Why this blog is pink

I’ve been resisting the color pink for most of my life.

Until now.

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.

joe at workDirecting 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.

DSCF1092Unreconstructed 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.

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9 Responses to “Why this blog is pink”

  1. Lx June 14, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Good post! While focusing on gender issues consider dropping binary pronouns like “boyfriend” for alternatives like “partner” “special friend” or “friend”. Gender is more than just Male or Female, and some people do not feel comfortable revealing the gender of their partner due to the social normality of referencing the perceived co-ed sex in a description of an intimate partner. Thanks.

  2. Elly June 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    Hi Lx, thanks for the comment! First ever on this site and I suspect it’s an auspicious one.

    Your point is well taken. I do think about the word “boyfriend” a bit, though maybe not as much as I should (or will in the near future if this conversation is any indication…). Joe, being better versed in such things, refers to me as his “partner” or “date.” I’ve mostly given up on finding a term I like (“special friend” just isn’t gonna swing it) and generally just refer to him as “Joe.” For this blog post, the juxtaposition of the words boyfriend and pink seemed too good to pass up.

  3. Jessica Roberts June 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    I am fond of “gentleman friend,” myself.

  4. Michael June 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    Seems to me that every coupling is as unique as every sexuality, so couples should feel free to merrily self-identify.

    Especially Joe and Elly, who are so good at doing so.

    Looking forward to reading! Onward the Internet.

  5. beth h June 15, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    I dunno. When my sweetie and I were An Item but not yet Shacking Up I was more than content to call her my girlfriend, especially if it made eyebrows go up in the room. After we announced our engagement she became my Fiancee (though I often forgot to add the extra “e” because my French is sooo rusty). After the wedding — not a commitment ceremony, but a big, messy wedding — I took to calling her my wife. Not always, but often enough that she began calling me her wife too. More eyebrows went up, for awhile; and eventually they all fell down again. Which tells me that sometimes words and gender matter, and sometimes maybe not so much.

    As for pink — it wasn’t ever my color, either, until I scored some hot pink brake housing for my singlespeed mountain bike. That led to pink pedals and pink grips. Which has freed me up to consider — gasp! — pink clothing. So go on and rock that pink.

  6. Elly June 17, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    You all are very sweet. :) Thank you.

  7. Lovely Bicycle! July 4, 2011 at 4:56 am #

    In Europe lots of men wear pink dress shirts or pink ties, it’s pretty popular. Not hot pink, but like a pastel, Victoria’s Secret pink. Interesting to see an executive or top level diplomat walk into a meeting authoritatively wearing that colour.

  8. Elly October 25, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Breaking news: This blog is now red (but I’m wearing a pink sweater).

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Why I type funny | Taking the Lane - November 10, 2011

    [...] I assume it was a similar phenomenon to the way VHS won out over the superior format of Beta, or how pink went from being a boy’s color to a girl’ color — some combination of deep marketing wizardry, luck, and chutzpah. Meanwhile, everyone [...]

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