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When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?

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When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?

Have you noticed that each new generation brings a different definition of masculinity and femininity that appears to manifest itself in the way we dress our children.

It's not so long ago that young Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat puritanically on a stool with his white skirt spread slickly over his lap, his hands holding a hat trimmed with a marabou feather. Male children of this day would have worn their hair at shoulder-length and donned patent leather party shoes to complete the ensemble. Just imagine what our son's would think of this, especially when you consider that fashion and social convention of 1884 dictated that boys had their first haircut at the age of 6 or 7 and wore dresses until this time.

Today, we have ended up with two units i.e. boys in blue and girls in pink and are able to know the sex of even the youngest baby, at a first glance depending on whether the child is wearing pink or blue.

The answer to the question can be found when you take a look at what happened to neutral clothing, as for centuries, all children wore pretty white dresses until they were at least six years old. This was simply a practical approach after all, mothers dressed their baby in white dresses and nappies as white cotton could be bleached. It just made sense!

The evolution toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor hurried. Pink, blue, other pastels and colours for babies arrived in the mid-19th century, but the two main colour groups were not endorsed as gender signifiers until just before World War I and even then, it took time for the culture of the age to sort things out.

In fact a trade magazine published an article stating that it was the normal for pink to be worn for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reasoning being that pink, being a stronger colour, it was more suitable for the boy and blue, which was considered more delicate and dainty, would be prettier for the girl. Others considered that blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes and another train of thought was that blue suited blue-eyed babies and pink brown-eyed babies.

Apparently, today's colour directive wasn't customary until the 1940s, as an outcome of Americans' inclinations as taken by manufacturers and retailers. So the baby boomers were bought up in gender-specific clothing. Consequently, boys dressed like the men in their lives and girls like the women in their lives. Girls had to wear dresses as a school uniform, though plain and simple styles and tomboy clothes were acceptable for playing at home.

The unisex look came into fashion with the dawn of the women's liberation movement in the sixties and young girls started dressing more masculine. Babies clothes followed suit and popular clothing catalogues of the time displayed no pink toddler clothing for about two years.

Feminists of this era thought that if they dressed their girls more like boys and less like delicate little girls, then they were going to have more options and feel more at liberty to be active and enjoy themselves.

Gender-neutral clothing continued to be popular until about 1985. Suddenly it wasn't just a blue overall but a blue overall with a teddy bear carrying a football and throwaway nappies were made in pink and blue.

The main reason for this change was prenatal testing. Once expectant parents learned the sex of their unborn baby, they were then able to go shopping for baby clothes and accessories for a boy or a girl. The pink trend extended from sleepers and crib sheets to more costly items such as prams, pushchairs, car seats and ride on toys. Parents who were better off could plausibly decorate for the first baby, a girl and redecorate when the next child was a boy.

However, the demise of neutral clothing is something that parents are starting to consider and there is now a growing requirement for neutral clothing for babies and toddlers.

Thankfully, despite the fact that the fashion world has divided children into pink and blue, in the world of real individuals, not all is quite so black and white.