Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys – But why?

Why is it true that Pink is associated with Girls and blue associated with boys?

Well, why?

In Europe and the United States, pink is often associated with girls, while blue is associated with boys. This view is quite recent. Before the 1900s, countries were different, with some assigning colours based on the baby’s looks, and others assigning pink sometimes to boys and sometimes to girls.

People have noticed the association of pink with boys in 20th century America. An article in Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department in June 1918 said:

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 colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.


One reason for the growing use of pink for girls and blue for boys was the invention of new dyes, which meant that children’s clothes could be produced in hundreds and washed in hot water without fading. Before this time, most small children of both genders wore white, which often could be washed.  Another reason was the popularity of blue and white sailor suits for young boys, a fashion that started in the late 19th century. Blue was also the usual colour of school uniforms, for boys and girls. Blue was associated with seriousness, while pink was associated with softness.

By the 1950s, pink was strongly associated with girls but was not true globally as it was later on.

Toys aimed at girls often display pink on packaging and the toy themselves. In its 1957 catalog, ‘Lionel Trains’ offered for sale a pink model train for girls. The steam locomotive and coal car were pink and the cars of the train were various pastel colours. The wagon was baby blue. It was a failure because any girl who was boyish enough to want a model train would want a real train and not a pink train, and boys in the 1950s did not want to be seen playing with a pink train. However, today it is a valuable collector’s item!

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