I’d Rather Wear Pink

woman in pink dress

As we dive into our past experiences and engage our story with authenticity and courage, we begin to see surprising parallels and reminders of the past in the world around us. Here, Becky Allender writes about how current events have inspired her to reclaim her fondness for the color pink, which in turn invited her to engage her younger, childhood self. This post originally appeared on Red Tent Living.

If a bank robber apologized for parking in a no parking zone, we would not be impressed. Our current president apologized for “locker room talk” when he should have confessed to boasting about sexual assault. There are many men who abhor what Donald Trump said, including Mike Pence, but Trump’s crudity was never named as unwanted sexual touch. And it was never acknowledged as a crime that women have endured since the beginning of time.

I spent the majority of the day of my 40th wedding anniversary walking with women wearing pink. It was a color I liked until I moved and went to a new elementary school after Easter weekend in the second grade. Mrs. Myers assigned Susan Smith to be my “buddy” and shepherd me through the first week of school. To my surprise, in the multi-purpose lunchroom on that first day, I realized she had an identical twin sister! The Smith twins were a force to be reckoned with, especially on the playground. Within that first week I realized that pink and “prissy” would not be tolerated. Somehow I convinced my mother to never put pink ribbons in my hair again or have me wear pink clothing of any kind. For some reason, the Smith twins liked me and I liked them. To this day, that rescue helped change the course of my life. But I was not about to test their patience with the color pink when it was clear they abhorred it. To avoid being bullied, I came to hate pink.

To avoid being bullied, I came to hate pink.

Our three children were born in the 1980s when gender neutral colors were being touted as the way to dress and raise our children. A Ladies Home Journal article from 1918 an article 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.” (Smithsonian.com) It was in the 1940s that pink became associated with girls and blue for boys. (Jezebel.com) When gender testing became prevalent in the mid 1980s, clothing companies became more gender biased with colors for newborn and toddler clothes. Of course, in Asia and Africa, pink is a masculine color to this day.

In 1990 The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation handed out pink visors to breast cancer survivors who ran in its Race for the Cure. Before the pink ribbon loops, Charlotte Haley made peach colored loops for legislators to wear to raise awareness of the need for breast cancer research. Soon after the pink visors, many cosmetic companies got involved with pink merchandising too.

In 2002, the organization “Code Pink” was founded by activists Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin. It was mainly founded as an anti-war group, but their valiant causes traveled world wide and stood against injustice in countless forms. The name “Code Pink” was in reaction to our government’s ratings of codes for terrorists’ chatter.

The latest “Pink” project launched was for the January 21st women’s march that took place in cities all over the world. The Pussyhats turned the movement into a sea of pink. Founders Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman had begun knitting classes at the Little Knittery in Atwater Village neighborhood in Los Angeles last year. Part of the mystique of knitting circles (or any handiwork women do in a group) gives way to conversations. It was during that time when Donald Trump faced allegations of sexual misconduct (which he denied), and as the election drew near, they say those conversations birthed the pink hat pattern. I quote their words: “The idea is both a play on pussyhat, pussycat, and also references Trump’s “grab them by the pussy.”

The next four years will be a trial by word and symbol. Already countless claims are being made that Trump lied or the media is biased. Of course, both accusations are true. Far more, the word of the year determined by the Oxford English Dictionary is “post-truth.” It acknowledges that seldom are the facts interpreted fairly, consistently, and in context. Trump can mimic a handicapped reporter’s disability, and later his interpreters say he was only highlighting how upset (spastic) the reporter became when his biased views were exposed. What did we see? What is claimed? The disparity is maddening. It is easier to write Trump off or to defend him to the hilt.

I’d rather use the color of my femininity to mark my ground as a challenge to all bullying.

I’d rather wear pink. I’d rather use the color of my femininity to mark my ground as a challenge to all bullying—from the left, right, or the silent middle.

I’d rather join the new First Lady whose new focus, supposedly, is on cyberbullying. Seriously? Isn’t the incongruence better than any satire you have savored?

I went out our front door today and a package had been delivered from Amazon. I opened it and inside was a 19-inch, pink-handled Hello Kitty tennis racket for my four-and-a-half year-old granddaughter Elsa. She is fierce and genuinely tender. She will one day pound a tennis ball over a net. She will also have to face an opponent far more insidious: the demand to remain silent when she sees racial, sexual, religious, or personal bullying.

I know my granddaughter. I know my daughter-in law Sassy. I know her father Andrew. I know my daughters Annie and Amanda and their spouses Driscoll and Jeff. They will march, shout, and proclaim. No one has the right to violate the body of another human being. No one has the right to mock someone else’s body. No one has a right to turn my heart against wearing pink. We are seriously entering one of the most important periods of our lives and the future of our country, and every woman, irrespective of one’s views of the President, politics, or faith, needs occasionally to wear a color that says: Not on my watch!