As far back as I can remember, adults have always said that pink is for girls. Looking through old photos it’s the colour I was always dressed in, the colour of my childhood toys, a common theme wherever gender was involved. It was the colour of pens and paper, bags, coats and scarves, notebooks, blankets, nail polish.
After a certain point it got too much. Pink was something to avoid at all costs. Rejecting this colour was a way to outgrow immaturity, to introduce some distance between myself and the family, teachers, friends who insisted it was what I wanted.
I didn’t want to be ‘girly’ because girls weren’t taken seriously. I didn’t want to wear pink clothes or use pink stationery because it meant being treated a certain way. It meant being seen as dainty or fragile, like you couldn’t make intelligent decisions or clever observations. It meant being treated like you were less capable even if it was never spoken out loud.
So for years I refused any mention of it. All my friends had the same reactions, the same hostility not towards a simple colour, but to what it represented. It seems like almost everyone around me (especially in an all girls’ school) had been forced into a description that didn’t fit them.
If you think to the media at the time, the films, adverts, music videos, magazines, books – almost everything around you had some form of pink if femininity was even hinted at. If you approached the girls’ clothes section half of it was likely to be saturated with the colour which made it so much more important to make a stand.
Fast forward some years to a different time, a different place for almost everyone. It turns out that women are judged for far more than younger you could have imagined. Far much more than you would want to list. That feeling of being looked down on, being judged and not taken seriously, hasn’t really left at all. Now we know that it stems from the society we live in, and that even though things have been changing for the better for women, there’s still a long way to go.
It took a while to decide to reclaim pink. All of a sudden my feeds were full of men and women alike wearing pink for the first time in what felt like forever. Finally I realised that it doesn’t matter if others have an opinion on what pink represents, what kind of person you must be if you decide to wear a feminine colour. We are all being judged for hundreds of little things, so what difference does one more make?
Now I dye my hair different shades of pink according to my mood. I wear pastel pink and I wear super saturated or neon pink. In my lecture halls filled with 200 men, I pull a bright pink pencil case out of my pink Kanken rucksack and get on with my notes. I have embraced the colour because I’ve decided I like it now. I can easily prove my capabilities, my intelligence, my everyday skills and passions to anyone who asks and I can do it painted pink from head to toe if I so choose.