Where did this stereotype come from? Was pink always designated a feminine color, and blue a masculine color, or did culture somehow dictate the gender preferences? There are differing opinions, which I have hunted down to mull over.
Isaac and Ella, my friends' babies
You might be familiar with the famous portrait called "Blue Boy". But I didn't know that Gainsborough painted a companion pieced entitled, "Pink Boy". So it seems, in the 1700's, the modern stereotypes had not yet been established. (source)
In the US in the early 1800's, boys and girls were dressed alike in white from birth through early childhood. Babies wore "long clothes" which were white cotton dresses that extended beyond the length of the infants' body.source)
But even as late as 1899, young children were still dressed in unisex dress. The pattern descriptions read, "child’s dress appropriate for either a young boy or girl"
Originally, pink was designated for boys, as it was thought to be the stronger color. In Christian tradition, red was associated as male, and its ‘little’ sibling pink was used for boys.(source) Blue was associated the Virgin Mary and therefore considered feminine.
Take this news clip from a 1927 issue of Time magazine, "In Belgium, Princess Astrid, consort of the Crown Prince, gave birth a fortnight ago to a 7-lb. daughter. Said despatches: "The cradle . . . had been optimistically oufitted in pink, the color for boys, that for a girl being blue."
After WWI, blue was used extensively for men's uniforms. Therefore, blue became associated as more of a masculine color. From the 1940's onward, pink was pushed as a woman's color. "Think Pink" was the marketing slogan to convince women to embrace their femininity. Dressing girls in pink reinforced this role by conditioning with a set of rules that started with little girls, made of "sugar and spice and everything nice."
Book by Lynn Peril
Today, those gender specifications hold strong, with pink designated for girls, and blue for boys. Fashion is making inroads to break the stereotype, but for the majority of our (American) society, I think people are still pretty traditional.
Take this present-day catalog image of room designs for baby boys and girls:
I'm curious to hear from readers in other countries- do gender specific colors hold true for where you live?
P.S. in New York City, there is an exhibit currently going on at the Fashion Institute of Technology which traces the evolution of color in fashion. She's Like a Rainbow: Colors in Fashion. If anyone goes, I'd love to hear how it was.