What Colours Mean: Blue

DISCOVERING YOU, July 2010, by Alicja Zajac


Ahh, summer! There is nothing quite as beautiful as a blue sky with a few soft, puffy clouds in the distance reflected in a lake at the cottage.  Blue is so peaceful and serene. So why is it that supposedly 'blue is for boys and pink is for girls'? Have you ever questioned the existence of that stereotype? Who started it? I know lots of girls who aren't crazy about pink and who adore the colour blue. Most blue-eyed girls love to wear various shades of blue because it enhances their blue eye colour. A deep midnight blue makes brown eyes look soft and mysterious and green eyes pop when an outfit is electric blue.

Long ago it was Blue for Girls and Pink for Boys

In the 1700's an artist named Gainsborough painted a portrait that has become famous over the centuries. It is of a teenage boy and is titled, 'Blue Boy'. Many people thought that this was when the colour blue started to be used traditionally for boys. However, that isn't true because he also painted a portrait of a younger boy and called the painting 'Pink Boy'. The two portraits were painted to be displayed together as companion pieces.

Long ago, in the Christian tradition, red was considered to be a strong, male colour so the softer pink was used for boys. Blue on the other hand was associated with Mary the mother of Jesus, so females wore blue and baby girls were dressed in pastel blue.

In 1927, before medical research had discovered how to determine the gender of the unborn fetus, the Crown Prince of Belgium was certain that his consort, Princess Astrid would 'give him' a son. A news clip from a 1927 issue of Time magazine states: "The cradle . . . had been optimistically outfitted in pink, the color for boys, that for a girl being blue." The ending you may have guessed was that Princess Astrid had to redecorate the nursery in blue because she gave birth to a little girl.

The Switch!

So – when did blue and pink switch camps? After World War I, men's uniforms were mainly blue. It wasn't long before blue became associated with masculinity. Advertisers began pushing blue as a masculine colour and pink as a feminine color since the 1940's. 'Think Pink' was a marketing slogan created to convince women that dressing in pink made them appear more feminine. Little girls were therefore dressed in pink and little boys in blue.

Remember the nursery rhyme about the little shepherd boy who falls asleep and lets the sheep and cattle get into the gardens? It starts: “Little boy blue, Come blow your horn. The sheep's in the meadow, The cow's in the corn...” In picture books, he is always wearing blue.

What else can we learn about blue?

In Feng Shui, the color blue belongs to the water element and is used in the east, southeast and north sides of the home. They say if you place artwork or decor items in the east area of your home and your rooms you support health and family relations. If you place them in the southeast you promote wealth and abundance.

Gentle blue is an excellent feng shui choice for study, especially as a ceiling color. Several studies have shown that children worked better under a blue-colored ceiling then under a regular white one. If you need restful sleep, decorate your room in calm, soft blues. The addition of deep night-blue accent pillows and even a little earthy tan helps you to have a room where you can feel grounded and well-rested. Add some green or pink though – either flowers in a tall vase, soft throws or a couple of pillows – because too much blue can tend to make you feel a bit down and you will appreciate the splashes of colour that are uplifting. Add a gentle, playful aqua in the living room of a big, busy family.

Temperatures of Blue

One of the most calming feng shui combinations is the combination of the blue and white colors, as it brings the energy of unlimited sky and happiness to your space. The combination of white and blue is fresh and clean. And to feel cooler on hot sunny days, soft pale blue somehow makes you feel and even look a lot cooler than if you were to wear yellow, pink or red. If you want to grab attention, combine blue with yellow. Deep blue and silver can be elegant and stately. Gray silk or satin adds elegance to blue. A combination of deep blue, watery blue and light, watery green gives rich coolness. Blue with purple gives a spiritual, mystical quality.

Blue and Your Emotions

The colour blue helps to give the feeling of confidence, without the controlling power of red. If you are meeting with a group and have a leadership role, or if you are going for an interview, the best colour to wear is navy or midnight blue. It will help to put forth the feeling of intelligence, confidence, stability and calmness. Add some youthful brightness to your dark blue outfit - a white or soft gray top, a scarf with blue and other pleasant pastel colours, silver earrings... and you are all set to make a great impression.

Blue Phrases
- Someone who is 'true blue' is loyal and faithful
- When something happens 'out of the blue', it is an unexpected event
- A 'blue ribbon prize' is a top prize
- Someone who is a 'blueblood' is a person of noble birth
- 'The Blues' is a style of music that may have a sad theme and melody
- 'Baby blues' are your eyes of blue
- You are 'feeling blue' when you feel sad or depressed
- If you say it's a 'Blue Monday' it means you are feeling sad
- 'Blue language' is inappropriate, profane language

Blue Words
If you are an artist or a designer, you will want to know the various shades of the color blue: Sapphire, azure, beryl, cerulean, cobalt, indigo, navy, royal, sky blue, baby blue, robin's egg blue, cyan, cornflower blue, midnight blue, slate, steel blue, Prussian blue.

Blue Facts
- In Iran, blue is the color of mourning while in the West the something blue bridal tradition represents love.
- In some cultures blue is said to bring peace, or is believed to keep the bad spirits away.
- Some colourblind people can see blue but they cannot see the colour pink. To them, it looks like beige.
- Blue stars are the hottest stars. Most stars are currently classified using the letters O, B, A, F, G, K and M, where O stars are the hottest and the letter sequence indicates successively cooler stars up to the coolest M class. According to an informal tradition, O stars are "blue", B "blue-white", A stars "white", F stars "yellow-white", G stars "yellow", K stars "orange", and M stars "red", even though the actual star colors perceived by an observer may deviate from these colors depending on visual conditions and individual stars observed.

~ Alicja

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