Pink: the colour that divides parents like no other

pink high chair / pink peonies

Does pink ‘stink’? And is that just for girls, or for boys too? Those interested in gender neutral parenting might avoid it altogether, while others will dress both girls and boys in pink. But it’s not always been a ‘girly’ colour. We ask the Instagram parents what they think….

Pink was once a colour associated with boys and men. It was, according to fashion scholar Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute Technology, “considered slightly masculine as a diminutive of red,” because it was thought to be a colour associated with the blood of war.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that it became assigned a ‘girl’s colour’ and later yet, that toys and clothes became divided into ‘pink for girls/ blue for boys’.

When my daughter was born, I opted for ‘gender neutral’ clothes most of the time (yellow, green, white – basically, anything but pink. Even blue was fine) but occasionally I’d pick up a floral dress or pink item of clothing and let her wear it. Family members were more likely to buy traditionally girly clothes for her – the first grandchild, and a girl. I was torn about where I stood on this.

Then I had a boy. I realised that I wouldn’t be picking up floral prints or pinks for him at all. It’s simply not what I’m drawn to. It’s also not what I’m sent to when shopping for him – both websites and real life shops direct you to the ‘boy’s section’, which will inevitably offer prints with animals and tractors, contrasting to the fairies and princesses of the girl’s section.

I therefore find brands like Indikidual so refreshing; it’s genuinely unisex. I have bought clothes for my daughter that I will be holding on to for my son. And clothes for my son that I’d happily dress a younger girl in.

But I actually love pink as a colour – in my own clothes, and around the house –  so recently bought a pink Stokke high chair. It was one without a safety bar, for older kids, so I transferred my daughter over to this one and have given my nearly-weaning baby boy her old wooden high chair.

This purchase made me realise that I wouldn’t have bought a pink high chair for my son. And I was feeling guilty about that, so I asked the Instagram parenting community what their thoughts are on boys and pink. Here’s my original post, followed by their responses…

pink high chair

What’s the real deal with boys and pink: would you buy a highchair like this for your son? Would you buy one for your daughter? I like to think I’d buy one for my son but the truth is, I’d probably be drawn to another colour for him (green, yellow…). I try to be gender neutral – and I am with toys, bedroom furniture, general attitude towards ability – but when it comes to pink, I’m a bit stumped. I love it – and put my daughter in it/on it from time to time – but I think society’s insistence that it’s not for boys has had an effect on me. Would love to hear your thoughts… 

  • billiesyoga I love Rudi in pink but without fail whenever he’s in it I get asked lots of questions and compliments about ‘her’. Interestingly when people think he’s a girl I get a lot more “oh she’s so cute” etc etc.
  • zoecoak Following this with interest! I have a 3yo boy and in my mind always thought I’d be quite cool about gender specific colours/toys – but we tried on a pair of bright pink girls sandals last week so that we could order his size in blue (blue/pink the only two colour options!) and he screamed/cried that he wanted the pink pair … I just couldn’t do it!! Shame on me. Love him in pink shorts, splashes of pink on t-shirts, he has pink plates and cups and got him pink drawers for his toy storage… but had to draw the line at the hot pink sandals!
  • claramellor We have the opposite – a 4 year old girl who loves blue! It has really made me realise how tricky it is to find wee girl clothes that are not pink. We shop at the boys bit in H&M now.
  • danimaysie My boy chose himself a lovely pair of pink @ombabyclothing harems to wear this summer. If we don’t pass on the stereotyping then it’s just another colour!
  • ricci.timber I’m not into pink generally, I go for dark colours for myself anyway so not sure I’d dress a girl in traditionally ‘girly’ outfits if I had a daughter. I consciously don’t buy too many blue things for my son, we go for red a lot for shoes/jackets and his bedroom is light grey, wooden furniture and toys in lots of nice bright primary colours. I probably wouldn’t dress him in baby pink, not because I see anything wrong with it but because other people have a hard time with it and it just doesn’t seem worth the hassle of explaining myself to random strangers! I have seen boys in dark pink before, to me it didn’t seem ‘girly’ and also coral/salmon is really nice, wouldn’t think twice about dressing him in any of those colours.
  • lindsaykolkstudio Jezebel wrote an article called “the history of pink for girls, blue for boys”. Pink was a boys’ colour until the 40s. It was considered a “stronger” colour than “dainty” blue. Also blue was the colour of the Virgin Mary for a lot of history.
  • drjessamy I love a bit of pink for boys and ‘girls’ toys, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to say yes to pink crocs when he was about 4!
  • _lhobbs It’s such a tricky one isn’t it!! I blooming LOVE this chair and my first thought was yeah I’d have that! But then on reflection would I? I own black high chairs and pretty much everything else is monochrome too! Before I had my son, not knowing the gender everyone joked how I had to have a boy as that’s all I’d bought for! Einar has yellow, orange, pale blues but no pink! He does however put my make up on in the mornings…?! So why no pink if I’m happy with him play with makeup? Hmmmm…

What are you thought on pink for girls/boys? I’d love to hear in the comments section…