Over the period of last few year I went from nothing is pink in my wardrobe to everything is pink in my wardrobe kind of unintentionally. It happened somewhere at the very edge of my consciousness and I cannot remember really paying attention to it. But one day I just looked in the mirror and saw myself as I was – wearing a pink dress, a pink coat, pink shoes, huge pink glasses and holding my favourite pink bag – and realized how much has changed. It turns out that, well, whether I like it or not, I am seriously addicted to pink.
Come on, it never used to be the case. I struggle to remember even one piece of pink clothing – let it be a hairband even – that I had owned before I went to Uni. There are also plenty of colours that will never make it to my wardrobe (brown for that matter; why are all shoes brown? brown makes me aesthetically sick), yet somehow only pink managed to complete a full and unexpected transition from colour non gratus to thing to have. I am not the only one though – many of my friends and acquaintances struggle with this bizarre love-hate fluctuation for pink. It seems to be relatively common at our age. The question is therefore – if since childhood the consumption-focused media and society tries to force pink down our throats, why can we only realize its full potential only once we are fully grown adults?
Scientists claim it is in our blood; we, women, instinctually prefer pink over other colours and there is nothing we can do about it. The reason comes, supposedly, from way back when women’s main responsibility was to pick (often red) berries. And as people are naturally programmed to like blue, take blue + red = kind of pink (or violet).
Of course that is just a baby-stage theory; and the results are very speculative as well. No single study itself will ever answer all our questions definitively as well. But it is a start, isn’t it? Especially since there are so many others supporting it somehow, like a study showing that girls of age two prefer pink already at this very early stage of life.
Some could argue – and it would be difficult to not give them at least a little bit of credit – that two years are enough to heavily influence the development of a tiny human being. What about the myth that all boys like blue and all girls like pink? All these pink toys, teddy bears, dresses, baby buggies, blankets…? Could being surrounded by one colour only not be enough reason to pick it above others? After all, we do like most what we already know.
I am no psychology expert, so I do not want to try to guess the definitive answer. There are countless debates as to whether pink is a social construct sold to us by the marketing companies or a preference that has stuck around for some time now, and I doubt that the discussions will end any time soon. One thing is without a doubt though; regardless of the origin of this belief, we, women – and we, society – associate pink with femininity.
This being said, publically we do approach the colour pink with a certain disdain. We try to distance ourselves from it. Pink advertisements make women less likely to buy a product – apparently there are some good examples of that and since the majority of campaigns right now seem to have moved away from pink rather than to embrace it more, I believe it, as there is no better proof than money nowadays. How can it be that something so intrinsically female repels women so much? A controversial question pops into my mind then – do we, women, hate femininity? Do we hate ourselves?
I have seen the sentence Women hate women one too many times. There is also good old Women hate fake, profit-focused, marketing-originated, stereotypical versions of femininity. Both of those are true, sometimes. Deny it as much as you want to but there is a vast group of women who hate other women based solely on their gender (as I suspect there exists a group of men hating other men –although as I have never identified myself as male, it is harder to judge for me). On the other hand, even I – and I am a very offence-resistant person – sometimes cannot stand yet another pink and oh so feminine advert on the TV, although being angry or surprised that the advert is stupid is more or less as rational as expecting the Earth to suddenly start spinning the other way.
(I do have to say here that from time to time I am positively surprised by marketing departments – it is a rare thing though, the overall quality of adverts, especially those on TV, is quite depressingly low).
But I do struggle to believe that… No, I refuse to believe, that pink could be a symbol of our hatred towards female sexuality. Or a female-whatever. I know that a Strong Female Character created by media and other Internet gurus (what a ridiculous word, guru) is nothing more than a man without a penis and with a pair of boobs instead, but femininity is not dead yet, is it? It cannot be that all these women I pass on the way to work each day secretly hate everything female, their own identity, their own sexuality and everything that remind them of it.
Maybe I should have conducted a study on it – after all I am meant to be a scientist. I should have asked the women around me why at some points in life they hate pink so much although it is very – socially, genetically, whichever path you take – close to their hearts. I would have never finished this post though; surveys and I are not the greatest of friends. I tried googling why women hate pink, but the results neither surprised nor disappointed me. The Internet seems to have all the answers to this question and they can be summed up in one little sentence: because it is feminine.
But before I leave you with no answers to all these questions I just stated, more confused than before, let me tell you why I think I hated pink. A statistical sample of one is not a lot; but it will have to do since it seems like in the whole World Wide Web only I agree with myself (not an uncommon occurrence).
It kind of reminds me of the good old times when I used to have a partially pink backpack I took to school every day. The other kids kept asking me why I chose a pink backpack – you know, that was kind of unusual at my age (although one would never guess it by looking at the shop shelves – seriously who buys all these pink backpacks? I was the only girl with one in my entire school). I had only one response: it is not pink, it is lavender, you moron.
(It was pink)
Why? Because I thought pink was stupid.
Ridiculous. Idiotic. Moronic. Nothing more and nothing less. Only stupid kids can wear pink. The worst ones, you know. I am not even sure that at any point of time I took under consideration the fact that I never see boys in pink – probably not, the notion of gender is not something you consider much at that age unless the boys don’t let you play football with them (again). It didn’t matter. It wasn’t the girls / boys division. It was all about being smarter than others.
The way I used to see world was pretty stupid itself, but I cannot apologize for being a kid and thinking like one. My world was divided into smart, sensitive, full of prospects and depth kids and those, who knew nothing, were shallow and uninteresting, never read books and, well, wear pink.
I don’t know how many kids around the world function this way – that was the way it with the kids I hung around with and I don’t expect us to have been the most original bunch in the Universe. But there was always this notion of being different than the crowd. Luckily, I grew out of it; but I know many don’t and there are still plenty of grown-ups who believe that their entire self-esteem should be based on their relation to the outside world. That’s not the point.
The point is that, at least in my book, it is not femininity that keeps us away from the colour pink. It is the stereotype of a Pink Idiot. I am blonde, so that is even worse for me, I guess. That is why – I think – women hate pink. Because it makes them think them look like shallow, reality show obsessed, full of gossip and lacking any original thought, silly little things.
This whole process of growing up to love pink kind of supports this statement. As we grow up, hopefully, all of us start to realize that who we are – and what we are – is not dependant on other people’s opinions. That the colour pink is good for everyone: smart, silly, pretty, ugly, big and small, really, it is kind of irrelevant in general, because at the end of the day it is just a little bit of light. Nothing more and nothing less. Trust me, I am a physicist.
Personally I think we all deserve a little fling with pink. After all these tense years of teenagehood wherein every little thing counted and our reputation could shatter from the tiniest thing, after all the tears and hormonal swings, it is time to be true to ourselves. Screw the social concepts; let’s just do what we want and what we need. Because if wearing pink brings us a step closer to understanding and accepting ourselves, other people’s opinions cease to matter at all.