Some boys will not be caught dead in pink because they feel it’s a girl’s colour, and heaven forbid they wear an article of clothing that’s pink lest they come across as “girlie”! But girls are freer with both colours, they could slip on a pair of blue denim trousers as easily as they would a pretty pink dress. But truth is, this has not always been the case.
Here is the true story of gender-specific colours.
In the Western world, baby photos from the late 1800s showed baby boys and girls wearing frilly white dresses – which was the sensible choice – because they could easily be pulled up when changing diapers, and bleached when they were stained. Also, both boys and girls wore dresses until they were about 6 or 7 years old.
So, no colours then.
The Early 1900s
The shift toward pink and blue happened gradually as can be seen in this Ladies’ Home Journal article in June 1918:
The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.
As can be seen, even for a time; pink was for boys, and blue for girls!
But by the 1940s, the gender-specific colours had been switched as a result of the preferences of that time – blue for boys, and pink for girls – which has remained till this day. Historian, Jo B. Paoletti believes it could have gone the other way though.
When the women’s liberation movement arrived in the mid-1960s, the unisex look became the rage—clothes and colours that are not gender specific. Girls were dressing in masculine—or at least unfeminine— clothing styles devoid of gender cues because it was believed that clothing influenced the way an individual was expected to behave.
The Mid 1980s
By this time, parents could take tests which could tell them the sex of their unborn babies, so once expectant parents learned the sex of their unborn baby, they went shopping for “girl” or “boy” merchandise. Hence, “the pink for girls, and blue for boys” became even more fashionable. Also, because manufacturers wanted to sell more of their merchandise, they promoted this by individualising clothing, which meant that what parents used for James who was their first baby and a boy, couldn’t be used for Amanda who is their second and a girl.
And this thinking has remained with us till now. So, there goes the origin, and the progression of gender-specific colours and clothing.
So, there are no standard rules about blue and pink – except the ones we create! If you feel comfortable wearing any of the colours in an article of clothing, go right ahead!!!!!