As a young boy growing up in Texas, it was made very clear very early that pink was unattainable for me. As I grew into my teens and earned my own purchasing power through part-time jobs, I began to periodically purchase pink items as a way to signal to the world that I was different. In early adulthood, pink became a color of defiance for me and when I bought something pink, it was absolutely me sticking my middle finger up to “societal norms.” Once I became comfortable in my skin, I realized that I didn’t really like pink and I moved on from the subject…. Until I had a daughter.
Even before Helena was born, my husband and I talked about a myriad parental topics, one of them being the color pink and what we perceived it to unconsciously represent to little girls. To us, pink represented separateness, fragility, less than, and a slew of other things that we absolutely didn’t want our daughter to feel. So we decided to raise her in a gender-balanced environment, where she could have access to anything and everything, not being limited to what a marketing company decided she could wear or play with. Some people agreed, some people respected it, and some intentionally tried to slip extra pink things into the fold thinking they knew better.
Fast forward to two days ago when Helena decided that she wanted me to have a matching pink shirt to the one she was wearing. She picked out the fabric at the fabric store and “helped” me make the shirts. When I was with her this morning, I felt empowered. Here I was a cool dad wearing a pink shirt to match with my daughter. But after I dropped her off at school, I felt vulnerable as I went along with my day, like I needed to walk with a more pronounced swagger and lower my voice to compensate for how I felt I would be received as a man wearing a pink shirt. In my head, I knew this was dumb, but it brought up a lot of feelings that I thought I had overcome about the color pink.
Now, as I sit here writing this, I realize that Helena is going to be the one teaching ME about what pink should mean, which is simply that it’s a color, one of many, that is uniquely awesome in its own right. I still consider myself a cool color guy, but I finally feel at peace to include more pink in my projects.
Feel free to engage on the subject if you’d like. I’ve always enjoyed chatting about this topic with others.