For a very long time, women or ladies have been associated with color pink while males have been linked to the blue color in fashion. Interestingly, the colors have been guided by evolutionary history as noted by earlier studies done in regards to the color preferences. This paper discusses the evolution of the two colors in fashion.
Since time immemorial, it has widely been known that pink is for girls, while blue is for boys. This is a perception that has been widely endorsed in the society. For instance, in most baby photos in the late years of the 19th century, the male and female toddlers mainly wore frilly white dresses (Paoletti 7). This raises the question, How did pink become associated with princess and blue with the males? How did the pink colors infiltrate the girls' wardrobes and blue colors infiltrate the boys' wardrobes?
The shift of the girls and boys towards pink and blue colors respectively happened gradually. For a very long time, nearly all children wore white dresses that could be pulled up so easily to change diapers and could also be bleached so easily when diapers inevitably were messed up. The neutral baby clothes were introduced in the mid-19th century hence making it rather difficult to differentiate boys from girls. Pink was construed to be a more decided and stronger color hence its suitability for the boy. On the other hand, blue was considered as subtle and exquisite thus seen as prettier for the girl child. Some others noted that blue was best for the blue-eyed babies, pink was thought to better serve the brown-eyed babies (Paoletti 17).
However, in the 1940s, the trend changed with manufacturers settling on pink for the girls and blue for the boys. Baby boomers were raised wearing the two colors. However, that was not the end. Owing to womens liberation movement, more unisex baby clothes were introduced into fashion in the 1960s and 1970s. Nevertheless, pink and blue would re-emerge in the mid-80s as a result of prenatal testing. When parents realized that they were having either sex of gender, they could proceed to design the outfit using the right color. Manufacturers also followed the same trend. It is during such times that there was a loss of neutral clothing for the children. The trend that emerged cut for the pink/blue color (Frassanito and Pettorini 881).
Most of the changes as far as the evolution of pink and blue in fashion are concerned happened during the womens liberation in the mid-1960. The changes were possible as there were lots if anti-feminine and anti-fashion messages. The young girls during this time were dressing in attires construed to be masculine or rather not feminine in terms of styles. The dressing was devoid of gender hints. In fact, according to the research done by Paoletti, the catalog of Sears and Roebuck throughout the 1970s did not have any pink toddler clothing for two years (Maglaty 1).
The feminists strongly believed that girls were lured and subjected to submissive roles as women through the types of clothes that they had on (Paoletti 21). They maintained that if the girls are dressed just like the boys and less like frilly little girls then they will have several options and feel free as far as their activity are concerned.
Nonetheless, sexual identity of persons has for a long time been learned through the social and environmental cues. This means that the dressing of persons is largely dictated by how they are nurtured and not the manner in which nature dictates. However, the neutral clothing as far as the gender of persons is concerned remained popular until the mid-1980s. Paoletti notes that the trend changed and all of a sudden it was no more a blue overall affair rather it was a blue overall with a teddy bear holding a football (Paoletti 32). The changes also were evident in the manufacture of diapers as they were in pink and blue.
One of the reasons for the change was prenatal testing. During this time, expectant mothers learnt about the sex of the unborn and proceeded to shop for either gender. The shopping was either for a girl or a boy. In fact, for the sellers, the more they individualized the clothing, the more they could sell. The pink fashion was quite widespread and was evident right from sleepers to toys (Stamberg 1).
Interestingly, some of the young mothers who were raised in the 1980s who did not experience the fashion, do not approve their daughters to have a unisex look. If they are feminists then their perception of the things are much different as compared to that of baby boomer feminists. The evolution of pink and blue in fashion was also been affected by the rise of consumerism among children. Children become more conscious of their gender between the third and fourth ages. Mostly, they do not realize that the condition is permanent until the age of 6 and 7. Paoletti (18) further contends that this group is the subject of both sophisticated and pervasive adverts that are seen to trend everywhere and hence introducing some kind of social conventions within the society. A case in point is that they think that what would make an individual to be seen as female is when such individuals have long hair and they put on dresses. The individuals often are so interested and in most cases very adamant in regards to the things that they like and those that they do not like.
Generally, when people talk of the introduction of gendered colors, it all goes down to the blue and pink colors. It is these two colors that define the deviousness of sexual hints as far as clothing are concerned. The two colors have divided the clothes to be either male or female. Nonetheless, the pink and blue colors are so much integrated into the American popular culture that it is quite difficult to note that it is one of the recent developments (Maglaty 1).
For a long time, the babies, especially in the early years of the 20th century, wore just white clothing that was a symbol of their age and not sex. In fact, their clothes were consistent with the existing cultural norms (Frassanito and Pettorini 882). During this times, the toddler and the preschooler clothing, which is the age of zero to six was known to be very colorful though the assigning of the hues was largely dictated by the complexion and not the sex. Later, in the early years of the 20th century, the fashion for the American children turned out to be gender-focused. Pink which was just a neutral color among the nursery colors and with no link to the gender turned out to be a dramatic and visible marker for the change. Even though pink is usually paired with a blue color when discussing the gender symbolism, blue has never had many powers and liking as pink has had. Interestingly, girls are free to wear any shade of blue so long as the shade is properly modified and has some pink and blue with flowers, has ruffles or even has proper feminine touch (Stamberg 1).
On the other hand, for the boys, the pink clothing has been rare since the 1940s. It is documented that the modern history of pink colors being more of girls color has three stages and the fourth stage is just the latest and emerging. The first stage is one that happened during the transition from the ungendered period to the gendered clothing for the toddlers and children. It happened during the first period of the twentieth century and the details that were known as babyish or youthful including the pink color which was strongly associated with feminine (Stamberg 1). However, the stand and the law was adopted slowly and consistently over time.
Since the mid-1980s, pink has increasingly become a strong feminine color and got to a level of ethical imperious among the children aged between three and seven. This could largely be attributed to the strong women movement that is linked to the traditional girliness. Finally, since the year 2000, the alternative and resistant use of pink have increasingly been evident for both boys and girls.
Frassanito, Paolo, and Benedetta Pettorini. "Pink and blue: The color of gender." Child's Nervous System 24.8 (2008): 881-882.
Maglaty, Jeanne. "When did girls start wearing pink." The Smithsonian (2011). Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/when-did-girls-start-wearing-pink-1370097/
Paoletti, Jo Barraclough. Pink and blue: Telling the boys from the girls in America. Indiana University Press, 2012.
Paoletti, Jo Barraclough. "Pink and blue: Telling the girls from the boys in America." Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP (2012).
Stamberg, Susan. "Girls Are Taught To'Think Pink,'But That Wasn't Always So." National Public Radio (2014). Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2014/04/01/297159948/girls-are-taught-to-think-pink-but-that-wasnt-always-so on 6/04/2017
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