I’ve been resisting the color pink for most of my life.
Various forces have been conspiring to erode my resistance for a while now.
For one thing, my boyfriend wears pink. Hot pink. And I’m envious.
Directing the pink gaze. (Photo by Elly Blue)Wherever we go, he turns heads. I can always find him in a crowd. Our fellow Amtrak riders may look at him askance, but whatever. He owns that color. And watching him rock it has made me hyper-aware of the limit I unconsciously set myself sometime well before puberty: I don’t wear pink. Won’t.
Pink clothes seem, now, like a privilege. One that I want. But one that still feels inaccessible, according to my inner sense of what is awesome vs what will lead to being patted on the head and asked to fetch coffee.
Recently I stumbled across a review of a book about gender and kids’ fashion. The history of pink and blue is not so straightforward as we might assume:
For example, a June 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department said, “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…
Well, I’m no brunette and I’m no boy, but I do believe it’s time to take this color back.
Unreconstructed tomboy in fancy dress. (Photo by Tomas Quinones) I don’t propose doing this with the fishnet stockings, economic dependence, and stripaerobics lessons that get all mixed up with feminism these days. You can’t upend the status quo by embracing it.
In fact, I probably won’t start wearing pink at all — lifetime habits die hard.
But I can make this blog whatever color I want. And, much as I’m still fighting it, pink is the only one that seems right.
On a bicycle, you can hug the right margin of the road, scurrying along apologetically. Or you can take up Vehicular Cycling, with its ideology that at first seem so revolutionary and is genuinely empowering — you are a vehicle and you behave just like any other vehicle! — but which requires renouncing all laws, norms, and infrastructure geared towards bicycling specifically. There’s a resulting tendency to blame other riders for whatever dangers and discomforts befall them. One gets the sense they’re being even harder on themselves. It’s its own kind of defeat.
Or you can acknowledge the forces, whether of clothing marketers or city planners, that have put you in whatever box you’re in. You can engage with them. You can rise above them and find a new way forward, taking whatever space, color, or identity is already yours.
You could call it a third way, though it may have to wait for the fourth wave.