Boy or Girl? Trick question! Who gets red?

This mama posted the first picture here to Facebook to announce her baby. Within minutes she had ten posts oohing and cooing—but something was wrong. She had kept the gender a secret—even from herself— and had not announced the birth itself on Facebook. So many friends and acquaintances were learning that baby had been welcomed into the world from this post. She did not give full details in the post—simply a picture— leading people to guess on their own whether it was a boy or girl. Someone noting the red background assumed it was a girl and took liberties to post “congratulations on your girl!” which led to many similar comments until someone finally corrected everyone. This fabric has an Indian flair and I thought it was gender neutral. It never fails to surprise me how strongly color is associated with gender and how strict the conventions are. It may, then, surprise you that red used to be identified as a male color—seen as aggressive, strong, fierce, bold—and blue was for women–cool, serene, demeure, calm, dainty. And so it followed that pink was for little boys, and light blue for girls.

“There has been a great diversity of opinion on the 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.” [Ladies Home Journal, June, 1918]

The current pink for girls and blue for boys wasn’t uniform until the 1950′s.

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