Why Blue is assigned to boys and Pink to girls?
Awareness Parenting

Why Blue is assigned to boys and Pink to girls?


Colours are such an integral part of human life that different colours have been seen to be associated with different emotions, different seasons, and even religious and cultural differences. One of the things missing from this list is gender differences. Over the years, particular colours have been strongly paired with specific genders. Although Colour Psychology is a fascinating topic that many people are interested in, sexism in colours remains a subject that most people don’t pay close attention to.

Read More: Understanding Gender and Sexuality in Psychology

Re-addressing Pink And Blue

Everyone is aware of the rule, “Blue is for boys and Pink is for girls.” But how did this notion come into existence? Was this an actual rule in the first place? If we refer to history, this was not the case until the 20th century. Earlier, when pastel colours became fashionable for newborns, these two colours were first chosen because they complemented hair and eye colours.

Blue was supposed to go with blue eyes and/or blonde hair, and pink with brown eyes and/or brown hair. Blue, regarded as a delicacy colour, was thus assigned to girls, and pink, regarded as a stronger colour, was thus assigned to boys. So if this was the case, how did this colour association swap? Referring to history again, girls were reallocated to pink since it was similar to red, a romantic colour, and also because women were perceived as more emotional. The credit for the long-standing tradition of gender-specific colours goes to marketers who wish to gain immense profits through such targeted branding. This raises the question – how has this colour association been reinforced over the years?

Read more: Impact of Gender Roles on Parenting in Indian Society

How is Gender-Based Colour Coding Perpetuated Psychologically and Socially?

Various socio-cultural and psychological factors can have a strong influence on one’s psyche and as a result, influence personal choices. Many of our preferences, likes or dislikes are not ours, even if we think they are. They are a result of socialisation. Below are some of the ways through which genderism in colours is ingrained in society through various mediums—

  • Children’s Products: From an early age, children are imposed with gendered colour coding. Infant girls are often clothed in red, yellow, or pink, while infant boys are dressed in grey, black, or blue. This colour differentiation extends to toys, with dolls and princess-themed items promoted to girls in pink packaging, while action figures and building sets are frequently offered to males in neutral colours.
  • Fashion and Clothing: Gender-based colour coding continues into adulthood, with various colours associated with specific genders in fashion and clothes. For example, clothing stores frequently have different sections for men and women, with women’s parts displaying mostly pastel colours and men’s sections offering darker, more neutral tones.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Companies frequently adopt gendered colour coding in marketing and advertising initiatives to target certain populations. The Kinder Joy advertisement is a classic example. The blue-pink-themed packaging of these chocolates, and also the toys that come inside them, have been controversial, but the company has not considered this yet. This perpetuates gender stereotypes and may limit personal expression and choice in children from a young age.
  • Socialisation and Expectations: Associating colours with gender can lead to children learning traditional gender norms and expectations. Repeated exposure is used to encourage girls to embrace the tenderness and caring aspects of pink, and boys may be discouraged from displaying vulnerability or sensitivity associated with feminine colours.

Recognising these influences is one of the initial steps towards promoting a more inclusive environment where gender stereotypes do not dictate choices! Greater representation of all forms of expression, irrespective of genderism, especially in advertising and marketing is one solution. Additionally, by encouraging freedom of choice, parents can empower children to explore and express themselves more freely. This involves giving their children access to a diverse choice of toys, clothing, and activities, regardless of typical societal norms, and allowing them to pursue their interests without restrictions.

Read More: Media Psychology: Influence of Media on Behavior and Perception

Reverse Sexism

Just like sexism refers to differential treatment on the basis of sex, typically against women; reverse sexism, as the name suggests, is differential treatment against men. In the context of colour and genderism, this can have certain implications. For instance, men often hesitate to wear colours like purple or pink as they might be mocked or seen as being judged. This example shows how to reverse sexism in colours reinforces stereotypes and limits men’s freedom of authentic expression. 

Moreover, sexism or reverse sexism in colours can pose serious problems for some individuals. People who want to come out and open up about their gender identity might end up resorting to identity concealment. Gender prejudices based on colour associations can cause confusion, distress, and pressure to conform. This restricts an individual’s desire to fully accept and express themselves.

Read More: Are we still fighting the Patriarchy?

Summing up

From the early association of pink with masculinity to today’s strict adherence to gendered colours for children’s clothes, toys, and other items, colours clearly influence how we perceive gender and gender norms. Colours are meant for everyone, regardless of sex or gender. Advertisers and marketing agencies should break rather than reinforce stereotypes.

Target audiences should be based on need, personality traits, interests, and skills, not sex or gender. Similarly, consumers should take up personal preferences rather than confiding and being restricted by seemingly perpetual stereotypes. Parents and significant others play an important role in creating an environment that values individual expression and promotes acceptance. By encouraging inclusivity and diversity, we can create a more accepting space so that something as fundamental to human existence as ‘colours’ can be enjoyed by everyone.


Rajitha S, & Rajitha S. (2016). Killing joy with Gender Bias. The New Indian Express. https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/hyderabad/2016/jan/23/killing-joy-with-gender-bias-872319.html?botrequest=true&

Sexism in Colors – Why is Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys? (2015). UMKC Women’s Center. https://info.umkc.edu/womenc/2018/06/25/8369/

Vatral, M. (2019). The Current Role Of Color Psychology In The Practice Of Gender Marketing. Honors Theses.

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