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"Pink for girls and Blue for boys"

Updated: Nov 30, 2023


Growing up, I was taught the color rule of "Pink for girls and blue for boys." this is something that stayed with me and led me to understand color's relationship to gender. In second grade, I gave a speech on "Why pink is for girls" that my teacher wrote for me and it linked the color pink to gender based on physical characteristics like having pink nails, lips, and cheeks. Now that I think about it, it seems rather simplistic and out of date to associate a color with gender solely based on these physical characteristics. Understanding that colors do not inherently belong to any particular gender and that personal color preferences are diverse and individual. One might question colors become associated with gender...


Prior to World War 1, all babies were dressed in white gowns irrespective of gender, as it allowed for easy access to diaper exchange and could easily be bleached later.

Children also wore unisex clothing up to age 6-7. The following pic shows baby Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U.S. President in a gown! Moreover, kids wore white as we didn't assign a single color to a specific gender. It all started in the 19th century when pastel colors became the new white and the colors were first chosen on how they complimented the eyes and hair, blue was chosen to compliment blue eyes, whereas pink was chosen to compliment brown and brunette hair. Later, believe it or not, pink was associated with boys as it was considered a masculine color, and blue to girls due to its daintiness and feminity. In the 1940's manufacturers started making clothing that was color-coordinated for boys and girls. Girls were reassigned with pink, as they were considered emotional, and because pink was close to red- a romantic color- and women were seen as emotional beings. Women's liberation movement took place in 1960, there was ease again in color-coded and gender-specific clothing as women challenged the prevalent norms they said the colors led to assigned duties and restricted what women could achieve, so they decided to throw them out of the window. But, this was very short-lived, as new testing took rise that allowed parents to know the gender of their kids and parents were eager for that, and surely which the manufacturers took advantage of, so we were back to square one. The gender reveal parties became the new norm, which really reinforced the colors of gender.


People might think assigning colors to gender isn't so deep, but the answer wraps around the fact that assigning colors to gender is assigning them a role that they are supposed to grow up in.

The only two colors present show the two genders that can be there. It also assigns them certain roles, if you are a girl, you should like pink and have to be feminine, or else you will be considered a tomboy if you like blue. If you are a boy, you cannot like pink as it'll make you less manly and show you as weak. All this sets preferences and limits an individual. Children before being born are set to adapt to certain characteristics, in the baby shower for girls mostly flowers and unicorns would be seen, and for boys cars and elephants.


However, in recent years parents have become aware of the rigid norms that are associated with the colors and refuse to instill these color codes within their children, opening to more inclusive thinking. Many baby showers now are in colors like yellow or neutral tones as parents refuse to align color traditions with their kids. Moreover, as we progress, it is important to challenge these stereotypes as colors are meant to be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of gender.






(this little girl, makes more sense than the adults present)


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12 Comments


What an insightful exploration into the fascinating history and societal implications of color coding by gender! Your discussion on how pink and blue became associated with girls and boys respectively sheds light on a topic that many of us accept without much thought. It was particularly interesting to learn about the historical shifts in these color associations and how they are more a product of societal constructs than any inherent gendered preference. What stands out is the way you link these color norms to broader issues of gender roles and expectations. The point about color preferences setting limitations and predefined roles for children even before they are born is thought-provoking. It highlights how deeply ingrained and subtle societal influences can…

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This posts reminds of something that is quite intriguing and at the same something that is considered a mere reinforcer of your post. A relative was pregnant and she preferred to not find the gender till the last day, the entire family was like how do we prepare for a child like this, the room, the belongings, the design etc. She didn't care for everything and continued to stay on her stance. She was constantly criticized and even called out saying oh "larki hai" that is why she doesn't want people to know. She is just following these trends as they protect her. Now this woman belonged to quite a patriarchal household and was married to the only son they…

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This reminds me of how growing up ,since my brother was just a year older than me, it was always okay for me to wear my brother's clothes, play with his "boy-ish" toys, use his blue backpack and yet it was never okay for him to play with my barbie dolls or even wear my pink headbands simply because he was a boy. I was always told girls can wear boy-ish colours but boys can never were girl-ish colours simply because they are men and these colours somehow make them less manly. The history about the origin of associating colours with genders that you have drawn in your article really interested me because the little girl within me finally found…

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I am glad this blog could help you. Accelerating the task to dissociate colors with gender can only work if we as a whole come together and finish the problem. Education can be used to target it, schools should have campaigns to teach students of the harmful effects of this stereotype. Media platforms should be used to educate people about it and the importance of breaking free from this norm. Influencers and celebrities should use their platform to teach people about it and condemn it as a whole. Parental workshops can hold in schools that can help teach parents more about this on going issue and how they can tackle it from the root-cause, which is the house. As you…

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An intriguing read. The little girl in the video presents a really pertinent point that needs to be raised: why are princesses exclusively made for girls, while superheroes are exclusively made for boys? While you mention in your post that "in recent years, parents have become aware of the rigid norms...and refuse to instill these colour codes within their children", I disagree because I feel that there is still a very long way to go before, we can see such a change in our society. Even when we visit a toy shop today, the first choice of almost 95% of parents of a girl-child would be to buy her a doll, a kitchen set (which usually comprises crockery stuff), or…

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When I mentioned that parents have become aware of the rigid norms, I did not associate it with every parent. It was meant as a way to say in comparison to the previous times, some parents are now becoming aware of these stereotypes but we still have a long journey to make. If change had occurred, I would not be writing this blog as a problem but some parents do recognize it now, they refuse to have traditional baby showers and tend to include colors like yellow or neutrals and let their kids play with whatever they want. You rightly mention that still packaging is being associated with colors, and toys like kitchen sets were made to target girls which…

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Neiha A. Siddiqui
Neiha A. Siddiqui
Nov 30, 2023

Speaking of colors, particularly reminds me of Arif Lohar when he used to wear a lot colors and would actively embody his Punjabi side while singing his folks, however that quickly seemed to have died down and this article makes me question if it had anything to do with people scrutinizing his sexuality due to it. In light of color associations with gender and their possible impact on society expectations, what actions do you think can we take to actively encourage a change in perspective toward inclusivity and tolerance, both within individual lives and within larger societal structures? I ask this from a viewpoint of, I don't want my children to be raised in a society with such narrow choices,…

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I remember Arif Lohar wearing beautiful bright colors, even pink which many men stayed away from, but he never shied from wearing them. He proudly said it represented the culture of Pakistan and his artistic identity. However, it was the same people who he decided to present that mocked him and feminized him for wearing such colors. The actions taken should be open to inclusivity and know its importance. One should be aware of how color association affects the child mentally and how it reinforces the roles assigned. A parent should not restrict their child to one color but encourage them to be open to liking different colors, they can offer them a diverse selection of toys, books, and clothes…

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