Pink.

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What does that word remind you of? Girly. Flirty. Pretty. Young. Though these are the positive adjectives, these do comprise a stereotype. If you say “Oh, I love that pink purse!”, you’re a girly girl and if you cringe at the sight of pink and vehemently despise it, you’re a tom-boy. If a man wears a pink shirt and looks fabulous in it, you say “A very few men can pull that off” and if he doesn’t, “Is he serious?” We’ve all heard these lines at least once. Let’s talk about pink and why it’s such a big deal.

I have a theory regarding pink- initially, it was just a color. Men and women liked it equally but suddenly due to gender stereotyping, the boys were allotted the color blue while the girls got pink. They adopted these colors and used them to represent their gender. Why this stereotyping happened in the first place and why these two colors were randomly chosen, is still a mystery to me. Red is liked by all- men and women alike. Then why is pink, a slightly diffused version of red, a monopoly of the female community?

But why do we associate certain meanings to certain colors anyway? Almost every boy’s favorite color is blue and black, rarely green. No one questions that. Girls have a larger selection to choose from when it comes to their favorite color since being ‘tom-boyish’ is not a bad thing. But a guy with pink or purple as his favorite color is frowned upon. Why would he possibly like that? Pink makes a person ‘girly’, and a guy being girly is an absolute nightmare. But no one says something similar about tom boys. Tom boys are smart, they are ‘one of the guys’, they are less emotional, they don’t cry. This stereotype is very well known.

Kajol’s character Anjali from “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” is the perfect example of a so-called tom boy. I had to bring up this movie because it enforces all kinds of stereotypes possible and solidifies them in the minds of all. The film did not get a negative reaction because the tom boy turned into a proper lady and hence helped out the hero in the process of falling in love with her. But she was the same person before and after. Did her clothes, short hair and lack of make-up really stand in the way of Rahul finding her attractive? I really loved the movie when I was three, but I couldn’t help pondering upon these questions when I watched it again sixteen years later. The love story that has been considered to be one of the greatest in Bollywood, was really that superficial.

But according to me, tom boys do not exist. It is an outcome of peer-pressure and the influence of popular media. On the other hand, not being emotional and crying less can be a particular person’s attributes. That cannot be called masculine or boyish. While there’s this one reaction to girls who hate pink, there’s one other reaction too. People who despise pink are also called sexist. I disagree with this point of view. People who think this only prove that they agree that there is a link between the color pink and girls. Certain people can have other reasons to hate that particular color. For example one of the best reasons I’ve been offered yet is, “It’s deceptive. Red is a solid primary color and white seeps into it and dilutes the stark honesty of red.”

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We have weird associations with every color. Why is it so hard for a man to carry off pink? How does pink decrease his masculinity if it’s just a color like any other? More importantly, if being called a tom boy is taken as a compliment, why is being called ‘girly’ an insult? I remember an episode from Modern Family where Jay taunts his brother for buying his clothes from a women’s boutique and Gloria, Jay’s wife, sarcastically replies to it by “Yes, because women are so inferior.” It’s a fashion statement for girls to wear boyfriend jackets but it’s unimaginable for a boy to go out in a skirt. The very idea seems ridiculous.

Sure once upon a time the nature of a man’s and a woman’s work governed what kind of clothes they wore. But now that logic does not stand anymore because men and women work in the same offices and yet have different dress codes. I know it’s not socially acceptable for a man to wear his girlfriend’s clothes out there in public but I would love it if anyone could give me a single reason why he should not. Men should not keep long hair. That’s a monopoly of the girls too. Wonder why this rule is still applicable.

Why does the society get to decide everything for us? We all believe in certain stereotypes even though we call ourselves open-minded human beings. We are told from our very childhood days that girls are supposed to have Barbies and boys are supposed to have Top Wheels and G.I. Joes. We never question these conventions either because this does not bother us. But a boy who carries a pink backpack to the school does get bullied and that’s where the negative impact of stereotyping comes in. Stereotypes may not bother you but these are fatal to some. Ask yourself why a boy in a skirt or a with a pink handbag would directly bother you. It wouldn’t.

This is why pink is such a big deal.