Sunday, February 13, 2011


There is probably no color in the Crayola box with which I have so complicated a relationship as pink. Hot pink. Blush. Rose. Tickle-me-pink. All of them, really. When I was a little girl (and don't make jokes about a trip to Switzerland, because the emphasis here is on /little/), I had very, very short hair. Oft I was mistaken for a boy. So I clung to evidences like the pink lace on my black hightops (it was the 80s) for a while, but then kind of gave up and went the tomboy route. I could look cool, but not cute. I was the bodyguard, not the princess in make-believe. And I did not wear pink.

My mom protested, of course, that I looked so pretty in pink. And the kicker is: I do. I have that blonde hair, the blue eyes, and whether my skin is creamy pale or sun-cancered tan, my complexion looks great in pink. Especially pale pinks. Especially all pinks.

But no. No, no, no. I wore a blue prom dress, red t-shirts, even, somehow, an entire palette of earthtones for a season, but no pink.

Then there was the pink-and-orange skirt. Is there such thing as a life-changing skirt? Perhaps, if you're willing to allow that your life can change in more-or-less insignificant ways. And this skirt sold me on pink. Combined with orange, pink wasn't girly or weak--it was pop and spunk and--dare I say--sassy. So I became sold on pink-and-orange.

It's not just the skirt, though. Somewhere in the early years of college, I began to realize that you didn't have to choose between being smart and beautiful. Being "girly" didn't bridge some small gap between being weak and being a girl You could be the princess who is her own bodyguard, or, as my niece puts it, "a princess with four guns." In the Girl Power days of Spice Girls, I think I had equated strong girls with freakish imbeciles, but emerging into an academic world of all types, I saw that embracing your femininity (I can't believe I just used that word sincerely) didn't have to mean denying your capacities, quirks, or priorities to fit a mold of what is feminine.

So this last Christmas break I crossed several things of my "30 before 30" list, including "sew a skirt out of nice fabric" and "make a wedding-style cake." I'm proud of these accomplishments because they are just as meaningful and difficult as "run a 5k a month for a whole 4-month summer" and "read everything Shakespeare wrote." Pursuing these "girly" activities doesn't undermine me as a scholar or whatever, but merely represent another dimension of my personality, freely entered into.

Last Friday was the Pink Dance. Everyone was supposed to wear pink. I walked past my pink sheets, and pink wall decals (granted, my room is--you guessed it--pink and orange) and checked in my closet, where I found a pink skirt, a pink t-shirt, two pairs of pink-accented sneakers, three pink scarves, pink flip flops, and a pink running shirt,which is not to mention all the pink jewelry, hairclips, socks, etc. Even so, I went out to the quinceanera store and bought a tea-length pink dress and pink Converses. What can I say? I look good in pink.