Pink Stinks

I’ve never been much for pink. I’m sure I’ve mentioned that once or twice or twenty around these parts. To be fair though, my thoughts on the color change sporadically. In fact, I’ve recently been contemplating adding a little bit of the color to my lovely locks.

Really.

A friend of mine latched on to this idea and sent me some temporary hair coloring in the mail the other week. I was super excited to try it out, but before I could, somebody else managed to take it for a test run.

And I have to say, he looked pretty darn good. He kept running over to the mirror to check himself out, smiling wide every time he saw his hair. It only got better later that night when we ran into one of EZ’s beloved teachers in town, who just happened to be wearing a t-shirt the exact same color as the tinted tresses. EZ couldn’t stop beaming as he recounted (over and over again), “Did you see? Did you see, Ima? His shirt was the same color as my hair!”

That was Friday.

Yesterday the boys took to a local pond to cool off while I went shopping with a friend. I came back with some sweet new rainbow streamers for EZ’s bike, and was excited to present him with them. He thanked me and grabbed them, running quickly into our mudroom to show them off to his friend who lives next door.

I may have listened in while they chatted.

What I heard broke my heart.

My son, who only days before had proudly paraded his pink hair through town was sounding less enthused about his so-called favorite color.

“Check these out! They’re rainbow streamers! But just, you know, regular rainbow colors. No pink or purple, or you know…girl colors.”

His buddy chimed in, not only reinforcing the thought that pink is a girl’s color, but also that “pink stinks.”

My own smile fell as I heard his words. Inspired by my pal Melissa, the phrase “colors are for everyone” is a frequent statement around here. My son really embodied that mantra, always relying on his own preferences rather than expectations when it came to choosing things (like shoes). But here he was, clearly regurgitating something he had heard elsewhere. I didn’t want to embarrass him and call him out, but I also couldn’t let it go either. Who ever thought that I would be championing the color pink?

“Hm. I don’t think pink is a color just for girls. Lots of folks like pink,” I reminded them.

My husband, who had been hanging around nearby, chimed in, asking EZ what his favorite colors again. I could see it, sitting on the tip of his tongue, but before he could say pink, he mumbled “yellow, I guess.”

The other boy cheered his choice on, but I didn’t have it in me to even smile.

Later that night, when it was just the two of us, I brought it back up. In the calm, quiet, and privacy of his bedroom, he admitted he still really loved the color pink. Again, I didn’t push it, since I didn’t want it to become a.thing. But, I did remind him that colors are for everyone, and it would be a pretty boring place if everyone only liked the same color.

While I think his love for pink still floats below the surface (and pops up on occasion), I’m pretty bummed that even in our progressive, liberal bubble, tired gender stereotypes still have a foothold.

2 thoughts on “Pink Stinks

  1. Even though you refrained from making it a.thing, it’s great you had the.talk. I had the same talk with my nearly-4-year-old daughter last week regarding the overly gender specific toy aisle at our local supermarket — sparkly, shiny pink to the left and dark, doom-y black and gray to the right. When she informed me which side was for girls and which side was for boys, we had a quick talk about colors being for everyone and she could pick something from either side. I cringe thinking of her innocence right now, as she starts pre-K this year. It won’t be long before my words/advice will be vehemently held up (and most likely discarded) against what her friends say. That thought breaks my heart. I can only hope I’ll be the small voice in her head someday that allows her to remember that colors ARE for everyone (and, hello… we know it’s SO much bigger than just colors).

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