Pink is for boys, blue is for girls

Another thought on pink and blue.

The truth is that until the 1950s, when marketing to children took off and teenagers arrived on the cultural scene, it was more common that pink was the colour for boys and blue for girls – the opposite of today.

The advice to mothers in one Sunday newspaper in 1914 (March 29th, Sunday Sentinel, USA) was “if you like the color note on the little one’s garments, use pink for the boy and blue forthe girl, if you are a follower of convention.” The Ladies Home Journal, at the end of the Great War (June 1918), advised mothers that “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.”

Isabelle Pitt (of the Development Trusts Association) who put me on to this, suggests that pink was watered down from fierce, and military, red – while blue was associated with the Virgin Mary.

Research with over 3,000 children that I published recently, together with Professor Agnes Nairn, in the book ‘Consumer Kids’ tracks the gender stereotypes the children face and the rising trend of the sexualisation of girls that goes with it. Some of our most revealing work in that was looking in depth at Barbie, Action Man, David Beckham and Victoria Beckham.

The commercial world that children experience is as if the women’s movement had never existed.

5 thoughts on “Pink is for boys, blue is for girls

  1. In addition, wedding dresses in the UK were blue until at least the First World War – see ‘Sunset Song’ by Lewis Grassic Gibbon for example.

  2. The colour I love is the print designer’s colour Pantone Rhodamine Red; really it’s a fierce, vibrant pink (also by far the most expensive of the pantone inks, because of the high cost of the pigments – it used to be made from rare South American crushed beetles or something). The reason you don’t see it much is perhaps because it’s one of those colours that can’t be approximated using Cyan-Magenta-Yellow (standard subtractive colour spectrum for print) or Red-Green-Blue (additive spectrum for sceen). Or perhaps because it was successfully adopted by the Gay Pride movement in the 70’s and 80’s?

  3. Yes, the gays have utilised their pink £ & $ and bought up all the South American crushed beetles and are hoarding it at a secret cave location guarded by fairies….

    Or maybe not!

    But it would be fascinating to know what caused (and when) the flip so that boys became blue and girls pink?

  4. Pingback: Pink stinks, but what can parents do against it?

  5. Pingback: Pink stinks, but what can parents do against it? – one

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