The Colors of Gender Thanks to Modern Marketing and Ancient Ancestors

From the day you were born, even before conception, there are beliefs and stereotypes that are attached to gender.

Let’s consider the color continuum for gender. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys. Right? Where did this begin? Who decided which colors belong to which gender?

Here is a brief trip through history. In the 1800’s all babies, male and female, wore white “dresses” in infancy. Thus, babies were gender neutral. These sacks were easy for changing diapers and to bleach when they became dirty.

Then around the 1920’s Western parents began dressing the little ones in colors. Pink was associated with boys. Yes, you heard me, boys. Here is the rationale: red is a bold and brave color and too strong for children so, boys got the watered-down version…pink.

Blue, a more subdued color was for girls. And by the way, blue was associated with the Virgin Mary, thus a color of purity. Just saying!

By the end of World War ll the advertising titans took over and the colors were flip-flopped since advertising was geared to women and pink was more prominent. Magazines took the lead and colors were stamped into the national psyche.

Just pay attention to this color phenomenon and you will see the pink-blue gender differences are still very prominent today.

A bit more history. Take a quick trip back with me to our ancient ancestors. Let’s go back, oh say, 10,000 years when bands of hunters and gatherers composed humanity. Men, because of their larger frame and strength, were the hunters, women the gatherers.

Women, so the theory goes, foraged for food, and would be attuned to look for ripe fruits and berries, and ripe was associated with bright red.  The reward for staying focused on the red side of the color continuum was to come back with tasty tidbits to go with the meat the men would have hunted to bring to the table.

Another reason for women and red/pink back in the day, was that a sick child would be flushed and their faces and bodies would become some version of red. Thus, red is the color of survival that may well be imprinted in our genetic material.

Why the male preference for blue? Again, back to our early ancestors; possibly because blue is associated with blue skies, and hunting weather. Blue would also be an indication of a good water source nearby.

There you have it.

I say for International Women’s Day, March 8th, pick from a rainbow of colors and wear whatever you want. Just make sure you do it standing strong and proud. Women have come a long way, and yes, we have a long way to go.

Let’s all keep going and keep growing.