Do you realise that there was a time when boys wore pink and girls wore blue? Hard to believe you might say? However, it is true folks. I heard it on the radio this morning!
I must have known this was coming after quoting a women, Selina Venier, writing in the Catholic Leader about her decision NOT to find out the sex of her third child, after finding out the sex of her first two children. All her friends were concerned, “What colour will you paint the nursery?” As if the women of my own generation somehow were hard done by because they had no idea what colour to paint their nurseries!
It was pretty simple: we painted the nursery white or yellow. That’s how it worked in those days folks. But now, an American woman, curious about the phenomenon of blue for boys and pink for girls, decided to do some research into how all this started.
Jo Paoletti was shocked when she discovered it wasn’t at all simple and so she has written a book about it called, “Pink & Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America” where she has traced the colours babies and children were wearing right back to the 17th century. What she discovered was not what she expected!
Okay, so in the 18th Century, all the babies wore white in the form of dresses until they were children regardless of sex. Easy peasy. But, by the 19th Century things were beginning to change. It seems some expert or other, decided that parents must show the gender of their child in order to form their identity … especially their sexual identity … and boys began to be put into trousers as soon as possible.
By the 1940s boys were now wearing … wait for it … PINK and girls were wearing BLUE. It seems that there was some influence here from immigration, especially from Catholic Germans who believed girls should wear blue because it was the colour of the Virgin Mary. As Jo Paoletti write on her blog:
“One of the examples I use to show how pink used to be an acceptable color for boys is Walt Disney’s 1953 animated film, Peter Pan. The youngest child, Michael, wears pink pajamas throughout the entire movie. (Don’t take my word for it: just search for images for “Disney Peter Pan Michael”)”
Check out Jo’s website for it contains all kinds of interesting information about babies and clothes through the eras. You’ll love it! www.pinkisforboys.org
But things began to change around the 1970s when babies wore unisex clothes in all sorts of pastel colours but by the 1980’s the blue for boys and pink for girls had really gained in popularity and has never left us since.
And so today, mothers all over the world cannot wait to see whether they are having a girl or a boy so they can know what colour clothes to buy and what colour to paint the nursery. Oh, expect for Selina Venier who has decided not to bother. She must have the last say here:
“Not knowing doesn’t mean we don’t buy baby clothes or prepare the baby’s bedroom – it means certain tasks can wait and I can indulge my love of the colour white.”
Exactly what we did in the ‘old days ‘ Selina. How did we possibly survive?!