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Pink and Blue: Have They Always Meant Girl and Boy?

Today, it seems everything baby related, from clothes, to baby showers and yes, even baby baths follow the same standard – pink is for girls, blue is for boys. But did you know that it wasn’t always that way?

We stumbled upon a very interesting article from Smithsonian.com recently that delves into the history of the pink/girl, boy/blue phenomenon that seems to have taken over American baby apparel. The story reminded us that it was the custom into the late 1800s to dress baby boys in dresses (and white frilly ones at that) until they were about 7, when they got their first haircut.

By the early 1900s department stores then took on the role of dictating to parents what was in vogue for children’s fashion. For example this snippet from a 1918 Earnshaw’s Infants Department publication: “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.”

It wasn’t until the 1940s that American partialities took over and the colors flip-flopped. And when feminism surged in the 1970s baby clothes became more neutral with girls being dressed in decidedly less-feminine looking outfits. In fact, you couldn't even find pink baby clothing in the Sears Roebuck catalog for two years, the story reports.

By the late 1980s the advent of gender testing made it possible to know the sex of your baby and then shop for boy or girl “appropriate” items, which caused a surge in pink, blue and “gender neutral” colored items.

The same color conundrum seems to come into play when the décor of a baby shower comes up. If the parents-to-be are waiting to find out the sex of the baby, then they decorate the party with lime, orange, yellow and grey colors. Some parents are now even surprising their guests with an announcement of the sex of their baby at the shower. We’re hearing an increasingly popular trend is known as a baby reveal baby shower, where the mom-to-be will cut the cake to show either a pink or blue cake inside to signify the coming of a baby girl or boy.

While using pink and blue is a culturally accepted and easy way to let the world know the sex of your baby, there’s nothing wrong with bathing your baby boy in a pink baby bath, I mean, its not like your sending him to pre-school in a white frilly dress.

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