Why I Reclaimed the Color Pink

My sister and I are just over two years apart, and for the longest time my mother dressed us like we were twins. You don’t believe me? Here’s a picture.

My sister Katie, on the left, and me, on the right, playing at the beach

If my mother didn't buy us the exact same outfits, she would instead buy the same outfit in two different colors. Katie always got purple, and I always got pink. So, I wore a lot of pink growing up, and I don’t think I ever really thought about it. But I wasn’t just getting messages of pink being a “girl’s” color from my mom – so many industries use pink to mark girls, especially in childhood.

Pink is all we see every time we walk down the toys aisle in a store: 

And companies even find ways to gender and brand the exact same toy, like these McDonalds toys: 

Pink follows our girls into their tween years: 

Victoria’s Secret has even gone so far to brand the color pink that they’ve created an addition just for teenage girls. And what is its name? PINK.

Maybe being around so much pink as a child led me to reject it all. I’ll never know. All I know is I woke up one morning in fifth grade and decided I was too cool for pink. I gave up pink altogether and have never gone back…until recently.

As a gay woman, I often feel the pressure to “butch it up” by rejecting anything that’s feminine. So, get rid of the long hair, the painted nails, the makeup, the heels, the skirts, and definitely the pink. When I came out, I embraced the flannels, undercuts, dark blues, neutral tones, and beanies of a lesbian lifestyle and LOVED it. I think I was subconsciously aware that I was filling stereotypes of some kind, but I just felt like I wanted to fit into the queer community. Plus, I wanted to get as far away from pink as possible. It’s only recently that I’ve started examining the way I’m subjugating the pink in my life.

Not surprisingly, I cringed when I saw the layout of HerCampus. The whole website is so… pink, and it annoyed me. Through the weeks of writing for the website, I’ve begun to think about just why I hate pink so much. On some subconscious level, I know I don’t like pink because it’s girly. Pink represents the feminine, the weak, the dependent, the subjugated, the woman, and I thought that the best way to become a “real” lesbian was to be manly and shove away all the feminine in my life.

I HAVE A CONFESSION FOR YOU. I still love pink. I love the way pink looks as lip gloss on a cute girl’s lips, I love cherry blossoms in the spring, I love the vibrancy of a pink highlighter in my notes, and I love the way the sky turns pink at sunset. There are plenty of reasons for me to love pink, and if being a part of the HerCampus community has taught me anything, it’s that being a woman and writing for women is great, and we should all embrace our inner pink.

So here I am! Smiling, wearing my favorite highlighter pink shirt. If you’re like me and you gave up liking pink a long time ago, I’d encourage you to reassess the color and welcome it back into your life. For more musings on pink, click here to check out Janelle Monae’s new song, PYNK. I’m in love with it, and it is just one of the reasons I’ve reclaimed pink.

Xoxo - Elizabeth