Many expecting parents are going with a new trend; they are painting nurseries neutral colors. Are people trying to get away from common childhood stereotypes? Whoever said blue is for boys and pink is for girls?
Even though it is true today, color has not always perceived this way. Before the middle of the 20th century, children were not assigned gender specific colors. In fact, there is a lot of debate about the masculinity of the color pink; how some of the world’s most honorable men wore dresses; and what colors really attribute to males and females.
Is the pendulum swinging back to center? Are neutral-colored parents taking a stance against societal norms? Or is this saying true: blue is for boys and pink is for girls?
The Masculine Color Pink
Pink can be seen in the men’s sections of most clothing stores – even if it is not always referred to as pink. Some men opt to call it, “salmon.” Regardless of title, the point is this: a lot of men look good in this color.
Back in the day, pink was not seen as a “dainty” color or overly feminine, as it is today. Actually, during World War II this color was used in military combat – and there is nothing feminine about war. At one point, the British painted an entire militia of warships pink. They thought this hue would blend in at dusk. The tactic was used to confuse the Germans. Did it work?
Honorable Men Wore Dresses
When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was two and a half years old, he was pictured wearing a long white dress with shiny black shoes and long curly hair. His mother was not mistaken about his gender – this look was appropriate for boys in the late 19th century. In fact, during this era, it was appropriate for boys to wear dresses until the age of seven. White cotton dresses went well with white cloth diapers. They were functional and easy to clean.
Who’s Whose Color?
It was not until the middle of the 1900’s that blue and pink were attributed to boys and girls. Even then, it was said that pink was for boys and blue was for girls. This was stated in an article printed in the trade publication, Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department, in June of 1918.
All this changed, however, in the 1940’s. After World War II, boys began dressing like their fathers, and girls like their mothers.
Gender specific colors go to show how inseparable colors are to the human psyche. Much of a person’s identity comes from the apparel he or she dons. Many children learn about their genders by the colors they wear and play with. But will blue always be for boys? And will pink forever be a girl’s color? Or will the pendulum swing again?
Image Credit: JEONGMEE YOON / BARCROFT