Gender Stereotypes: Pink and Blue
By Lilli DeBode, guest blogger and senior at Kent Place School
“Pink is for girls, blue is for boys” These are words that many children have uttered at least once. But where does this rule come from exactly? I know that this color mandate has influenced my childhood, and I doubt it would be a stretch to say that it reaches almost every child in America and in many countries around the world. I once chose a Pooh-Bear toy instead of a Tweety Bird toy because Pooh-Bear was wearing a red shirt and that was more girly than the completely yellow Tweety Bird. Ridiculous? Of course, but that was just how my pink-infiltrated mind was working at the time.
If you visit a Toys R Us and walk down the aisles filled with “girl toys,” you will be engulfed in a sea of pink. Products for boys? Blue as far as the eye can see.
I did some research on the history of pink and blue and what I found was pretty surprising. the trend is particularly new. Back in 1918, the Ladies’ Home Journal stated, “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.” How did this entire rule just flip suddenly? Not only did the colors themselves switch gender, but the trait associations with the colors changed too. Seriously, when was the last time someone said “pink is a stronger color?”
So apparently in the 1940s manufacturers just decided that pink would now be for girls, and blue for boys. Since that was the age of the baby boomers, the trend took off, and producers ran with it all the way into the 21st century.
Since the pink and blue rule has been around for a few generations, girls are immediately attracted to pink and boys to blue. Until recently, Legos advertised their blocks as gender neutral. As soon as they started making some of their packaging pink, though, sales soared as little girls started clamoring for the bubblegum colored boxes.
It is evident that this is not a matter of preference, (100% of girls do not inherently love the color pink). Instead, this is just an easy way for advertisers to get their products directly to their target audience.
One woman in South Korea decided to make a gallery showing just how many products children these days have that are either pink or blue. It is called “The Pink and Blue Project” And you can find the unbelievable pictures right here.
Sources and Resources: For more on the history of pink and blue click here.