentions and emphasize that masks in any colors are equally great.
His message prompted a wave of support among political figures as well as business leaders. President Tsai-Ing Wen (蔡英文) posted on Instagram urging citizens to avoid perceiving colors as gender signifiers because “all masks, regardless of their colors, should be considered appropriate and suitable.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also tweeted that gender equality lies at the heart of Taiwan’s values.
As observed by Joyu Wang, the social media editor of The Wall Street Journal, many Taiwanese organizations and brands changed their logos into pink in support of Chen’s message. Through a very simple gesture, Chen was able to address the social impact of COVID-19 and encourage many to follow suit. Using the hashtag #ColorHasNoGender (#顏色沒有性別), the Taiwanese community is fully engaged in efforts to combat gender stereotypes associated with the color pink, setting off a “pink wave” across the nation.