When parents buy children gifts, color usually comes out to be a tough issue. What color should we choose? This can be a very tricky question. Blue for boys and pink for girls, that’s what we’re told. But do these gender norms reflect some inherent biological difference between the sexes, or are they just commercial’s conspiracy? or are they culturally constructed? It is not easy to answer.
Baby books, new baby announcements and cards, gift lists and newspaper articles from the early 1900s indicate that pink was just as likely to be associated with boy babies as with girl babies. For example, the June 1918 issue of the Infant’s Department, a trade magazine for baby clothes manufacturers, said: “There has been a great diversity of opinion on this subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. 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.”
But this attempt at establishing the rule for retailers and manufacturers clearly did not stick. “There was a 1927 chart in Time Magazine where department stores in various cities were contacted and asked what colors they used for boys and girls. And it was all over the map. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that the modern convention (pink for girls, blue for boys) started to dominate, and even so, it didn’t “gel” until the 1980s.
As for why today’s strict color-gender norms set in at all, Philip Cohen, a sociologist thinks they are, essentially, the outcome of a marketing ploy.
“This happened during a time when mass marketing was appearing,” Cohen said. “Being ‘gender normal’ is very important to us, and as a marketing technique, if retailers can convince you that being gender normal means you need to buy a certain product — cosmetics, plastic surgery, blue or pink clothing, etc. — it just makes sense from a production or mass marketing perspective,” Cohen wrote in an email.
There is another different standpoint. A simple search of all the books published in the United States between 1880 and 1980, which have been scanned by Google, suggests that pink was associated with girls and blue with boys during that entire time. Using the program Google Ngram, expert searched for the phrases “blue for boys,” “pink for girls,” “blue for girls, “pink for boys,” as well as the singular versions “blue for a boy,” and so on. The rules we abide by (blue for boys and pink for girls) appeared in books from 1880 onward, becoming more common over time, but the opposite rules (pink for boys and blue for girls) didn’t turn up in the book search at all.
If pink has always been feminine and blue masculine, this allows for the possibility that these gender-color associations have some basis in human biology. Do girls inherently prefer pink, and do boys inherently prefer blue? No one knows. The answer will turn out to involve an interplay of culture and biology. For example, in 2007 a study found evidence that males and females may be sensitive to different regions of the color spectrum, but the explanations that have been proposed are still very speculative and leave much to be desired.
The debate about how, exactly, we got to the point where something as impartial as the color pink seems infused with femininity, will probably rage on in the pages of academic journals. In the meantime, we’re left to ponder the bizarre truth that just a century ago, a magazine asserted, “the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl.”
However, in real life, you can decide what kind of color rules you wanna follow. For example, if you are a traditional parent who wants to buy kick scooter for your children, you can pick blue for your son or choose pink for your girl, on the other hand, you can choose any other colors for your kids as you like if you don’t like the old norms. After all, It is just personal preference. Companies like Fascol provides all kinds of colorful scooters for your children. So, it’s totally up to you.