Everyone knows that pink is for girls and blue is for boys right? It is almost impossible to find gender neutral clothing for newborns and increasingly through childhood. But it wasn’t always that way.
Pink used to be the preferred color for boys. In the November 1927 Time Magazine reported on the birth of a baby girl to Belgium’s Princess Astrid: “The cradle . . . had been optimistically oufitted in pink, the color for boys, that for a girl being blue.” The article goes on to note that, “In Catholic countries (France, Belgium, Spain, etc.) blue (the Virgin’s color) is used for girls and pink for boys (source).”
Pink, as a shade of red was considered masculine because it is a “fierce color” while blue is “delicate.” For example, in June 1918 Ladies Home Journal said, “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.”
Now, I have to admit I enjoy pink, and red is my favorite color. I like “girly” versions of things. I own a pink hammer. To me, doing a “manly” job with a “girly” tool makes me feel all…girl power-y. The same way I felt as an undergraduate physics major walking into a classroom of all male students (and male professor) with a dress on. I liked that they didn’t take me seriously – it only lasted till the first test when I set the curve.
However, I do see a pink hammer as a problem when it limits choice. I can see the other side of it – the “for goodness sake why can’t a hammer just be a hammer.” I don’t want everything I buy Aellyn to need to be pink (I always prefer bright colors to pastels anyways). As an adult, I choose a pink hammer. If I only ever buy Aellyn pink things then I kind of take the choice away. I make pink what she is “supposed” to do instead of what she wants to do.
If I have a boy I want him to be free to have a favorite color that falls ouside of blue, green, and black. I can feel myself pulling back on my own love of all things pink because I don’t want my influence on Aellyn to be so strong that she can’t make her own choices. I don’t think there is anything wrong with femininity – both innate and culturally normed – but only if I keep my ears open and really listen to what Aellyn is telling me. I think about this a lot. What will I say? “Mommy likes the pink one, which one do you like?” Will me liking the pink one make her choose it? I’m not sure.
I don’t think we can ever avoid our cultural obsession with color “genders” – it is too prevalent. But, by thinking outside of the tiny square that society paints for us can open our minds to another idea.
What are your thoughts on gender colors and how do you deal with it with your kids? What is the perspective of moms of boys?
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