Created By: DragonQuestZ on September 9, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on September 9, 2013

White Means Innocence

The color white on a character can symbolize innocence and purity.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Note: Should I just limit this to "white = virginity" for now, just to solve a few issues presented?
Whenever a character (often a young girl) is meant to be pure (usually as a virgin) and innocent (usually having a sweet, if naive, nature), and that character is largely wearing the color white (although other colors can be included, especially if they also symbolize purity).

This is because in some cultures, the color is symbolic of purity. So wearing white often was meant to show at least the inherent purity of a person.

This is why European kingdoms decided that winter white ermine should be the fur of royalty, why before Pink Girl, Blue Boy kicked in, children of both sexes used to be dressed in white, since Children Are Innocent, why one of the most common form of Good Colors, Evil Colors is white for the heroes and black for the villains, and why Unicorns and Angels are often shown in white.

And showing white suddenly splashed with another color can also symbolize loss of innocence, such as with a Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress.

This is much rarer today than it used to be, but it's not quite as Discredited Trope levels.

This frequently overlaps with Woman in White (if it's meant to be an innocent lady instead of just mysterious), Princess Classic (especially before Princesses Prefer Pink became a trope), Mysterious Waif. It less often overlaps with White-Haired Pretty Girl and Man in White, but rarely overlaps with Winter Royal Lady (since wearing white for her is usually about being mysterious).

A Sub-Trope of Color Motif.

A Super Trope to Fairytale Wedding Dress (since most are still white, for the reasons of this trope), White Magician Girl (since such characters are usually innocent).

A Sister Trope to Gold and White Are Divine, True Blue Femininity (and a lot of innocent girls are shown wearing white and blue), Heavenly Blue, Shining Goodness, The Ingenue.

Compare Pink Means Feminine, Graceful Ladies Like Purple, Hair of Gold.

Contrast Light Is Not Good, Lady in Red, Woman in Black.

No listing aversions, please.


Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In Magic Knight Rayearth, Emeraude, who appears as a young girl, wears a white dress, and her duties as the Pillar of Cephiro prevent her from even falling in love. And when she suffers from Love Makes You Evil, her dress is topped by black armor.

Film
  • Belle's peasant dress in Beauty and the Beast is blue, with a white underdress and apron. Although she is shown as strong willed, it's also in the context of a pure spirit.
  • Disney's Cinderella
    • She is shown as a pure and nice person, although she mainly wore other colors, save for her wedding dress at the end.
    • The 1996 Holiday Princess doll for her is white, including the snowflakes sprinkled on it, and the fur trim.

  • In the play, and later movie, Jezebel, Julie spites her fiance by wearing a red dress to the most important dance of the season, when unmarried women were to wear white dresses.
  • The original The Wicker Man had a dark version of this trope, as their virgin sacrifice has to be robed in white.

Literature
  • The Farival twins in The Awakening are described as wearing the "Virgin's colors, blue and white, having been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin at their baptism".

Religion
  • Jesus is often depicted wearing white robes, and is portrayed as a pure being.

Video Games
  • Fiona of Nostalgia wears a white and gold dress. She is known as the "Bearer of the White Wings".
  • Fina of Skies of Arcadia wears a white and gold dress. Her demeanor is one of the most sweet and nice characters in the game.
  • Flonne, the sweet and naive angel in training in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, wears a white and blue dress. She's also so pure, that she's used as part of a plan to make peace with heaven and hell. Even as a fallen angel, her dress is still mostly white, just with the blue replaced with red.

Real Life
  • Queen Vicky decided to wear white at her wedding for this reason, thus sealing that as the official color for wedding dresses.

Community Feedback Replies: 94
  • September 9, 2012
    captainpat
    • Momo from Ballad Of A Shinigami is a white-haired Shinigami that wears a white dress. She's very kind and tries to ease the pain of both the living and the dead.

    The examples need to also go into these character's personalities.
  • September 9, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ It's not just personality though. Some examples can be when the work invokes this trope in some way. But otherwise, I agree context is needed.
  • September 9, 2012
    MrRuano
    • Mortal Kombat has Ashrah, an ascending demon who wears white as a sign of the purity she is attaining through her demon-slayings. Her goal is to become a being so pure that the Netherrealm (MK's interpretation of Hell) would eject her from it's impure lands.

  • September 9, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
  • September 9, 2012
    LOAD
    Wedding Dresses are white for this reason IIRC.
  • September 9, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Already noted in the OP. See "A Super Trope to...".
  • September 10, 2012
    MiinU

    Anime

    • Words Worth: Maria, of the Tribe of Light, wears an elegant white robe, with split seams, sandals, and sea green cloak. Despite being of the Light Tribe, who're are portrayed as the aggressors in the conflict, she's a kindhearted maiden. This is seen when she pleads with her adopted father, King Fabris, when she catches him in the act of trying to rape Sharon, one of the Shadow Tribe's top generals.
  • September 10, 2012
    Diask
  • September 10, 2012
    lexicon
    X wears white, possibly with another color, is not an example. The examples listed would need to say how she is innocent or be deleted.
  • September 10, 2012
    Dacilriel
    Web Original:

    In the storyline of Atop The Fourth Wall, when Margaret, the human form of the magic gun makes an appearance the character is dressed in white. After she died, Maragaret's hate and anger were washed away, leaving a pure, contented soul.
  • September 10, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ Did you see the second reply, where I agreed context was needed?

    ^^^ There is also Colette of Tales Of Symphonia, who wears white and blue and is a sweet and kind girl.

    ^^^^ What show is that from?
  • September 10, 2012
    MiinU
    ^@DragonQuestZ - it's from Words Worth.

    It's right there, at the beginning of the example. I didn't Wiki Word it because the main page got deleted, due to it being hentai. However, the character page is still up.

    • If you're interested, Maria is listed second, in the Tribe of Light folder.

    To expand on the example:
    • Her people have been at war with the Tribe of Shadow for over a century. She and her friend, Silverna, get captured midway through the first episode, during which, she's molested by Stallion, and subsequently raped by Astral, the Shadow Tribe's prince. Despite swearing vengence on Astral, when she mangaes to escape, and finds her father about to rape Sharon, she pleads with him to stop and let Sharon go, even though she was one of the Shadow Tribe's top generals.
      Maria: (covers mouth in horror) "NOOOOO!!"
      Fabris: (looks up and sees Maria) "Hm? Maria...?"
      Maria: (pleading) "No, Father, please.... don't do this terrible thing. I beg you."
  • September 10, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Well it's good to at least put the work title in italics.
  • September 10, 2012
    MiinU
    ^How do you put something in italics?
  • September 10, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Put two single quote marks around the text.
  • September 11, 2012
    littlemissmuffet
    • In the first Star Wars film, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, the two most innocent characters so far, both wear white. Perhaps justified for Luke, who lives in a desert where light colored clothes would be practical.
    • In West Side Story, Maria wears an altered Confirmation dress to the dance. She wants to dye it red or lower the neckline to look more "adult", but Anita convinces her otherwise.
    • Snow White is the epitome of a pure and innocent young girl in traditional portrayal.
  • September 11, 2012
    lexicon
    If you, Dragon Quest Z, agree that context is needed, please delete the ones that don't have context as the character might not be wearing white to symbolize innocence.

    • In A New Hope: The youngest senator ever elected, Princess Leia wears the traditional gown of the Alderaan royal family, a symbolic royal belt, and a traditional Alderaanian hairstyle. Her gown's pristine color is meant to emphasize her purity and youth. Leia's practical side shows through though, in her sturdy leather travel boots.

    It's a quote from rebelshaven.com/SWFFAQ
  • September 11, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ That would only count if she is wearing white.

    ^ Or I'll add context when I find some.
  • September 11, 2012
    MiinU

    Anime

  • September 11, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    • The sweet and kind Princess Medea in Dragon Quest VIII wears a white and blue dress.
  • September 11, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Okay, added context to the OP examples.
  • September 11, 2012
    cygnavamp
    Snow White is sometimes portrayed wearing white. Even when she isn't (such as Disney's bright primary colors) she still has very pale skin and her suggestive name.
  • September 11, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Okay, that works.
  • September 12, 2012
    Rognik
    Do We Have This Already? If not, how could we not? This is probably one of the older tropes out there.

    • Wedding dresses are white to symbolize that the bride is a virgin before her wedding. This fact is discussed sometimes in media, such as the pilot for Whitney.
    • Used for dramatic irony in Shortpacked, as both Mike and Amber are wearing white for their wedding; Mike is one of the most evil characters in the cast (without being evil) and Amber is growing to be just as evil. (I know you said to avoid aversions, but this is intentionally invoked because of the trope.)
  • September 12, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ 1. I brought up splitting Woman In White, but despite support, the thread was locked.

    2. Did you really miss me directly mentioning wedding dresses in the OP? This is at least the second reply that's done that.

    3. That would be an Inverted Trope, not an Averted Trope.
  • September 12, 2012
    Rognik
    ^I did see Blood Splattered Wedding Dress, and a few other mentions of wedding dresses, but that's not mentioning why wedding dresses are white. It's different, and if it's the second time it happened after you ignored it the first time (assuming you just said "got it already"), then you should consider there was a reason for it.
  • September 12, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ "A Super Trope to Fairytale Wedding Dress (since most are still white, for the reasons of this trope)"

    Right there at the bottom of the description.
  • September 12, 2012
    randomsurfer
    • In a Flash Forward episode of The Simpsons where we see Lisa's wedding, she and Marge briefly discuss this.
      Lisa: Mom, I feel kind of funny wearing white. I mean...Milhouse.
      Marge: [dismissive] Oh, Milhouse doesn't count.
  • September 13, 2012
    Rognik
    ^^I still say no. Fairy Tale Wedding Dress makes the dress elaborate, not white, and that page also doesn't mention the virginal quality of the dress. A wedding dress can be simple, understated and still be strikingly beautiful and white. Technically, the dress COULD be any colour, but the white for virginity is so ingrained in the culture that non-virgins, including pregnant women, wear it. As I mentioned in my first post, sometimes people will comment on how she shouldn't be wearing white because she's not a virgin, but that isn't that popular either.
  • September 13, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ The traditional wedding dress, as distinct from any other Pimped Out Dress, didn't exist until Victorial popularized it, which included wearing white.

    And just because I didn't spell it out in that section, when it's spelled out at the start of the OP, does not mean it isn't mentioned.
  • September 13, 2012
    lexicon
    A couple of these might already be covered under Gold And White Are Divine.

    I know that the white dress came out the same time as the pimped out fairy tale one, but I don't think that means that they should be listed as if they're the same thing. Maybe we should have one of the info pages, or whatever you call it, for the idea of the wedding dress.
  • September 13, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ 1. Those examples are both this trope and Gold and White Are Divine. So they get listed on both.

    2. The thing is wedding dresses were just pimped out dresses before the trope came along.
  • September 13, 2012
    JoeG
    • In the "Cell Block Tango" number from Chicago, each of the murderesses on death row describes her crime. After each of them is done she is illuminated by a red spotlight. Then one of them protests her innocence and is illuminated by a white spotlight, suggesting she is actually innocent. Of course, this being a Crapsack World, she is the only one who is executed.
  • September 13, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ This isn't actually that meaning of "innocence". Perhaps this should be called White Means Purity.
  • September 13, 2012
    ross
    Gandalf the White (Lord of the Rings), Dead Dumbledore (Harry Potter), Princess Celestia (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic).

  • September 13, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Gandalf's color was a rank. I think Dumbledore was just meant to be ghostly. Celestia is a good person (fan interpretation aside), but not the pure and innocent kind of character.
  • September 13, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    Thinking about it, it might be best to just limit it to virginity for now, to make the parameters clear. We can make a broader Super Trope later.
  • September 14, 2012
    Rognik
    ^x4 I think that might be a better name for this trope, especially as innocence and purity are largely linked.

    As for the wedding dress, I'm done arguing over this. Obviously, you're convinced you're right and I can't convince you otherwise. I don't see where you spell out, in so many words, that the wedding dress commonly depicts purity in the modern age. Sometimes, you need to spell things out in no uncertain terms, no matter how much you're convinced it's mentioned. Besides, we've had these sorts of exchanges in the past, and I've never made headway with you. So I give up. Enjoy your trope.
  • September 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "I don't see where you spell out, in so many words, that the wedding dress commonly depicts purity in the modern age."

    I think there might be a misunderstanding of what we mean (as I wasn't sure what you meant until I read the above part). I didn't mean that a wedding dress itself depicts purity. I meant that a wedding dress is white because white means purity. It doesn't seem like much of a difference, but that is part of the parameters of the trope.
  • September 14, 2012
    corruptmalemenace
    Many reviews, both by professionals and by schoolchildren, of The Catcher In The Rye assume that Holden Caulfield's rambling about how he likes snow - particularly undisturbed, pure-white snow - ties in to his obsession with preserving the innocence and purity of childhood and/or his ultimate refusal to 'disturb' his own virginity even after hiring a prostitute.
  • September 14, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ I don't think assumed use of a trope counts. It's still YMMV.
  • September 15, 2012
    lexicon
    If this is going to be limited to 'white = virginity' it looks like it will need most of the examples deleted as few of the listed ones say anything about abstinence. Virgin sacrifice applies and 'unmarried women were to wear white dresses' is because it's assumed they're virgins but the others say nothing about a lack of sex.
  • September 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Some do. Just look at the full context. Others can have context added.
  • September 15, 2012
    lexicon
    'Pure spirit,' 'sweet and nice,' 'pure being,' 'pure and nice person,' are hardly more than ZeroContextExamples. Mix those around and you wouldn't know the difference. The good angel one makes sense but the others are to vague to be a trope.
  • September 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Those aren't what I meant. Those that are not about virginity at all would of course be cut.
  • September 15, 2012
    lexicon
    It might be better to limit this to unearthly beings like angels and Jesus, who was at certain times wearing white, like in Mark 9:2-9. There's also the Childlike Empress in The Never Ending Story.
  • September 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That's not about innocence or purity though.
  • September 15, 2012
    lexicon
    I'm not sure which one you're referring to but if you want this to be about virginity why hasn't randomsurfer's The Simpsons example been added?
  • September 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ I'm not doing rolling updates here (I might though). Plus I just asked if it should be switched. Then I would adjust the description and examples accordingly.
  • September 15, 2012
    lexicon
    I find Rolling Updates very helpful so everyone knows what's going on as the conversation is going. I vote no on switching it to virginity. This can just as easily become a trope for white on celestial (obviously pure and innocent) beings and I think I have a way to write a trope for virginity that would make Rognik happy.
  • September 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ 1. I know they are helpful. I just don't do them a lot.

    2. This "can" become a trope for something else is NOT a reason to vote down another trope. You make the trope for celestial beings wearing white. This ykttw has nothing to do with that, so insisting on it out of nowhere seems to be almost like trying to hijack this. Again you can just make your own.
  • September 15, 2012
    MiinU
    ^@DragonQuestZ - If you do decide to change it, would you say Maria's example still qualifies?

    The reason I ask, is because she was a virgin, until she was raped, by Astral. So if the trope were limited to virgins only, would someone like Maria still quailfy, if their virginity was taken from them, even if they're pure of heart?
  • September 15, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Yeah. But the trope is not limited to virgins. "virginity" =/= "virgin". There is a difference. That's why The Golden Girls example fits, since it's a discussion of the trope.
  • September 16, 2012
    MiinU
    ^I saw that part of your comment, that's why I said, "if".

    Also "virginity" =/= "virgin"? Wait, what...??
  • September 16, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Really? That's confusing? One is an aspect, and the other is a person who happens to have that aspect.

    That cannot be the same thing, or else "ice" and "freezing" are the same thing.
  • September 16, 2012
    lexicon
    I think "virginity" =/= "virgin" means that a non-virgin not wearing white is as relevant to the trope as a virgin who is wearing white.

    What about Bella in Twilight? She was a virgin when she got married. Is that applicable?
  • September 16, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ 1. But if that non-virgin not wearing white discusses this trope, it still counts as an example.

    2. She wears a white dress, so of course.
  • September 16, 2012
    MiinU
    ^^^@DragonQuestZ - considering one can't rightly be called a "virgin", without retaining their "virginity", I'd say the two are one and the same. You can't have one without the other.
  • September 17, 2012
    cygnavamp
    It shouldn't be limited to just virginity. Luke Skywalker may have fooled around with Camie when they were younger for all we know. It should relate to innocence in any form. Here's another example.

  • September 17, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^^ Being mutually dependent is still not being the same thing. A person cannot be the state of virginity, merely have the state of virginity.

    ^ Luke wouldn't be an example anyway, since that's more an inference than something directly shown in the work.
  • September 20, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    I also think it shouldn't be limited to virginity. The principle of white referring to innocence/goodness is far broader than that. Think of the old references to "black hats" and "white hats" in Westerns.
  • September 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ That's why I was also proposing making a broader Super Trope (or Sister Trope) later on. The thing is the parameters for this current definition aren't well established.

    But I won't change this. I'll make a new ykttw for white=virginity, and then we can work on what should and shouldn't fit this trope.
  • September 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    This is the ykttw for "Virgin White".

    So what should be the parameters of this ykttw right here?
  • September 20, 2012
    cygnavamp
    ^ Probably innocence in other meanings of the word. Youthfulness, naivety, a pure heart, blamelessness, guilelessness, honesty, sincerity, that sort of thing.
  • September 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Well how would we use that to make it clear what does and doesn't fit?
  • September 24, 2012
    cygnavamp
    ^ Probably mention it in the description. Or change the name to "White Means Pure Hearted".

    • Another Hooker With A Heart Of Gold who wears white would be Kim from Miss Saigon, who wears a white cheong sam while the other girls wear bikinis. (Boubil and Schoenberg must love this trope!)
  • September 24, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "Or change the name to "White Means Pure Hearted"."

    Although that might still require an In Universe mention, or at least a characterization that clearly fits. Luke wouldn't, since even in Episode IV, his aunt and uncle knew he had too much of his father in him (although the prequels had him know the guy for barely two days).
  • September 25, 2012
    ClockStopping
    • In CLANNAD, the girl in the illusionary world, an innocent and kind albeit mysterious young girl, always wears a plain white dress.
  • September 25, 2012
    cygnavamp
    ^^ Seems to me "feared" would be a better word than "knew".
  • September 25, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ The fear was that they knew.

    "He has too much of his father in him."

    "That's what worries me."
  • August 16, 2013
    Noah1
  • August 16, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    @ DragonQuestZ and ross I think you're both partly right about Gandalf. I was under the impression that white was a higher rank because of the wizard in question being tested and either purified or found to be pure/better. Of course, as with Sarumon, decay/decline is always possible.

    Literature:
    • King Kelson's Bride: Liam-Lajos wore white to his killijalay (investiture as padishah), rode a white horse, and had a white canopy on his barge for part of the trip to Hagia Iob. The text reads:
      Amid the splendor of the four Wards, the young king presented a contrast of utter simplicity and innocence as they boarded the caique, his long, high-collared coat all of pure white wool save for the black Furstani hart emblazoned on his breast and a fringed black silk sash bound several times around his narrow waist.
    At his own coronation seven years earlier (Deryni Rising), Kelson wore predominantly white (down to his "spotless white kid gloves") with gold and rubies for the trimmings and a crimson-lined ivory cloak (red being the Haldane colour).
  • August 16, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Why did this have five hats? It's a great idea, but the examples weren't separated out by media types.
  • August 26, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    @ DragonQuestZ To answer your question: No, I don't think you should limit it to virginity. For one thing, there's be no point in having your third paragraph about children and royal ermine and so forth. Besides, I think it is a general innocence thing rather than a sexual innocence thing.
  • August 26, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ What he said.
  • August 26, 2013
    lexicon
  • August 26, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Yeah, that was a sister ykttw to this, it just got launched much sooner.

    Also, I realized the name could be mistaken for white people getting acquitted all the time.
  • September 1, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    ^ Try "White Clothing Equals Innocence".
  • September 1, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ It's more the definition than the title. I think it's a bit too vague on what does and doesn't fit.
  • September 2, 2013
    AgProv
    Not a universal thing: Values Dissonance applies as in China white is the colour of death and mourning.
  • September 2, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    ^ Good point.

    ^^ Well, I was trying to get around the mistaken implication you mentioned. Offhand, I'm not sure how else to do that in a concise title.
  • September 2, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    Well I think I might discard this, as Virgin In A White Dress seems to cover much of this already.
  • September 2, 2013
    lakingsif
    In the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Padmé wears white in episodes 1 and 2, but switches to purple in episode 3, just before we find out she's pregnant.
  • September 2, 2013
    BinaryStep
    White Mages in Final Fantasy.
  • September 2, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    @DragonQuestZ But what about the men (Jesus, White Mages, Gandalf, Kelson, Liam)? Aside from the trope A Man Is Not A Virgin, in at least some of those cases, it doesn't seem to be about sexual purity, but purity in general.
  • September 2, 2013
    lexicon
    I don't know what you mean about Star Wars. Padme very rarely wears white at all and she has maybe one or two purple outfits in episode 3.
  • September 3, 2013
    dragonquestz
    ^^ Which will need a lot of work to clearly define.

    I think Good Wears White would be a better trope.
  • September 3, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Again, not to be pushy, but works need to be put into media categories on the draft
  • September 3, 2013
    Snicka
    In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Brad and Janet wear white underwear, in contrast of the black or colourful underwear of the villains.
  • September 3, 2013
    DracMonster

    Maybe White Is Purity or Purity Wears White -- that would generally encompass "good" as well as virginity (and healing too, I think.)

    Basically, this could work as a Super Trope to the others mentioned.
  • September 4, 2013
    DAN004
  • September 4, 2013
    DracMonster
    • Averted with the gods of the Chalion series, white is the color of the Bastard, who is half-demon and loves baudy humor and inventive swearing, although he's basically good. Blue is the color of the Daughter, guardian of virginity and other "pure" things.
  • September 9, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    ^^ I also like Purity Wears White.
  • September 9, 2013
    joshbl56
    • Ange Serena from Tales of Innocence could be considered one of these. She is one of the nicest (if not the nicest) people you meet in the game and her abilities include healing and light spells. As a weird twist, her fighting style revolves around the thief character stereotype: using daggers, which movements and even stealing.
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