Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America

Overview

Jo B. Paoletti’s journey through the history of children’s clothing began when she posed the question, "When did we start dressing girls in pink and boys in blue?" To uncover the answer, she looks at advertising, catalogs, dolls, baby books, mommy blogs and discussion forums, and other popular media to examine the surprising shifts in attitudes toward color as a mark of gender in American children’s clothing. She chronicles the decline of the white dress for both boys and girls, the introduction of rompers in the...

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Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America

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Overview

Jo B. Paoletti’s journey through the history of children’s clothing began when she posed the question, "When did we start dressing girls in pink and boys in blue?" To uncover the answer, she looks at advertising, catalogs, dolls, baby books, mommy blogs and discussion forums, and other popular media to examine the surprising shifts in attitudes toward color as a mark of gender in American children’s clothing. She chronicles the decline of the white dress for both boys and girls, the introduction of rompers in the early 20th century, the gendering of pink and blue, the resurgence of unisex fashions, and the origins of today’s highly gender-specific baby and toddler clothing.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

PsycCritiques

"In Pink and Blue, Paoletti presents an interesting portrayal of an important gendered
system—a historical perspective that psychologists might otherwise underestimate and
undervalue." —PsycCritiques

Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

"The author is skilled in writing to a wide audience." —Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Worn Through

"Ms. Paoletti has managed to cram a wealth of information in a relatively fluid narrative that scholars will undoubtedly quote and casual readers will enjoy as an engrossing cultural history of parenthood, as well as childhood." —Worn Through

PopMatters

"Pink and Blue is meticulously researched, with references to paper dolls, old retail catalogs and the arcane field of material culture studies. Her findings are fascinating." —PopMatters

CaféMom

"A terrific new book...if you’re getting flack from someone for dressing your boy in pink or your girl in blue...hit them with a copy of Paoletti’s book. When they come to, maybe they’ll read it and leave you alone." —CaféMom

Author of The Commodification of Childhood - Daniel Thomas Cook

"Paoletti delivers an insightful analysis of the origins, transformations and consequences of gender distinctions in children’s dress over the last 125 years.... A must-read." —Daniel Thomas Cook, Author of The Commodification of Childhood

Author of The Social Psychology of Children - Susan B. Kaiser

"Pink and Blue is an interdisciplinary tour de force. Readers will never again take gendered children’s fashion for granted." —Susan B. Kaiser, Author of The Social Psychology of Children

Author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter - Peggy Orenstein

"Pink and Blue challenges the cultural panic over how children’s clothing affects gender and sexual identity. Paoletti shatters myths about what girls and boys 'naturally' like, and does so with details that will fascinate both the casual and professional reader." —Peggy Orenstein

forbookssake.net

"Recommended for: Those interested in the history of fashion, gender studies, and gender politics." —forbookssake.net

From the Publisher
"A terrific new book...if you’re getting flack from someone for dressing your boy in pink or your girl in blue...hit them with a copy of Paoletti’s book. When they come to, maybe they’ll read it and leave you alone." —CaféMom

"Paoletti delivers an insightful analysis of the origins, transformations and consequences of gender distinctions in children’s dress over the last 125 years.... A must-read." —Daniel Thomas Cook, Author of The Commodification of Childhood

"This is a fascinating piece of American social history, perhaps raising more questions than it answers. It is of potential interest to students and professionals in fields ranging from child development to gender studies to fashion to marketing, as well as to new and prospective parents." —Library Journal

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Jo Paoletti provides a compelling examination of 125 years of children's clothing in this volume, raising issues with broad ramifications for understanding the cultural history of the United States between the late-nineteenth and early-twenty-first centuries." —Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

CafeMom
A terrific new book...if you're getting flack from someone for dressing your boy in pink or your girl in blue...hit them with a copy of Paoletti's book. When they come to, maybe they'll read it and leave you alone.—CaféMom
Cafemom
"A terrific new book...if you’re getting flack from someone for dressing your boy in pink or your girl in blue...hit them with a copy of Paoletti’s book. When they come to, maybe they’ll read it and leave you alone." —CaféMom
Forbookssake.net
"Recommended for: Those interested in the history of fashion, gender studies, and gender politics." —forbookssake.net
Library Journal
When and why did we start dressing girls in pink and boys in blue? Paoletti (American studies, Univ. of Maryland) shows that the social rules for attiring our young are ever-changing. Her survey, the result of 30 years of research, considers consumer culture, gender-identity formation in children, parental anxiety about the same, mass production vs. home sewing of clothes, and changing societal beliefs about masculinity and femininity, propriety, and gender roles. Old photographs, paper dolls, and sewing-pattern packages illustrate Paoletti's findings, e.g., that traditional white baby dresses were common for boys and girls from infancy well into childhood through the late 19th century. In the 1920s, a survey indicated that about half of major American department stores promoted blue for girls and pink for boys. An interesting trend toward unisex fashion, influenced by feminism and the sexual revolution, thrived from the 1960s through the 1980s. But from the 1890s onward, children's clothing has become increasingly gender-specific and now heavily reinforces gender stereotypes. VERDICT This is a fascinating piece of American social history, perhaps raising more questions than it answers. It is of potential interest to students and professionals in fields ranging from child development to gender studies to fashion to marketing, as well as to new and prospective parents.—Janet Ingraham Dwyer, State Lib. of Ohio, Columbus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253009852
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 2/20/2013
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,007,251
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jo B. Paoletti is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. Understanding Children's Clothing
2. Dresses Are for Girls and Boys
3. Pants Are for Boys and Girls
4. A Boy Is Not a Girl
5. Pink Is for Boys
6. Unisex Child Rearing and Gender-Free Fashion
7. Gendered and Neutral Clothing since 1985

Notes
Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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