How Pink And Blue Became Gender-Specific

Posted on June 8, 2013

Pink is for girls. Blue is for boys. Of course our society allows exceptions now and again, but imagine showing up to a boy’s baby shower with a pink bib and matching pink shoes. There would be whispers that either you’re nuts or you must not have seen the ultrasound on Facebook.

But things weren’t always this way. Jo B. Paoletti, historian and author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys, has found that pink and blue designations are extremely recent phenomena. Around the turn of the century, both sexes wore easily bleached white dresses up to age 6, meaning that gender neutral clothing was the norm.

The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War I--and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out.

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Source material from Codesign


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