A common phenomenon in The Netherlands is that with the birth of a child, “beschuit met muisjes” are served. If it’s a boy, the ‘muisjes’ are blue, if it’s a girl, they’re pink. But these colors have not always been assigned to these genders. If we go way back, boys and girls both wore white, comfortable clothing, in the 20th century it became normal to dress babies in pastel colors and after the first World War pink was assigned to boys and blue was for girls. In the 40s, manufacturers turned this around because it would be more profitable. There have been several occasions when people fought back to get everything back to gender neutral, but the partition stayed.
So the world hasn’t always been this gender specific and there is a change about to come. You give identity to your child by naming it. In the 50s it was common to give girls a boy name. In this case names were minimized, Klaas became Klaasje and Wil became Willempje. In America, this phenomenon is flourishing again. Children are given names that can be used for both boys and girls.
That gender neutrality is back on track, is also reflected in the Pantone Color of the Year 2016. For this years color is chosen for rose quartz and serenity (PANTONE 13-1520 & PANTONE 15-3919). It is the first time that there have been selected two colors that flow into each other. “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between embracing a warmer pink tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace. The prevalent combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity also challenges traditional perceptions of color association.” Pantone has properly analyzed the upcoming generation with their corresponding value. They use color as a form of expression and guarantee gender equality and fluidity.
The social media platform Facebook provides a wide range of gender options. Yet the number of options varies by country, but the company continues to add gender options so that users can identify themselves better on the Internet. “Now, if you do not identify with the pre-populated list of gender identities, you are able to add your own. As before, you can add up to ten gender terms and also have the ability to control the audience with whom you would like to share your custom gender. We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way.”
One step further is the usage of the term “androgyny”, which therefore goes a further than gender-neutral. When androgyny, genders are being mixed and are also called gender benders. Gender benders switch between the sexes. A well-known example is the model Andrej Pejic. His looks were assigned for both men and women shoots. After several years, the model has decided to move on as Andreja Pejic.
Also the website mindshakes.nl focuses on gender benders. Several interviews held with gender benders can be read here. The site pays much attention to gender neutrality and provides insight into the lives of different individuals. Words and images show very clear how different the lives of these gender benders are.
Fast fashion giant ZARA knows how to react on the growing need for gender neutrality. This need becomes visible particularly with Generation Z. They indicate that gender nowadays defines a person less as it did before. The company has an online section where they sell gender-free clothing. The models that wear the clothing are both men and women, making clear that it is unisex. Another label, Nobody Has To Know (NHTK), has been making gender-free clothing since 2014. The designs are time- and trend-less dress and at the same time sustainable.
Therefor we can assume that in future, with the birth of a child, the “beschuit met muisjes” will not only be blue or pink. They might even be mixed, or they’ll be purple, green or red. Current developments show that gender is no longer something that is established, or is predetermined. Your identity is no longer just based on your gender, but can bend much further and is (as seen in the model Adrej) variable. As a man or woman you no longer need to “fit” into gender stereotypes, but you can shape your individual self on tour own, authentic way.
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