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In the early 1900s, pastels colours were in vogue for newborns. Gender-specific colours were attributed oppositely than we see now. The colours Pink and Blue were first chosen for their ability to complement shades of hair and eyes. Blue was chosen to compliment blue eyes and/or blonde hair, while pink was chosen to compliment brown eyes and/or brown hair.
Then, because blue was viewed as a dainty hue, it was allocated to girls, but pink was considered as a powerful hue, thus it was allocated to boys. The colour red was symbolically seen as masculine and since pink was a shade of red, it was assigned to boys. Meanwhile, blue was a colour associated with Virgin Mary, so it was considered suitable for girls.
In the 1930s, homosexuals were sent to concentration camps and a pink triangle was stamped on them by Hitler. This pink triangle was a way to not only emasculate the persecuted gay men but also the colour. In the 1940s, pink was reallocated to females because it resembled red, a romantic hue, and women were thought to be more emotional.
Women questioned this societal norm in the 1960s during the second wave of feminism, and gendered colours were shunned. However, after prenatal testing became available, this did not last long, as parents began to prepare ahead for their newborns and markets realised they could profit from capitalising on gender-specific material.
The popularity of “Gender Reveal Parties” has recently reinforced the norm that pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Although parents have been increasingly creative with their reveals, pink and blue have remained the two most popular colours for revealing the gender of their children.
Assigning colours to newborns establishes a position for them to develop into and fit into. There are just two colours, which also means there are only two genders you may claim. You have to embrace pink if you’re a female, and that will prove your femininity. It’s a must to identify yourself with blue if you are a boy, consequently, you can not wear the shade pink as it would reflect poorly on one’s masculinity. If you’re a girl who likes blue, you would be considered a tomboy who doesn’t know how to be respectable enough rather than a powerful female.
It is not only about the colours that mark the establishment of gender conformity. While parents assign specific colours to their newborns during “Gender Reveal Parties”, colour their rooms in pink or blue hues, etc., this again creates an arbitrary wall that a specific gender can not cross. It starts with the colours, then the toys- girls are supposed to play with dolls and kitchen sets while the thought of boys playing with dolls is abhorred. Each colour has its significance, true, white is symbolized with peace, black with bad omen. But we need to educate ourselves where colours can also have a wrong impact. Things have changed since the 1960s most definitely but we need to be aware of where it all begins and stop it before a certain colour starts suffocating a certain gender.