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Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America Hardcover – February 6, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

(Library Journal)

"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

(Worn Through)

"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

(PopMatters)

"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

(CaféMom)

"In Pink and Blue, Jo 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, The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer

(Daniel Thomas Cook, The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer)

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

(Susan B. Kaiser, The Social Psychology of Clothing: Symbolic Appearances in Context)

"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, Author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter

(Peggy Orenstein Author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter)

"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

(PsycCritiques)

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

(Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences)

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

(forbookssake.net)

About the Author

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (February 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025300117X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253001177
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,097,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jo Paoletti is Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland. She has spent over thirty years researching and writing about gender differences in American clothing. "Pink and Blue", her first book, tells the detail and complicated story of how baby and toddler clothing when from unisex to sharply gendered in the course of a few generations. "Sex and Unisex: Fashion, Feminism, and the Sexual Revolution", about fashion trends in the 1960s and 1970s, was published in 2015. She is currently researching "age appropriate" styles for older women for her next book.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Frank L. Hicks Jr. on February 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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 affect of sexual related colors have on us as we grow up; and after? Any of you guys have the guts to dress in pink?("Tough guys were pink?")Has this simple idea of sexual color scheme affected our nation or individuality? A hundred years ago this was all reversed; so why the change? How did the 60's affect the baby culture? Jo Paoletti offers you many hours of fresh, fascinating exploration in the baby culture. Just how controlled are you over the color you wear even as adults or senior citizens? Think about that and then read about it in Pink and Blue.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Petal88 on April 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book for anyone horrified by current pink and blue extremes for boys and girls, or anyone just interested in fashion history. Highly readable, which is impressive for an academic. I liked it a lot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JW on November 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The author of this book is an academic but her book is very accessible to the layperson. In this intriguing work, Jo Paoletti uses a wide variety of sources to outline the evolution of gendered clothing for infants and young children in America.

For hundreds of years before the 18th century, Europeans & Americans uniformly dressed female and male babies and toddlers in identical ("non-gendered") clothing - namely long white dresses that were easy for mothers to sew themselves, that made diapering easy and laundering less damaging (white cloth could be repeatedly bleached with no ill effects), and that could be used by baby after baby. Parents at that time believed that accentuating the gender of babies in any way was inappropriate and inferred sexuality. Colors were gender neutral although pastel colors in general were considered appropriate for babies but if an association between a specific color & specific gender was required, it was usually boys with pink and girls with blue. By 1820, the long skirts for young children were getting shorter and pantalettes (loose pants with ruffles, lace, or other detailing worn under the dress or skirt) became common for both genders. Before 1850, it was hard for people to determine a child's gender just by looking at them but in the later 1800s, boys' clothing changed. They remained in skirts but the skirts became more "manly" - little costumes of sailors, Scottish highlanders or soldiers were common. Gradually, more parents began shifting male babies to pants when they were around 6 months of age. One factor impacting the popularity of pants was the increased availability and affordability of ready-made clothing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By swishina on November 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I read this book for the same reason the author gives for writing it: I discovered that not very long ago, pink was considered a color for boys. This led to the discovery that the colors pink and blue were basically arbitrarily assigned. And now they have taken over.

This book outlines the history of baby and toddler dress in America over the last ~125 years. It is academic, but readable. The first chapter was a bit thick to get through but I was more interested after that. I found the diversity of sources - antique baby books, preserved children's clothing, manufacturers advertising materials - fascinating and useful. The author's analysis of the effect of various factors on what babies wear was also interesting and included aspects such as generational differences, women's liberation movement, and the recent availability of gender sonograms.
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