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Pink For Girls and Blue For Boys – Ever Wondered Why?

Baby clothing coloursHave you ever wondered why little girls are dressed in pink and boys in blue? There are many theories as to why colours were originally assigned to genders. In the years of our great grandparents (or grandparents) children of all genders were dressed in neutral colours, usually white.

To make nappy changing easier, boy and girl babies were dressed in white -dresses’. At this time clothing for boy and girl babies was unisex and most people had trouble identifying the sex of the infant or even toddler. Since the garments were made from white linen, they could be bleached and kept perfectly clean.

Shortly before the First World War, modern societies felt that gender-appropriate clothing would be more fitting. At this time, pink was seen as being a strong colour (since it was derived from red) and for this reason it was felt that it would be a better suited colour for boys while blue appeared more feminine and it was assigned to girls.

Soon after World War 1, blue was the colour used to manufacture the soldier’s uniforms and now blue was appreciated as being a masculine colour. Since the 1940s, pink has been labelled as a colour suited to girls. Putting little girls in pink dresses seemed to reaffirm society’s opinion that little girls were made of “sugar and spice and everything nice . Pink is pretty and blue is strong. Years later pink is still considered to be a -girl’s’ colour!


The other theories

However it has also been said that blue was assigned to boys because giving birth to a boy baby was deemed as being good luck in ancient times. In order to protect the precious boy baby, the baby was dressed in blue. Blue is the colour of the sky; the sky is where the gods resided and if the child was dressed in blue, any bad luck would be warded off. In essence, society decided that only boy babies should be afforded the protection of the gods. At this time baby girls did not have a specific colour assigned to them and there were mostly dressed in a neutral color, often black. Later, in the Middle Ages the colour pink became associated with baby girls.

The ancient Greeks shared in the belief that the colour blue has great power and it was strong enough to ward off all evil and sinister forces. It was again felt that boys were deserving of the protection of the gods and as such blue was the colour for boys.

In ancient China, red dye was quite cheap and was readily available and for this reason clothing in pink or red was not considered as being extra special. Blue dye on the other hand was costly and rare.  Since girls were thought of as being not as valuable as boy children, it was fitting to dress a son in blue.

Is pink still the colour for girls and blue for boys?

Today, the prevalence of selecting gender-specific colours is still commonplace today. The moment you give birth to your baby, the baby’s birth details are recorded on a pink or blue hospital card. Even though baby’s clothing is offered in a variety of colours and baby girls and boys can be dressed in pastel yellows, greens, etc – pink is still deemed as being a colour only for girl babies. 

The divide in pink being a no-no for boys is carried over into their toys. Walk through any toyshop and browse the wide range of pink toys for girls and then notice how few (if any) boy’s toys are in pink!


The future of pink and blue

In the 1960s, feminist movements were angered that parents selected gender-specific clothing for children and their argument was -What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander: It was not only the colour of the clothing that was under attack but also the style of the clothing. Active feminists started wearing neutral clothing in rebellion towards society’s sexist dress codes. Women began to feel more comfortable in traditional men style clothing, such as jeans, trousers, etc.

In later years, when parents were able to tell the sex of their unborn baby in the late 1980s and 1990s – the preference for pink and blue infant clothing boomed. Nurseries were decorated in gorgeous pink in anticipation for the arriving baby girl and blue for the nurseries of expected sons.

Although the pretty in pink style infuriated feminists’ movements – the good news is that we are now free to dress how we want to dress and we are also free to choose if we want to dress our babies in pink or blue. Even though it may have seemed extreme when feminists tossed their pretty pink dresses in the bin, at least they made it possible for us to enjoy the freedom of choice and what’s more they made parents and society realise that girl babies are just as precious and valuable as their male counterparts!


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