A June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department noted, “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. 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.”
According to Smithsonian.com, pink didn’t become a delicate, “girl” color until the 1940s when retailers/manufacturers started interpreting what they thought Americans’ wanted. This new pink = girl idea quickly waned in the 60s and 70s, compliments of the women’s liberation movement, as the unisex look became all the rage (in the 1970s, the Sears, Roebuck catalog pictured no pink toddler clothing for two years).
But pretty in pink for girls came blazing back in the mid-80s, and its choke hold on identifying all things feminine continues to tighten today, thanks, once again, to manufacturers producing and marketers pushing what they think all women and girls want.
Consequently, the beautiful rosy hue, an innocent bystander of mass consumerism, is often vilified in the current fight for gender neutrality and the third wave of feminism. It’s branded as an “ultra-feminine” and “girly girl” color, labels that have sadly come to be associated with negative stereotypes and, consequently, a lack of female strength, as well as a lack of choice.
Despite its blemished rep, when you consider the actual definition of pink – “the best condition or degree”, as in “perfection”, “the finest” or “the greatest” – it’s a color we should all be celebrating (after all, it’s a derivative of red, the color of strength). We don’t, however, because humans (some) get pink all wrong.