Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Real boys like pink?

boypinkr32qhuikIt seems I missed the media frenzy over the study that supposedly proved girls really prefer pink, boys blue, and advanced that that was because “it may have helped women gather ripe fruit, or pick healthy mates“.

But as Ben Goldacre over at Bad Science pointed out, the study itself didn’t prove any of those. In fact, it found that this preference is not consistent over culture, exactly the opposite of what it speculates and was widely embraced byt the media.

The most interesting thing here, though, is that Goldacre notes how:

Back in the days when ladies had a home journal (in 1918) the Ladies Home Journal wrote: “There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. 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.”

The Sunday Sentinel in 1914 told American mothers: “If you like the color note on the little one’s garments, use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention.” Some sources suggest it wasn’t until the 1940s that the modern gender associations of girly pink became universally accepted. Pink is, therefore, perhaps not biologically girly. Boys who were raised in pink frilly dresses went down mines and fought in World War 2. Clothing conventions do change over time.

What do the future reserves for our color preferences? I suspect in the future everyone will be tetrachromat, and the real nice colors will be those us poor trichromats can’t even distinguish.

[via Apothecary’s Drawer Weblog]

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1 Comment so far

  1. owlfarmer October 14th, 2009 11:50 am

    I missed this, too–so thanks for the post. My grandmother (who died 10 years ago at age 104) told me long ago that when my father and his sister were born (1921 and 1923) pink was for boys and blue was for girls. When I had my own kids I would have nothing to do with either (bright primary and secondary colors for my wee ones, thank you), but I’ve mentioned the pink/blue shift to many folks over the years and nobody believed me. I can now happily point the skeptical to my bookmark.

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