Seldom in the Pink

It seems to have been an instantaneous unanimous “decision” that participants in the recent Womens March on Washington would wear pink hats with kitty ears. Pink. A female color.

Pink is definitely a statement color that says “girl.” Back in the 60s, when guys at my school were wearing Oxford cloth shirts in pastel colors, I only knew one boy cool enough to wear the pink shirt without getting railed at. Back then, the fashion (for boys) was that socks matched shirts, so if the guy wore the pink shirt, he had the pink socks, visible in that small space between his loafers and his cuffs.

It’s the favorite color of my friend’s developmentally disabled son. No one knows why. But if I want to give him a present that makes him very happy, a pink sweatshirt will do the job. He LOVES pink and anything he can have in pink, he will have in pink.

Of course, pink is also a brand, a Victoria’s Secret brand that appeals to college age women. Many were the girls who marched into my classes with the word PINK emblazoned across their asses in glittery letters. It was a step up from Juicy (an earlier caption) but not by much.

My step-daughter-in-law (SDIL) and stepson were so adamant that their baby girl NOT be relegated to pink and sex roles, that they decorated her room in pale green and lavender. My SDIL was worried when her daughter suddenly wanted pink tutus. As for granny here, I was raised to be a nonconformist (or born?). I can’t say that has made my life easier. Let the kid fit in; there are a million things ahead of her that will challenge her identity. Let her wear a pink tutu. She’s only 3, and there is a lot more to sex roles than tutus and pink paint.


As for me, I dunno. When my mom said, “Girls wear pink,” as an argument, that was a non-starter. It’s kind of half-assed (as tints tend to be). I do have one bright pink shirt I wear hiking in hunting season for safety. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Seldom in the Pink

  1. When I watched the C-SPAN documentary series on the nation’s First Ladies, they mentioned that Mamie Eisenhower’s pink predilection was what started the association of pink = female. Prior to that blue was feminine and…believe it or not…pink was masculine.

    That latter point at least was also noted by Smithsonian Magazine in an article several years ago called “When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?” I don’t have the magazine at work (I subscribe), but did find it archived online if you’re interested: .

    The salient quote from it is:

    “…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, according to Paoletti.

    In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene’s told parents to dress boys in pink. So did Best & Co. in New York City, Halle’s in Cleveland and Marshall Field in Chicago.

    Today’s color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers. “It could have gone the other way,” Paoletti says.” (ibid)

    I recall in some long ago college course discussing the reason for the near universality of red lipstick and blue eye shadow. Like your contention regarding the color pink, we were told red lips mimic a flushed/engorged vulva, and blue eye shadow was the hue of extreme youth. Both of which, of course, are almost irresistible sexual cues to the male. (As is beer, I note, but you rarely see young ladies applying it as a spray for some reason. If only they knew….)


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