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

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  96 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews

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 ge

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published January 22nd 2012 by Indiana University Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Deborah Markus
Sep 20, 2014 Deborah Markus rated it really liked it
Hello, my name is Deborah and I read way too many books at once. But a lot of them are things I'm reading with my sonny (a little every night) or only in the bathroom or right before bed; or else they're the kind of thing it's hard to make a dent in (hello, Leviathan -- I'm halfway through you, pal!).

This is my sitting-at-the-kitchen-table read. It's interesting and thought-provoking. For instance:

"It's not unusual to hear modern people describe Victorian babies as being dressed like girls; thi
you kind of have to get over a lot of hurdles to get into this book. first, there's the super-academic way it is written. that's going to be off-putting for a lot of casual readers. even i had a tough time with it & i don't mind reading academic books on topics that interest me. then there's the constant explaining & apologizing for the academic tone. paoletti mostly gets it out of her system in the introduction (which is LONG) & then just dives into the topic at hand for the rest of ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Frank rated it it was amazing
Whether new parents; old parents; grandparents of just formally a girl or boy, "Pink and Blue" is a book that should be on your list to read; very soon. Pink and Blue is a truly great scholastic work for the everyday reader; much more than girls wear pink and boys wear blue (do you know why?).This book scans centuries of babies and the baby culture. It deals with unisex, nonsexist, homosexual and all kinds of differences in the world of babies over the first 7 years of life.Ever wonder what the ...more
Jun 24, 2012 Clare rated it really liked it
Totally fascinating. A detailed history of children's clothes. It's about way more than the colors pink and blue. It's an interesting glimpse into how our culture affects how we dress. It also turns the whole idea of a "traditional" way of doing things on its head. That is, unless everyone wants to go back to dressing baby boys in long white dresses.
Ronald Lett
Jan 20, 2016 Ronald Lett rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
A remarkable achievement, given the extremely convoluted topic. The author manages to reveal several non-trivial trend connectives in fashion and gender history, and provides sharp illumination into the origins of our current attitudes about sex and gender consumerisms and where our current trends may be headed. Very well supported with endnotes and extracts from original documents.
Jul 02, 2013 Carly rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this thought-provoking book. Gender issues have always interested me and I highly recommend it to anyone with that same interest and/or an interest in design or fashion. I wish the whole pink vs blue phenomenon hadn't come to pass and that all babies could wear white and all kids a bright rainbow of color to express their every whim.
May 07, 2016 Sébaste rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in history, fashion and gender studies
Recommended to Sébaste by: My roommate
I found this book to be very interesting and very well documented, but the downsides were that I was longing to see more pictures of the clothing the author was describing, and also that I found some parts to be a little bit repetitive.
Brigid Keely
May 08, 2013 Brigid Keely rated it really liked it
"Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America," by Jo B. Paoletti, is a look at infant and children clothing and how it has become more sexualized/marked by gender over the past hundred or so years as well as WHY.

I started reading "Pink and Blue" after reading several pop-science books that are really chatty, joke-y, and gossipy. I expected this slim volume to have a similar tone, but it was much more sober. It's very clearly written and easy to read and comprehend, and very engagin
Oct 20, 2013 Courtney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an easy read, speaking as a grad student, despite other review opinions. Paoletti explains any jargon used, writes concisely. Histories are kept brief without leaving out too much, no crazy generalizations.
The topics covered are interesting and lead up to modern day, within the past 5 years, which was great. Each cultural shift comes with good examples that I could easily visualize. The unisex clothing section reminded me of the pictures of my mom's childhood. Being born in '89 I can de
Kate Woods Walker
May 07, 2012 Kate Woods Walker rated it liked it
A fascinating subject a bit dryly presented, Pink and Blue by Jo B. Paoletti is unapologetically academic. Most interesting was the chapter about the short-lived period in the 1960-70s when unisex clothing for young children was the norm. This brief respite from girly-girl vs. rowdy-boy was followed by an almost Cultural Revolution-style clampdown and reversion to exaggerated sex-role differentiation.

The books shows just how hard the hammer flattens anything that threatens conventional patriarch
Mar 25, 2014 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
This has been sitting on my "currently reading" shelf for a year and a half. It is a very interesting topic and I enjoyed learning about gender-coded colors over time. I believe I am one chapter shy of finishing it and someday I will. But for now it is time to clean house on the "currently reading" shelf.


This book was mentioned in the NYT Magazine today:

I'm enjoying the book but haven't picked it up in a while.
Apr 11, 2016 Marilyn rated it liked it
I find this topic interesting and would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn why we dress girls in pink and boys in blue. Paoletti takes a generational approach to explain the shifts in fashion in the past century or so. She also discusses how advancements in other fields may have impacted these shifts. The first half is academic and dry, but once I got to the 4th chapter it was easier to read, perhaps because she had set the groundwork. It was interesting to learn the history of the ...more
April Raine
Well researched, and informative. The problems with the book stem from a reliance on the outdated theories of Veblen and Simmel, whose fashion theories have been insufficient since the Industrial Revolution. Provides an especially enjoyable breakdown of the evolution of children's clothing from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth.
Aug 06, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok
I picked this up after noticing it on my Goodreads recommendations. I agree with the previous reviewer who called it "a little dry." It is written slightly more academic than popular, which made it a bit of a challenge to get through. This would be great for anyone interested in the history of children's fashion, or gender implications of children's clothing, but didn't really catch my interest after all.
Jan 18, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
I was excited to read this but turned out to be a little dry. I think the subject was very interesting but was written in a technical manner. I think I was hoping for more anecdotes, etc. What teased me into finishing the book was the few times that the author allowed her personal fascination and warmth for the subject to shine through.
Apr 05, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Dry, and very academic treatment of gendered children's clothing. (Also, perhaps it was my attention wandering, but after a chapter or two, it felt repetitive. More like several academic papers put together than a book.) I think this one is really only for serious students of fashion history or gender studies.
Sep 30, 2013 Darcey rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This was... disappointing. Interesting, but short and really... seemed lacking in a few ways. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I felt this was lacking.
Julie Graber
Jan 26, 2016 Julie Graber added it
Shelves: skimmed
Given a big thumbs up at the national NOW conference - the Cinderella Ate My Daughter of 2012 is how they described it.
Oct 18, 2013 Jackie rated it liked it
A fascinating topic with solid research and interesting points but too dryly presented.
Aug 17, 2013 Emily rated it liked it
Don't bother with the first four chapters.
Recommended by Mary Anne Case.
Jeannette Bjorklund
Apr 15, 2013 Jeannette Bjorklund rated it did not like it
This was very very dull. I hated it.
Nov 12, 2011 Kris marked it as to-read
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Emily Kreer marked it as to-read
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Sierra Leighann Johnson
Sierra Leighann Johnson rated it it was amazing
Aug 20, 2016
Shannan rated it it was amazing
Aug 05, 2016
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My interest in the history of dress began in childhood, as I turned the pages of the illustrations in volume D (for Dress) in our World Book. Clothing has always seemed like the perfect window into the real lives of the past; studying what people wore gives us an intimate look into everyday life. For the last thirty years, I have been focusing on how our clothing conveys our gender, especially for ...more
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