You don’t have to host a gender reveal party or chew a bubblegum cigar to know that society thinks pink is for girls and blue is for boys. If that doesn’t sit well with you — and any parent with a boy demanding a pink shirt or a girl who refuses to wear anything but her blue jeans knows the feeling — you might find it gratifying to learn that this tradition is anything but traditional. According to Smithsonian Magazine, when pink and blue were first introduced into children’s clothing in the mid-19th century, it was the exact opposite.
An article in the 1918 issue of Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department (great read, by the way) confirms this, stating that pink was more “decided and stronger,” and thus, more masculine. When Time Magazine published a chart of gender-appropriate colors in 1927, retailers like Filene’s, Best & Co., Halle’s, and Marshall Field’s all designating pink for boys. According Jo B. Paoletti, a historian and author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America, pink did not become a universally feminine color until the 1940s, and only because manufacturers and retailers said so. Women’s liberation in the 1960s and 1970s lead to a shift towards more neutral clothing, but the trend of prenatal testing in the 1980s put these gender norms back into the closets of kids.
But before you update your kid’s wardrobe, it may not matter much because people aren’t huge fans of the color pink anyways. A 2007 study from Newcastle University found that a majority of men and women have the same favorite color and it’s not pink, it’s blue. So perhaps the solution to the color war could be getting rid of pink all together? Whether you have a son or daughter, you don’t have to dress them like every day is Easter.
[H/T] Smithsonian Magazine