Rose, Fuchsia, Barbie, Flamingo...
Debunking the myths around society's much-discussed hue
"Boys can't wear pink!"
"Barbie's favourite colour!"
"You wouldn't catch me wearing that!" *barf*
|Pink, pinker, pinkest! The Mean Girls trio. Image: PinkNews (really!)|
Nothing says divisive, gender-based segregation than the 'pink for a girl, blue for a boy' mantra. Of all the colours of the rainbow, pink has had more than its fair share of misuse and misguided abuse. But what is the origin of the stereotype that pink is for girls? Can boys really wear pink? (Spoiler alert! The answer is yes!)
|The one-and-only Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby. Image: Celebsclothing|
Historically, pink was actually worn more by boys than girls. The reason for this was that pink, as a diluted but still potent form of red, conjured up ideas of strength, battle, blood and other such manly associations. Although infants and young children were usually dressed in plain, neutral tones to minimise the use of expensive dyes, up until the 19th century the rosy hue was mainly favoured by boys. Girls often sported the calmer, more tranquil blue, thought to better suit their docile nature.
|Thomas Lawrence's 1794 painting, dubbed Pinkie. Image: Wikipedia|
So, what changed? In the aftermath of World War ll many people chose to express the end of rationing and society's return to normality in their dress. Designers such as Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli opted for bright, exciting, happy hues under the umbrella of 'pink'. As people began to shop commercially rather than make up their own outfits, it was extremely important to take note of what the icons of day were strutting out in. High-profile personalities such as Mamie Eisenhower and Jayne Mansfield created massive buzz in outfits of unapologetic pink-ness, spurring women all over the Western World to imitate the look.
|Jayne Mansfield in her House of Love. Image: WordPress|
Still, it was only until about the 1970s that the trend started to seriously impact sales of gendered clothing for babies. Toy manufacturers soon caught onto the shift and began to advertise ranges catered specifically to boys and girls, the identifier being blue for boys, pink for girls. Gradually it became what is still is today: the way a young child learned about what it means to be a girl or boy: if they are a girl, they should enjoy wearing pink dresses and play with dolls, and if they are a boy, it's normal to play with fire engines and wear blue. What was initially one of fashion's phases became a hugely influential commentary on the role of gender and colour in society. As a result, pink is the most politicised colour out there. It will define our gender, and even our sexual orientation, if we let it.
|The Pink and Blue Project by JeongMee Yoon. Image: JeongMee Yoon|
Hold the phone and shut the front door! You're saying anybody off the street can judge me on what colour I'm wearing that day? That's ridiculous! And it is. As one critic of the pink-for-girls trend said, wearing head-to-toe black used to be a symbol of mourning, yet we don't ask a person if someone's died if they favour the colour. Why should pink be any different?
|Cinderella was a fan of blue. Image: Pinterest|
The 2000s ushered in a new kind of pink-promoting pop-culture. Legally Blonde, with the incorrigible Elle Woods, and teen flick Mean Girls, with the immortal "On a Wednesday's wear pink" line, helped to consolidate the idea that any self-respecting female held it in her best interests to wear pink loud 'n' proud.
|Reese Witherspoon rocking pink in Legally Blonde. Image: Cosmopolitan|
Despite all of the above, pink is finally being reclaimed as a colour for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. Millennial pink has risen from the ashes of the misinformed gender-based melee, and it's as inclusive as you like! Celebs such as Drake and Jay Z are notable fans of the colour, and have been snapped wearing it out a fair few times as well as in music videos. The stereotype that says pink is synonymous with femininity and sweetness is being discarded en mass. Solange's gorgeous video for Cranes in the Sky shows her wearing a selection of pink get-ups which transcend the mildly nauseating girly vibe perpetuated in the 2000s, and head straight for a new era of inspired rosy loveliness. As told by Stylist magazine, "Pink is the shade of the feminist revolution, radical femininity and the anti-gender construct zeitgeist."
|Solange in her Cranes in the Sky video. Image: YouTube|
Where does that leave me and pink? Wherever you like! It's time to depoliticise and redefine the colour and knock it down a peg or two. It should no longer define you; it's time you defined it: as fun, classy, bold, sassy, powerful and individual— as long as it's up to you!
|Our peachy Stone dress: pink 'n' proud!|
Sincerely Madia & Matilda