The counterculture of pink

“When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?” Image courtesy of University of Maryland Costume and Textile Collection, Smithsonian.com, 2011.

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys – in modern times, this color distinction is an instantly recognizable indication of a baby’s gender. It is, however, a fairly recent norm. Until the 1940s, when large-scale manufacturers of ready-to-wear infant clothing established the pink and blue standard we know today, the colors, if used at all, were commonly paired with compatible hair and eye colors. When they were associated with gender, pink, considered to be a watered down version of the imposing red, was a “more decided and stronger color” and therefore appropriate for boys.

In the 21st century, pink is a decidedly feminine color. Thus, when wearing the color, males must justify their fashion choice: The above shirt makes a tongue-in-cheek statement about the wearer’s rebellious and progressive nature, but even a simple, plain pink shirt can be used as an expression of a man’s unquestionable masculinity – he can still identify and be identified as a man, regardless of the colors he wears.

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