• Vedashree Khambete Sharma

Reclaiming Pink


When I was four, my father had to travel to Germany for work. This was the first time he was travelling abroad and as was the tradition in the 1980s, he brought back a bunch of gifts for everyone. For me, among other things, he brought a beautiful, pale pink dress. It had a pink satin sash and was generally, the most adorable thing seen in these parts since me.


I loved that dress. It was among the many pink things I owned. And it seems nothing has changed much over the years. Today, too, pink as a colour is predominantly seen as a feminine colour. Walk into the Girls' Section in any store and you'll see it overflowing from the aisles. Ribbons and clips, frocks and tshirts, shoes and purses - if you are of the female persuasion and under a certain age, the world is your extremely pink oyster.

Photographer JeongMee Yoon's 2006 portrait of her daughter 'Seo Woo and Her Pink Things'.

Source: JeongMee Yoon/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Jenkins Johnson Gallery

Why? Nobody knows. What we do know, is that till a certain time in history, it was most decidedly NOT a feminine colour. Red was the colour of blood and heroism and by - for some - logical extension, the colour associated with masculinity. To be male was to have red stuff. And if you were a boy, well. What is pink, after all, but a young, watered down red? Blue? Naah, leave that to the girls.


So when and why the world decided that pink was a girly colour, is beyond me. All I know is, as I entered my teens, I was done with it. Not for me, that girly-ass shit. I was cool, I was edgy - nobody knew it, but that was a minor detail. I wasn't going to wear anything pink. That was for... girly-girls, who liked girly things like frills and flowery stuff and makeup and giggling and teddy bears that were... pink. Not me. I was not like those other girls. I was different.


And here, allow me a quick moment to go back in time and clobber that sneer off past-me's face.


Because, when I denounced all things pink in all my nineteen-year-old wisdom, the fact I had missed was this: I wasn't laying off a colour; I was taking my first confident steps towards being conditioned by a patriarchial society.


I KNOW. That's some leap, right? But hear me out.


See, I had convinced myself that I didn't like pink because it was such a girl thing to like. The question I should have been asking myself was And what's so wrong with that? What's so wrong with liking things girls like? Why is it such a problem if someone like teddy bears, or frills or giggling? What's so wrong with being an Amy or a Meg instead of a Jo? (Little Women reference ftw.)


It was only years later that I realised the simple truth: my problem wasn't the colour pink. My problem was that liking the colour pink was deemed a feminine quality and as we all know, anything feminine is bad. Crying is bad. Having a high-pitched voice? Bad. Intuition instead of logic? Bad. Emotion instead of reason? Bad, bad, baaaaaad.


Except, all these qualities are a spectrum, not absolutes. You think all men possess only reason and no emotion? Yeah, let's talk after India loses a cricket match, shall we? We all possess ALL those attributes to a greater or lesser extent. You'd have to be a psychopath to not feel anything. So why bash women for it? Because we're bashable? If you're a domestic abuser, sure, but not really otherwise.


So, this Women's Day, I'm reclaiming The Colour Pink.


For too long, has it been associated with the weak and the shallow, or in Dolores Umbridge's case, the downright unpleasant. That ends now. Because you don't have to be masculine or tomboyish or anti-pink to be a badass. You can embrace the colour and still be one. You can be anything you damn well please. Singer, songwriter, actress, author, businesswoman, humanitarian. Or all of them put together.


Just ask Dolly Parton.



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