Woman Returns Pink Baby Shirt to Store: 'My Husband Won't Let My Son Wear It'

A children's clothing store has shared that a woman recently returned a pink T-shirt purchased for her son because he husband didn't want the infant wearing the "girly" color.

On the Facebook last week, Fred & Noah posted that the woman told the store the shirt, a $20 fuchsia tee with a giraffe on it , "[is a] beautiful top but my husband won't let my son wear it."

The post asked followers if they dress their sons in pink if they want to wear it, before teasing that the tee was also available in "boy appropriate" colors, too.

We had a pink T shirt returned to us today and the reason stated “ Beautiful top but my husband won’t let my son wear...

Posted by Fred & Noah on Friday, June 28, 2019

Commenters to the thread supported dressing children in whatever color made them happy.

"My son mixes all his colours and loves to be a princess," wrote one mom. "My daughter is exactly the same and loves to wear Ernie's clothes. I think it all stems from us as a family being quite open and fluid about everything."

"I absolutely love this," added another. "My son owns a lot of pink this summer and is rocking it. It's just a colour."

One parent said she noticed her son's view about appropriate clothing colors has changed as he's gotten older.

"Before he started nursery, he loved pink, wore princess dresses for dressing up, likewise would play with cars and diggers... he was totally care free," she wrote. "Quite soon after starting nursery he told me that princesses are for girls, that pink is girly, etc. It's a shame that other children's and adults' opinions have already had such a big impact on him at just 4 years old."

Established in 2014, Fred & Noah is a small UK brand run by husband and wife team Daniel and Natalie Reynolds. The incident with the return came during Pride month, when retailers from Levi's to the Gap were launching LGBTQ-inclusive collections. And in recent years, major retailers, including Zara and H&M have begun expanding gender-neutral options and getting away from stereotypes about men and women's clothing.

But when it comes to children's clothing—a $69 billion industry—old notions are slow to change.

Ironically, pink was historically a boy's color: "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls," noted a June 1918 article in the trade publication Earnshaw's Infants' Department. "The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

Historian Jo B. Paoletti, author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America, says that, for generations, babies were usually dressed in frilly white dresses, regardless of their sex. In the late 19th century, pastel colors—including pink and blue—came into vogue, but neither was tied to a certain gender until the 1910s.

"What was once a matter of practicality—you dress your baby in white dresses and diapers; white cotton can be bleached—became a matter of 'Oh my God, if I dress my baby in the wrong thing, they'll grow up perverted,'" Paoletti told Smithsonian magazine.

In a 1927Time magazine article, leading U.S. department stores listed gender-appropriate colors: Shops like Filenes, Marshall Field and Best & Co all suggested pink for boys.

It wasn't until the 1940s and '50s that pink became associated with girls, at least in the U.S. In the 1957 film Funny Face, fashion editor Maggie Prescott Kay Thompson) declares woman must "think pink!" and "banish the blue and burn the black!"

While Mamie Eisenhower was First Lady, the White House featured so much pink furniture it got the nickname "the Pink Palace." The color also was beloved by Jayne Mansfield, a larger-than-life symbol of femininity.

By the 1980s and '90s, the availability of prenatal testing to determine a baby's sex meant expectant parents could start gender-coding their child before he or she was even born. Today, you'll find blue diapers for boys, pink car seats for girls, and an infinite variety of gender-reveal cakes that enshrine the tradition of color-coding babies.