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Over the years, clothing has changed significantly, and none so more than for baby boys and girls. It’s fairly commonplace nowadays that a boy’s nursery should be blue, and a girl’s should be pink. However, it wasn’t always like this.

Blue for boys and pink for girls… or should it be the other way around?

In reality, it’s only in the last 60 years that specific colours have been prescribed based on gender, although is was an ongoing process even before that. In fact, for centuries, white was the standard colour of baby clothes. It was cheap, practical, and could be bleached in the event of any accidents. While pastel coloured baby clothes were released in the mid-19th century, it was until the early 1900s that gender specific colour were assigned. However, it may not be what you expect.

Many journals, for example The Ladies Home Journal, at the time stated that boys should wear pink, and girls should blue. The reasoning behind this was that pink was considered a stronger (and thus more masculine) colour and so was suited to boys. By contrast, blue was more soft and delicate, and so fit better with girls. Furthermore, gender was often not even taken into account. Some records say that blonde haired children should wear blue, whereas pink worked with brunettes. It was even stated that eye colour could be a factor, with blue for blue-eyed children, and pink with brown eyed ones.

That said, it is a topic that’s been met with some controversy. Some sources have said that actually boys have always been blue. One researcher searched through a database of 5 million books, he noted that there was distinct lack of linking boys with pink, whereas girls were often associated with that colour. This is despite the fact that the database was based between 1800 and 1900, which contradicts the original findings of many researchers.

Whatever the case, at some point in time, it was decided that boys fitted with blue and girls with pink. But when? It was probably in the late 1940s to early 60s, when the Baby Boom was in full swing. There was an upswing of gender neutral colours, such as aqua and grey, in the 70s and 80s. This was most likely caused by the radical changes in gender equality which had happened in the ten years previously.

However, with extensive use of the ultrasounds, blues and pinks made a resurgence. This time, blue was boys and pink was girls. The reason behind this was one of practicality. If the parent knew which gender the child was, they could buy appropriate things for the baby in the right colour. Baby companies understood this mind set, and pushed the idea of gender specific colours, especially when it meant parents would buy a whole new set of clothes when they had a new baby of a different gender than their first.

It is slowly coming back that gender should make no difference to what colours are used, but for now at least, the divide remains the same!

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