PINK AND BLUE

UMD's Jo B. Paoletti's work on cultural stereotypes within clothing choices is discussed.

By David Brooks, The New York Times

If you are buying clothes for a newborn, what color do you buy? The general rule these days is that girls are more likely to wear pink and boys are more likely to wear blue. But that wasn’t always the case. In 1918, an article in Ladies Home Journal advised: “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. 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.”
 
In other words, Americans a century ago looked at the same colors, saw them completely differently than we do today and slotted them in differently to their cultural stereotypes.
 
Jo B. Paolettti, a historian at the University of Maryland, has been studying this subject and her work is nicely described in an article in Smithsonian. In 1927, department stores like Filenes and Marshall Field were still suggesting pink for boys. The current fashion didn’t get established until the 1940s.

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