Most expecting couples are expected to know their child’s gender and accordingly arrange the future kid’s colour scheme. Which mostly means: Pink for girls, and blue for boys. And ever since prenatal testing was made possible, the gender-stereotyped clothing of children boomed.
But it appears pink hasn’t always been on the girly side. Cracked.com recently posted a piece called “5 Gender Stereotypes that used to be the exact opposite“.
There you can find out about how pink and blue don’t seem to be biologically predestined preferences in boys and girls. Instead it seems like every sixty years or so, notions of what is masculine and feminine change.
Before World War I, girls and boys wore basically the same colours. But as it’s stated in a 1918 editorial from Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department, it suddenly mattered. “There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy; while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl,” the editorial reads.
So blue for girls and pink for boys. It wasn’t until the 1940’s when (American) retailers decided that pink was a bigger hit for girls.
Jo B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America, told the Smithsonian magazine it could have been the other way today. “The more you individualize clothing, the more you can sell,” she said. This is part of the first-wave feminists problem with pink. Paoletti also said that since it was an appointed colour for girls and femininity, the feminists often felt clothes were being used to push girls into their expected roles as women.
The colours Per Se don’t appear to be the problem. The problem arises instead when even babies have to fit in to a specific gender-stereotype. But according to Paoletti, as quoted on the Smithsonian Magazine, people are starting to move away from pink vs blue. “There is a growing demand for neutral clothing for babies and toddlers now, too.”
But many parents still think it’s important to dress their babies in either pink or blue. 34-year-old Janine knew she would have a boy, and immediately set out to buy clothes and decorate her son’s room. In blue. “Me and my partner both value traditions. And I don’t think that it’s harmful for boys and girls to be dressed in either pink or blue.” Janine thinks that if she were to dress her now 2-year-old son in pink or any other “girly” colour, people could get confused. “It’s hard to tell the gender of a baby. That’s why it’s so good to have two different colours. And our son won’t be confused either,” she says. While she doesn’t necessarily care about her sons future sexuality, she says there is a reason why society has chosen this colour codes. “Girls and boys mostly do like to play with different things. And if there are either manly toys or girly ones, in blue or pink, the differences between the two sexes and in effect sexualities becomes clearer. This also means it will probably be clearer for a child growing up to discover if he or she doesn’t fit in to the expected roles,” Janine claims. “Maybe blue was for girls before, but it’s not the colour that matters. It’s what it means.”