Words of Wisdom and Encouragement


"If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart; so it has been with the best people who have ever lived." -Jeffrey R. Holland 

Be brave, my heart. <3 Have courage, my soul.

If you feel you don't fit in, in this world, it's because you're here to build a better one.

"Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, 'You owe me.'
Look what happens with a love like that - it lights the whole sky." -Hafiz, The Gift

May you always see the light, even in the darkness.

Surround yourself with people who love you for being you.

May the voices that cheer you on, always be louder than those that don't.

Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it.
Right is right, even if only YOU are doing it.

Today, a caterpillar. Tomorrow, a butterfly.
Don't lose hope. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

"Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren't your problem. You stay kind, committed to LOVE, and free in your authenticity. No matter what they do or say, don't you dare doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep on SHINING like you do." -Scott Stabile

"Hate has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet." -Maya Angelou

"The coolest people I've ever met have the most colorful pasts. They've lived lives of risk, made bad choices, learned lessons, explored, and they're not afraid of being real. Tattered tapestries woven of similar threads, they're my kind of people - my favorite shades of crazy." -Stephen L. Lizotte

Self-help
How to stop time: kiss.
How to travel in time: read.
How to escape time: music.
How to feel time: write.
How to release time: breathe.

What's the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since Day One she's already had everything she needs within herself. It's the world that convinced her she did not. -Rupi Kaur

Everyone wants to be the sun to lighten up someone's life; but why not be the moon to brighten in the darkest hour...

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

"The best thing you can do as a father is make sure they see how you love their mother." -Matthew McConaughey

Sometimes it's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe.

People inspire you or they drain you. Pick them wisely. -Hans F. Hansen











Loveness in the Brokenness

By Kathleen Fleming, Majestic Unicorn



This was my hallway last Wednesday.

Broken. Sharp. Treacherous.

This was my hallway. It was my son who did this.

Sometimes, often really, things break - irreparably. And it takes your breath away...straight away. It took my breath away when my son stormed into the bathroom, frustrated, angry, fed-up for his very own, very significant to him, reasons. And when he chose to SLAM the bathroom door, causing the heavy mirror mounted to the front to slip out of the hardware holding it in place and crash onto the floor - a million, BROKEN pieces were left reflecting the afternoon light.

I was quiet.

I surveyed the damage and took a deep breath.

Put the dog outside so he wouldn't cut his feet, put the cat in the basement for the same reason.

I walked into the backyard and felt the hot tears streaming down my face. It's amazing how alone you can feel as a single parent in moments like these. I realized how scared and disappointed I felt. Did this really just happen? Yes. This was real. And as I stood and considered whether or not this was an indication of his developing character, I heard his tears through the window above me, coming from inside the bathroom. His soul hurt. This was not what he expected either. Hello, Anger - I don't remember inviting you into my house. Scary. Terrified. Ashamed. Worried. Scared.

Deep breath, #MamaWarrior. Deep breath.

That small, fragile soul needs you right now. He needs your very best. Your biggest compassion. Your most gentle and firm mama love and reassurance. More deep breaths. Go Mama. Go. Go now. Go open the front door, tiptoe through the broken glass, hear him hearing you coming, watch the bathroom door crack open, see the face you love most in the world red with worry and wet with tears, his voice is suddenly so small: "Mama, I'll never do it again, I am SO sorry." More tears. More weeping. Such uncertainty on his sweet face.

Go Mama. Get him. Go now. Scoop him into your lap. Yup, you're crying too. Damn this was big. Hold him tight. Watch how he curls into a ball in your arms so quickly. See how eager he is to be loved by you. To be reassured by you. See how small he still is. See how fragile that spirit is.

I love you.
You are safe.
I am right here.

The worst part is over now. I've got you. I'm here. I love you. Go Mama. Tell him about Anger. Tell him now. Anger is a really powerful feeling. You have a right to your Anger. Anger burns hot. It can purify. It can also destroy. He nods. He feels it. He's met Anger now. There's a better way to show your big feelings. We'll work on it together...tomorrow.

I'm here to help you. You are safe. You are never alone in your anger. You are never alone in your fears. I'm here. We're here together.

Now we will clean together.

And we cleaned up the broken pieces. We swept and we vacuumed. It was quiet work. It was careful work. It was thoughtful work.

Sometimes things break. Sometimes we break them. It's not the breaking that matters, the how or why. What matters is how we choose to respond to the broken-ness. Does it kill us? Does it throw us into a downward spiral of blame and punishment? OR does it help us remember how to love deepest? Does it push us towards compassion and over the hurdle of "rightness" and "wrongness" into LOVENESS? Yes. LOVENESS.

Go Mama. Go now. Get that baby of yours. Teach that. Show that. Live that. It's called LOVENESS. Go. Now.

Mother Love by Lulu, United Arab Emirates | Find more art by Lulu at Deviant Art


Related Reading: 

About the author.
Read more from Fleming at Majestic Unicorn and find her on Facebook here.

Tackling Distress Tantrums with Brain Research
DrMomma.org/2010/01/tackling-distress-tantrums-with-brain.html

When Things Get Physical: Hitting, Throwing, Kicking, Biting
DrMomma.org/2013/11/when-things-get-physical-hitting.html

Love Matters
DrMomma.org/2018/02/love-matters.html

Why Spanking is Never Okay
DrMomma.org/2010/09/why-spanking-is-never-okay.html

Peaceful Parenting Group
FB.com/groups/ExplorePeacefulParenting




Love, that is to nurse


No safer place in the world,
No better place to rest.
No calmer harbour can be found,
Than that of Mother’s breast.

No poetry brings it justice,
No rhyme or ancient verse.
One word only can love describe,
Love, that is to nurse. 💛

via PD Photography
MUA: @theminkzbox
Tribal Art: @kustom_stuff

The Breastfeeding Group




The Placenta Does Not Age or Fail Post-Dates


"A review of the available evidence indicates that the placenta does not undergo a true aging change during pregnancy. There is, in fact, no logical reason for believing that the placenta, which is a fetal organ, should age while the other fetal organs do not: the situation in which an individual organ ages within an organism that is not aged is one which does not occur in any biological system. The persisting belief in placental aging has been based on a confusion between morphological maturation and differentiation and aging, a failure to appreciate the functional resources of the organ, and an uncritical acceptance of the overly facile concept of 'placental insufficiency' as a cause of increased perinatal mortality."

Related:

Happy Pills! One way to encapsulate on your own: http://www.DrMomma.org/2010/08/happy-pills-placenta-encapsulation.html 

Ode to My Placenta: http://www.DrMomma.org/2017/09/ode-to-my-placenta.html

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother: https://amzn.to/2QtlEQg

The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality: https://amzn.to/2Pys7nU

Chocolate Placenta Truffles: http://www.DrMomma.org/2012/04/chocolate-placenta-truffles.html 

Placenta - the Forgotten Chakra: https://amzn.to/2PxY0g0

Lotus Birth: http://www.DrMomma.org/2010/08/lotus-birth.html

Fish Can't See Water: The Need To Humanize Birth: http://www.DrMomma.org/2009/08/fish-cant-see-water-need-to-humanize.html

The Lie of the Estimated Due Date (EDD): http://www.DrMomma.org/2009/06/lie-of-estimated-due-date-edd-why-your.html

Why Pregnancy Due Dates are Inaccurate: http://www.DrMomma.org/2009/09/why-pregnancy-due-dates-are-inaccurate.html

Fetal Lungs Protein Release Triggers Labor to Begin: http://www.DrMomma.org/2008/01/fetal-lungs-protein-release-triggers.html

Trusting Birth: 43 Weeks of Faith: http://www.DrMomma.org/2013/09/trusting-birth-43-weeks-of-faith.html

Placenta keychain (fun gift for the birth advocate in your life): https://amzn.to/2PxBF2n

Plush placenta (education, awareness raising, fun): https://amzn.to/2LaegmY

_______

Fox, Harold. Aging of the placenta. Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal and Neonatal Edition 1997;77:F171-F175. Full text: http://fn.bmj.com/content/77/3/F171

It is widely believed that during the relatively short duration of a normal pregnancy the placenta progressively ages and is, at term, on the verge of a decline into morphological and physiological senescence.1-3 This belief is based on the apparent convergence of clinical, structural, and functional data, all of which have been taken, rather uncritically, as supporting this concept of the placenta as an aging organ with, all too often, no distinction being made between time related changes and true aging changes. I will review some of these concepts and consider whether the placenta truly undergoes an aging process. For the purposes of this review an aging change is considered to be one which is intrinsic, detrimental, and progressive and which results in an irreversible loss of functional capacity, an impaired ability to maintain homeostasis, and decreased ability to repair damage.

Morphological changes

The placenta is unusual in so far as its basic histological structure undergoes a considerable change throughout its lifespan. For some time it has been customary to describe the appearances of the placental villi in terms of their changing appearance as pregnancy progresses, comparing, for instance, typical first trimester villi with those in third trimester placentas. It has often been implied that this changing appearance is an aging process, but it is now recognized that this temporal variability in villous appearances reflects the continual development and branching of the villous tree (fig 1) In recent years the relation between the growth of the villous tree and the villous histological appearances has been formally codified5-8with identification of five types of villi (fig 2).


Figure 1 Diagrammatic representation of a peripheral villous tree, showing a large central stem villus: the lateral branches from this are the mature intermediate villi from which the terminal villi protrude.


Figure 2  Representation of the peripheral branches of a mature villous tree together with typical cross sections of the five villous types. The figures are reproduced from Haines & Taylor. Textbook of Obstetrical and Gynaecological Pathology. 4th Edn. 1995, by kind permission of Churchill Livingstone and Professor P Kaufmann.

1 Mesenchymal villi 

These represent a transient stage in placental development and they can differentiate into either mature or immature intermediate villi. They comprise the first generation of newly formed villi and are derived from trophoblastic sprouts by mesenchymal invasion and vascularisation. They are found mainly in the early stages of pregnancy but a few may still be found at term They have complete trophoblastic mantles with many cytotrophoblastic cells and regularly dispersed nuclei in the syncytiotrophoblast: their loose, immature-type stroma is abundant and contains a few Hobauer cells, together with poorly developed fetal capillaries.

2 Immature intermediate villi 

These are peripheral extensions of the stem villi and are the predominant form seen in immature placentas. These villi have a well preserved trophoblastic mantle in which cytotrophoblastic cells are numerous; the syncytial nuclei are evenly dispersed and there are no syncytial knots or vasculo-syncytial membranes. They have an abundant loose stroma that contains many Hofbauer cells: capillaries, arterioles, and venules are present.

3 Stem villi 

These comprise the primary stems which connect the villous tree to the chorionic plate, up to four generations of short thick branches and further generations of dichotomous branches. Their principal role is to serve as a scaffolding for the peripheral villous tree, and up to one third of the total volume of the villous tissue of the mature placenta is made up of this villous type, the proportion of such villi being highest in the central subchorial portion of the villous tree. Histologically, the stem villi have a compact stroma and contain either arteries and veins or arterioles and venules; superficially located capillaries may also be present.

4  Mature intermediate villi 

These are the peripheral ramifications of the villous stems from which most terminal villi directly arise. They are large (60–150 μm in diameter) and contain capillaries admixed with small arterioles and venules, the vessels being set in a very loose stroma which occupies more than half of the villous volume. The syncytiotrophoblast has a uniform structure, no knots or vasculo-syncytial membranes being present. Up to a quarter of the villi in a mature placenta are of this type.

5 Terminal villi 

These are the final ramifications of the villous tree and are grape-like outgrowths from mature intermediate villi. They contain capillaries, many of which are sinusoidally dilated to occupy most of the cross sectional diameter of the villus. The syncytiotrophoblast is thin and the syncytial nuclei are irregularly dispersed. Syncytial knots may be present and vasculo-syncytial membranes are commonly seen. These terminal villi begin to appear at about the 27th week of gestation and account for 30–40 per cent of the villous volume, 50 per cent of the villous surface area, and 60 per cent of villi seen in cross section at term.

The pattern of development of the villous tree is therefore as follows: During the early weeks of pregnancy all the villi are of the mesenchymal type. Between the 7th and 8th weeks mesenchymal villi begin to transform into immature intermediate villi and these subsequently transform into stem villi. Development of additional immature intermediate villi from mesenchymal villi gradually ceases at the end of the second trimester, but these immature intermediate villi continue to mature into stem villi and only a few persist to term as growth zones in the centres of the lobules. At the beginning of the third trimester mesenchymal villi stop transforming into immature intermediate villi and start transforming into mature intermediate villi. The latter serve as a framework for the terminal villi which begin to appear shortly afterwards and predominate at term.

This progressive elaboration of the villous tree results in a predominance of terminal villi in the mature placenta. Such villi have been conventionally classed as “third trimester villi” and a comparison of their structure with the predominant type of villi in the first trimester— immature intermediate villi—has led many to suggest that as pregnancy progresses the villous trophoblast becomes irregularly thinned and the cytotrophoblast regresses, changes interpreted as being of an aging nature. The villous cytotrophoblast, which is a stem cell for the trophoblast, does not in reality regress, because the absolute number of these cells in the placenta is not decreased at term and in fact continues to increase throughout pregnancy. The apparent sparsity of these cells is due to their wider dispersion within a greatly increased total placental mass.9 10 The focal thinning of the villous syncytiotrophoblast apparent in many terminal villi has often been cited as evidence of syncytial senescence. These thinned areas are, in reality, the “vasculo-syncytial membranes”11 which, although formed in part by mechanical stretching of the trophoblast by ballooning capillary loops,12 never the less differ enzymatically and ultrastructurally from the non-membranous areas of the syncytium and are areas of the syncytiotrophoblast specifically differentiated for the facilitation of gas transfer.13 These membranes are therefore a manifestation of topographic functional differentiation within the trophoblast.

The interlinked, but separate, processes of maturation of the villous tree and functional differentiation of the trophoblast result in a predominant villous form that is optimally adapted for materno-fetal transfer diffusion mechanisms: the morphological changes substantially increase trophoblastic surface area14 and a significantly reduce the harmonic mean of the diffusion distance between maternal and fetal blood,15 with a resulting increase in the conductance of oxygen diffusion.16

It is not mere pedantry to distinguish between maturation, which results in increased functional efficiency, and aging, which results in decreased functional efficiency. In this respect it is worth noting that a proportion of placentas from women with severe pre-eclampsia look unusually mature for the length of the period of gestation: this is usually classed as “premature aging” but it would be more accurate to regard the changes as being due to accelerated maturation, this being a compensatory mechanism to increase the transfer capacity of the placenta in the face of an adverse maternal environment.

It has to be admitted that the control mechanisms of placental maturation are unknown. There are many agents thought to be of importance in the control of placental growth, including cytokines, growth factors, oncogenes, prostaglandins and leucotrienes,17-20 but it far from clear as to whether control of growth can be equated with control of maturation. However, villous development, certainly in the later stages of pregnancy, does seem to be driven principally by proliferation of endothelial cells and capillary growth.21 Vascular endothelial growth factors are present in placental tissue22 and the suggestion that hypoxia may stimulate angiogenesis,23 and thus have a significant role in placental development, would corroborate the accelerated placental maturation seen in some cases of maternal pre-eclampsia.

Placental growth 

It has long been maintained that placental growth and DNA synthesis cease at about the 36th week of gestation and that any subsequent increase in placental size is due to an increase in cell size rather than to an increase in the number of cells.24Simple histological examination of the term placenta will, however, serve to refute this view, because immature intermediate villi are often present in the centres of lobules and these clearly represent a persistent growth zone. Furthermore, total placental DNA content continues to increase in an almost linear manner until and beyond the 42nd week of gestation.25 This finding agrees with autoradiographic and flow cytometric studies that have shown continuing DNA synthesis in the term organ,26-28 and with morphometric investigations that have shown persistent villous growth, continuing expansion of the villous surface area, and progressive branching of the villous tree up to and beyond term.14 29

Placental growth certainly slows, but clearly does not cease, during the last few weeks of gestation, although this decline in growth rate is neither invariable nor irreversible, because the placenta can continue to increase in size if faced with an unfavourable maternal environment, such as pregnancy at high altitude, or severe maternal anaemia, while the potential for a recrudescence of growth is shown by the proliferative response to ischaemic syncytial damage. Those who contend that a decreased placental growth rate during late pregnancy is evidence of senescence often seem be comparing the placenta with an organ such as the gut, in which continuing viability depends on a constantly replicating stem cell layer producing short-lived postmitotic cells. A more apt comparison would be with an organ such as the liver, which is formed principally of long-lived postmitotic cells and which, once an optimal size has been attained to meet the metabolic demands placed on it, shows little evidence of cell proliferation while retaining a latent capacity for growth activity. There seems no good reason why the placenta, once it has reached a size sufficient to adequately meet its transfer function, should continue to grow, and the term placenta, with its considerable functional reserve capacity, has more than met this aim.

Functional activity 

There have been few vertical studies of placental function throughout pregnancy, but there is no evidence that any of the major indices of placental function decline—namely, proliferative, transfer, and secretory capacities.30 As already remarked, the diffusion conductance of the organ is increased, largely as a result of morphological changes, but there is considerable evidence that specific placental carrier mediated transfer systems are also augmented.20 The placental production of hormones continues unabated until term: the synthesis of human chorionic gonadotrophin declines towards the end of the first trimester but this is clearly due to a gene switch which results in progressively increasing secretion of human placental lactogen.

The placenta also retains its full proliferative capacity until term as shown by its ability to repair and replace, as a result of proliferation in the villous cytotrophoblastic cells, of a villous syncytiotrophoblast that has been ischaemically damaged in women with severe pre-eclampsia.13

Clinical factors 

The single most important factor leading to a belief in placental senescence has been the apparently increased fetal morbidity and mortality associated with prolonged pregnancy, this traditionally being attributed to “placental insufficiency” consequent on senescence of the organ.1 31 In the past it was thought that about 11% of pregnancies extended to or beyond the 42nd week of gestation32 33 : the introduction of a routine ultrasound examination in early pregnancy reduced the incidence of prolonged pregnancies to about 6%34 and it has even been claimed that with very accurate dating studies the incidence of truly prolonged gestations does not exceed 1%.35 This casts some doubt on the validity of a great deal of the historical information about the risks and ill effects of prolonged pregnancy, but it is never the less widely accepted that perinatal mortality increases after the 42nd week of gestation.36

Any increase in perinatal mortality after the 42nd week of gestation is due, in part, to the high incidence of fetal macrosomia: 10% of infants from prolonged pregnancies weigh over 4000 g and 1% over 4500 g and these fetuses are at particular risk of complications such as shoulder dystocia. The presence of this large number of macrosomic fetuses is a clear indication that, in this subset at least, the placenta continues to function well beyond the 40th week of gestation and remains capable of sustaining untrammelled fetal growth.

The classic clinical syndrome of the “postmature” infant1 31 is not commonly seen today but seems to be clearly related to the development of oligohydramnios. There is no doubt that amniotic fluid volume tends to decrease in a proportion of prolonged pregnancies39 and that oligohydramnios is associated with a high incidence of fetal heart rate decelerations.36 This has been attributed by some to cord compression,40 41 but one study, while confirming that cord compression is common in prolonged pregnancies, was unable to correlate such compression with fetal acidosis.42 It is often assumed, and indeed commonly stated, that the decline in amniotic fluid volume in these cases is an indication of “placental insufficiency” but, in reality, there is no evidence that in late pregnancy the placenta plays any part in the production of amniotic fluid or in the control of amniotic fluid volume. 43

The two most potent causes of increased morbidity in prolonged pregnancy are therefore clearly unrelated to any change in placental functional capacity. Examination of placentas from prolonged pregnancies shows no evidence of any increased incidence of gross placental abnormalities, such as infarcts, calcification, or massive perivillous fibrin deposition. The most characteristic histological abnormality, found in a proportion of cases but certainly not in all, is decreased fetal perfusion of the placental villi.13 The fetal villous vessels are normal in placentas from prolonged pregnancies44 and Doppler flow velocimetry studies have, in general but not unanimously, indicated that there is no increased fetal vascular resistance in such placentas.45-47 The decreased fetal perfusion is therefore probably a consequence of oligohydramnios, because umbilical vein flow studies have shown that fetal blood flow to the placenta is often reduced in cases of oligohydramnios.48

It has to be admitted that the pathophysiology of prolonged pregnancy has not been fully elucidated. It seems, however, quite clear that any ill effects which may befall the fetus in prolonged gestations can not be attributed to placental insufficiency or senescence.

Conclusions 

A review of the available evidence indicates that the placenta does not undergo a true aging change during pregnancy. There is, in fact, no logical reason for believing that the placenta, which is a fetal organ, should age while the other fetal organs do not: the situation in which an individual organ ages within an organism that is not aged is one which does not occur in any biological system. The persisting belief in placental aging has been based on a confusion between morphological maturation and differentiation and aging, a failure to appreciate the functional resources of the organ, and an uncritical acceptance of the overly facile concept of “placental insufficiency” as a cause of increased perinatal mortality.

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Fox HHytten F (1987) Physiology and pathology of amniotic fluid formation. in Haines and Taylor: obstetrical and gynaecological pathology. ed Fox H (Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh), 3rd edn. pp 1177–1182.

Larsen LG, Clausen HV, Anderson B, Graem N (1995) A stereologic study of postmature placentas fixed by dual perfusion. Am J Obstet Gynecol 175:500–507.

Guidetti DA, Divon MY, Cavalieri RL, Langer O, Merkatz IR (1987) Fetal umbilical artery flow velocimetry in postdate pregnancies. Am J Obstet Gynecol 157:1521–1523.

Stokes HJ, Roberts RV, Newnham JP (1991) Doppler flow waveform velocity analysis in post-date pregnancies. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 31:27–30.

Zimmermann P, Alback T, Koskinen J, et al. (1995) Doppler flow velocimetry of the umbilical artery, uteroplacental arteries and fetal middle cerebral artery in prolonged pregnancy. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 5:189–197.

Gill RW, Warren PS, Garrett WJ, Kossoff G, Stewart A (1993) Umbilical vein blood flow. Chervenack FA, Isaacson GC, Campbell S. eds. Ultrasound in obstetrics and gynecology. (Little, Brown, Boston), pp 587–595.

When Pink Was For Boys, Blue For Girls, Dresses for All

By Jeanne Maglaty for Smithsonian
Read More at SmithsonianMag.com
At Peaceful Parenting with permission.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in pastel pink and white, New York, 1884. 
Common dress and appearance for young boys at this time in U.S. history.

Little Franklin Delano Roosevelt sits primly on a stool, his white skirt spread smoothly over his lap, his hands clasping a hat trimmed with a marabou feather. Shoulder-length hair and patent leather party shoes complete the ensemble. Some may find the look unsettling today, yet social convention of 1884, when FDR was photographed at age 2 1/2, dictated that boys wore dresses until age 6 or 7, also the time of their first haircut.

Franklin’s outfit was considered gender-neutral. But nowadays "people just have to know the sex of a baby or young child at first glance," says Jo B. Paoletti, a historian at the University of Maryland and author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in AmericaThus we see, for example, a pink headband encircling the bald head of an infant girl. Why have young children’s clothing styles changed so dramatically? How did we end up with two “teams”—boys in blue and girls in pink?

Young boy, 1870

“It’s really a story of what happened to neutral clothing,” says Paoletti, who has explored the meaning of children’s clothing for 30 years. For centuries, she says, all children 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, if I dress my baby in the wrong thing, they’ll grow up perverted!'" Paoletti says.

The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out. For example, a June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department stated, "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. 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." Other sources said blue was flattering for blonds, pink for brunettes; or blue was for blue-eyed babies, pink for brown-eyed babies, according to Paoletti.

Young boy, late 1800s

In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene’s told parents to dress boys in pink. So did Best & Co. in New York City, Halle’s in Cleveland, and Marshall Field in Chicago. Today’s color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers. “It could have gone the other way,” Paoletti says. So the baby boomers were raised in gender-specific clothing. Boys dressed like their fathers, girls like their mothers. Girls had to wear dresses to school, though unadorned styles and tomboy play clothes were acceptable.

When the women’s liberation movement kicked things up in the mid-1960s, a more unisex look became the rage—but completely reversed from the time of young Franklin Roosevelt. Now young girls were dressing in masculine—or at least stereotypic 'unfeminine'—styles, devoid of gender hints. Paoletti found that in the 1970s, the Sears, Roebuck catalog pictured no pink toddler clothing for two years. "One of the ways [activists at the time] thought that girls were kind of lured into subservient roles as women was through gendered clothing," says Paoletti. "If we dress our girls more like boys and less like frilly little girls . . . they are going to have more options and feel freer to be active."

1960s blue romper patterns marketed for girls and boys

John Money, a sexual identity researcher at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, argued that gender was primarily learned through social and environmental cues. "This was one of the drivers back in the ’70s of the argument that it’s 'nurture not nature,'" Paoletti says. Gender-neutral clothing remained popular until about 1985. Paoletti remembers that year distinctly because it was between the births of her children, a girl in ’82 and a boy in ’86. "All of a sudden it wasn’t just a blue overall; it was a blue overall with a teddy bear holding a football," she says. Disposable diapers were manufactured in pink and blue.

Prenatal testing was a big reason for the change. Expectant parents learned the sex of their unborn baby and then went shopping for “girl” or “boy” merchandise. (“The more you individualize clothing, the more you can sell,” Paoletti says.) The pink fad spread from sleepers and crib sheets to big-ticket items such as strollers, car seats and riding toys. Affluent parents could conceivably decorate for baby No. 1, a girl, and start all over when the next child was a boy. More money is spent! Some young mothers who grew up in the 1980s deprived of pinks, lace, long hair and Barbies, Paoletti suggests, rejected the unisex look for their own daughters. “Even if they are still activists, they are perceiving those things in a different light than the baby boomer feminists did,” she says. “They think even if they want their girl to be a surgeon, there’s nothing wrong if she is a very feminine surgeon.”

Future King of Great Britain, George IV, 1896

Another important factor has been the rise of consumerism among children in recent decades. According to child development experts, children are just becoming conscious of their gender between ages 3 and 4, and they do not realize it’s permanent until age 6 or 7. At the same time, however, they are the subjects of sophisticated and pervasive advertising that tends to reinforce social conventions. “So they think, for example, that what makes someone female is having long hair and a dress,’’ says Paoletti. “They are so interested—and they are so adamant in their likes and dislikes.”

In researching and writing her book, Paoletti says, she kept thinking about the parents of children who don’t conform to gender roles: Should they dress their children to conform, or allow them to express themselves in their dress? “One thing I can say now is that I’m not real keen on the gender binary—the idea that you have very masculine and very feminine things. The loss of neutral clothing is something that people should think more about. And there is a growing demand for neutral clothing for babies and toddlers now, too.” “There is a whole community out there of parents and kids who are struggling with ‘My son really doesn’t want to wear boy clothes, prefers to wear girl clothes.’ ” She hopes one audience for her book will be people who study gender clinically. The fashion world may have divided children into pink and blue, but in the world of real individuals, not all is black and white.

Clarence Lacy Wise (b. April 16, 1892), son of Allen and Elnora Wise.
Donated to the Pendleton Historical Museum by Grace Bell.

Related:

Why Little Boys Wore Dresses
The Surprisingly Recent Time When Boys Wore Pink, Girls Wore Blue, and Both Wore Dresses
Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls from the Boys in America



Peaceful Parenting Books

"No parent is perfect. We're all just winging it and
doing the best we can along the way." -Danelle Frisbie

Cheers to all the imperfect, but always striving, peaceful parenting moms and dads out there! We know that life's daily bumps and bruises can stress and strain our abilities to be the parents we truly want to be, for the sake of our little ones. And yet, in the end, it is the love poured into each decision, step by step, as we look ahead to doing the best we can the next time around.

Peaceful parenting truly is about listening to our instincts, and watching/learning the cues of our babies and children. It is about tapping into the primal, attached manner of care that resides in us all. And consciously choosing to put our kids and their needs first, knowing that the days may feel long, but the years are so, so short -- and what we do right now will impact tomorrow, and forevermore, and generations to come.

No one needs books or 'experts' to tell you how to parent. You have the wisdom within. However, for those who love to understand the ins and outs of attachment development, neurological functioning, the whys and hows of gentle parenting, and gain tips and trouble shooting solutions along the way, these are some of the most excellent items that fellow peaceful parenting families have come to love. If you have another suggestion, please feel free to add it to the comments below or contact us.

Here's to happy, healthy babies and children, and a happy, whole world.

[Books update in progress - not all are listed yet.] 


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