Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Separating the Girls from the Boys—Author Explores How Consumer Culture Defines Identities

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Just who decided girls should wear pink, boys blue? In a talk at Washington College, author and scholar Jo Paoletti will share answers to that question and more. Based on research from her recently published book, Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America, Paoletti’s presentation will examine how consumer culture—from cartoons to fashion—shapes and defines the sexes in the United States, and how changing concepts of sexual identity, in turn, shape the culture.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will take place Wednesday, September 26, at 5 p.m. in Hynson Lounge of Hodson Hall on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.  A reception with the author will follow. The event is sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Department of History, the Gender Studies Program, and Phi Beta Kappa.  

Paoletti, an Associate Professor in the American Studies Department at the University of Maryland, holds degrees in apparel design and textiles and has tracked the changes in children’s clothing—and the meaning behind those changes—for three decades.  “It’s really a story of what happened to neutral clothing,” she explained in an article in Smithsonian in 2011, noting that both girls and boys once wore dainty white dresses up to age 6. “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.’ ”

For more on the speaker: http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~jpaol/.


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