How do you feel about the colour Pink?
Has it become horribly stereotyped as being all about girliness, of being a princess, or … does it signify breast cancer awareness or support? Or is it just a colour which you either like or don’t?
When my granddaughter was born, the “no pink” message was spread to family members. While my mother argued, I supported the decision. Firstly, because I know if my granddaughter decides she wants to wear pink … she will, but also I’d no intention of buying pink, for I agreed with their sentiment.
Thing is, I haven’t always felt negatively about the colour. There are photographs of my sister and I as little girls in matching dresses, identical in every way except for the colour. My sister’s dress was hot orange, mine was hot pink – both styled as per the Beatles Sergeant Pepper outfits. As an early teen, I recall my first pair of hot pants being pale pink (and worn with cream canvas ribbon-laced boots – what can I say, it was the 60s!) In my early twenties, there’s a photo of me wearing a hot pink bikini, which I recall being my favourite at the time for it was truly excellent at showing off my tan. Clearly, I didn’t have any negative feelings towards pink.
Yet when my daughter was born, I realised that a horrifyingly early start is made with regard to gender conditioning in marketing and society, of there being separate and different clothes for boys and clothes for girls, even when they’re tiny babies. Now a babygro is the most neutral of clothing items, yet people were horrified if I dressed my daughter in a blue one. They acted like I’d cheated, or deliberately made them look foolish for assuming she was a boy when dressed in blue, that I was somehow obligated to dress my daughter in shades of pink. What …?
Total strangers were the worst. I stopped correcting them when they referred to my daughter as him or a boy. I decided the way to defend my boundaries in those circumstances was to exclude their words rather than engage or argue with their views.
Despite not having an aversion to pink, I was undoubtedly a tomboy. My daughter managed to be both feminine, and one of the lads. She ran uncomplainingly (and fast) for trains in her high heels, and drank beer rather than more expensive options when out with the lads, yet enjoyed dressing up, doing her hair, nails and make-up ahead of girls nights out with Prosecco. On her 21st birthday, she asked for suede boots … in dusky pink, for she had no problem with the colour itself. Despite being assaulted by gender stereotyping from birth, she’d managed to find her own path to tread.
I don’t wear pink anymore but, to be honest, that’s more because my skin tends to flush and I don’t need anything which makes me look more like a beacon. But there is no doubting the colour has a bad name.
My rugby team’s colours include pink – or magenta to give it the proper name – but I’ve noticed that they’ve been stealthily changing its tone towards a darker red over the years. One outcome being – sadly – that they no longer pick the sexiest and most manly of players to model the pink shirt!
One final, serious word on the pinkification of breast cancer. Breast cancer charities are the most successful of all cancer related charities, and I fervently hope there’s a direct correlation between improvements in research and treatments to that success. As someone who’s had breast cancer and been fortunate it has remained at bay for approaching 10 years, I cringe at some of the “pink” methodologies employed by these charities, because I’ve lost far too many friends to the disease to feel comfortable with their marketing style.
Tell me your reactions to Pink – be they fabulous or furious. I mean, it’s just a colour, right …?
© Debra Carey, 2020