Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pink For Boys, Blue For Girls?

Its easy to find the girl's section for children's clothing. SEA OF PINK! We all know that...

Little boys wear some of the other colors but mainly blue. And have you noticed that the younger the clothes, the more clearly they are designated into their boys blue and girls pink categories?

So far, I haven't consciously avoided pink for Aaron. They just don't make boy clothes in that color. It hasn't stopped me from putting him in pink socks. And when we're doing our coloring/drawing, the only color I use less of is brown because I just really don't like it.

Aaron doesn't have a favorite color but there have been several occasions that he has selected a pink item, just as he has selected blue, yellow and green items. Yesterday, I was picking out some grey hairclips for my mother and he insisted on getting a couple of pink ones for himself.

Grown men wear pink and I think many of them look good in it. So, I really don't see why little boys should be taught that pink is the color for girls. The only reason I wouldn't encourage it would be that he might get teased in school if he did end up showing a preference for the color. I'll deal with that when the time comes.

So have you ever wondered why the colors were matched to the genders this way?

The origins seem a little conflicted but here's what I got from the Color Matters website...

According to Jean Heifetz, for centuries, all European children were dressed in blue because the color was associated with the Virgin Mary. The use of pink and blue emerged at the turn of the century, the rule being pink for boys, blue for girls. Since pink was a stronger color it was best suited for boys; blue was more delicate and dainty and best for girls. And in 1921, the Women's Institute for Domestic Science in Pennsylvania endorsed pink for boys, blue for girls. (When Blue Meant Yellow. pp. 20 -21)

On the other hand, the idea of associating blue with male babies may stem back to ancient times when having a boy was good luck. Blue, the color of the sky where gods and fates lived, held powers to ward off evil, so baby boys where dressed in blue. In Greece a blue eye is still thought to have powers to ward off evil. The idea of pink for girls might come from the European legend that baby girls were born inside delicate pink roses.

Another theory states that the sexual origins can be found in ancient China. At a time when certain dyes were quite rare, pink dye was readily available and therefore inexpensive. Since blues were rare and expensive, it was therefore considered to be more worthwhile to dress your son in blue, because when he married the family would receive a dowry.


In 2007, there was some research published that the color preferences had a biological origin. Supposedly everybody prefers the color blue, but females prefer redder shades of blue. Here's the TIME magazine article on it.

I think I might go buy some matching pink shirts for Richard and Aaron....


Mike said...

I had read about the pink/blue reversal awhile back.

The color matters website looks like it will keep me busy for awhile.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I never knew why the colours were chosen. Very informative. A Quality Post.

Anonymous said...

I think your husband is a RED person than a BLUE one....look at the number of red shirts he has and you'll know.

Bilbo said...

This was very informative. I guess I ought to see how I look in pink. Not.