Last spring when we launched our "Feminism is a Team Sport" t-shirts, a girlfriend asked me if we had some in men's sizes and styles. "With the pink letters and hearts on it?" I asked dubiously.

I wear mine a lot, but I wasn't sold on thinking men would wear it?!?

To which she replied, "Yes!  My husband and son {in college} both want one."

I wasn't convinced. That was five months ago.

Last week another woman wrote me and said her husband wanted one and asked me where she could get him one.

I am a strong believer that we need far more men wearing pink... but add the word "feminism" on it with a few hearts and I was doubtful.  But that's three shirts requested.  My husband then said he'd wear one (Does it get any sexier?!). That's now 4.  (I need a minimum of 6 shirts to place an order. If you know a man who would consider it an honor to wear pink letters with us, see the link at the end.)

Pink is a weirdly complicated color, not just for guys, but still for girls, too.

The Shame of Pink

In college I refused to wear pink.

It wasn't some well-thought out campaign, I simply would have said that I just didn't like the color.  But in hindsight, I didn't like the color because it was girly and therefore a color that seemed as though it would somehow discredit me from being an ambitious woman.  It seemed to be a color for 4-year old girls who still believed in fairies and for the softer women who wore rose-patterns and flowing dresses--neither of which I identified.

Today I still hear similar sentiments.

I hear my friends tell others: "I swear I didn't dress her in pink when she was little," as they watch their daughters twirling and dancing in all things pink, their shoulders drooped as though they failed as mothers to keep their daughter safe from the gender-specific color.

When selling t-shirts at our GirlFriendCircles.com booth at women's conferences, we still hear "I don't wear pink... do you have this in another color?" in a tone that feels soaked with a feeling that suggests that far beyond the color is a meaning that still doesn't sit easily with them.

Interestingly, one place where it seems trendy now is among men. The color is worn mostly by those who are fashion-conscious, for it's still considered more edgy than norm. But even that trend comes with very tight parameters as to what shades and what articles are okay-- a collared pink shirt in a light pink is cool, a hot pink briefcase is not; wearing pink for breast cancer is awesome, decorating his office pink is not.

To Buy It or Not to Buy It?

I used to be a part of the unspoken boycott against pink.  I understand why some are tempted to eschew it.

When I read news stories like that of Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer, whose every

In books like "Barbie: I can be a Computer Engineer" we associate pink with a girl who isn't smart enough to do her job.

page is painted pink and accompanies a hot pink laptop to sell to girls, but whose morale of the story seems to be "Leave the hard engineering to the boys," I feel the familiar urge to reject all things pink, as if distancing myself from the fear of not being seen as capable, strong, and competent.

When I first watched Ellen DeGeneres (and you really must watch it if you haven't yet seen it-- HILARIOUS!) satirically promote the "new" Bic pens for women in pink and purple

Ellen geniusly pokes fun at why women need their own pens in pink and purple.

colors, I felt mad at myself for having bought those pens, as though I had fallen into their trap. (I love signing my books in those colors!)

When I walk into a sports shop and see the "shrink it and pink it" strategy at play I feel a

I like pink but if we're cheering for our favorite team then why wouldn't we wear our team colors like the guys do?

little disillusioned because I feel like it comes with a subliminal message that we're cuter than we are sporty and strong. While I have actually come to like wearing pink, when shirts are specially designed for women in "our" color but not dipped in blue for the men, it feels like it's assumed that men are the real fans who wear the real colors and we're just not as serious.

I could go on and on with examples... examples that leave me feeling like I should be resisting this pink-washing.  Pink has been used, at worse, to weaken and shame (i.e.  telling little boys that pink isn't their color or hazing rookie baseball players by making them wear pink backpacks); but even when it's not blatantly pejorative, it still seems to perpetuate a delicate, soft, and "light" stereotype.

Why I Wear Pink

I've been tempted at times to call off the pink-- not wanting to associate myself with the stereotypes.  And yet... I don't think the answer is to eliminate a color from our world as much as it is to change its meaning.

We are the ones who determine meaning. Pink, in and of itself, doesn't scream girl.

In fact, Smithsonian.com, in an article about how this trend to associate colors with a gender, cited an industry journal in 1918 as suggesting:

“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

Furthermore, in a chart printed in 1927 in Time magazine to showcase the correct gender color based upon leading U.S. department stores showed that Filene’s in Boston,  Best & Co. in New York City, Halle’s in Cleveland, and Marshall Field in Chicago, all recommended boys in pink.

So pink on its own surely can't be girly.  We've made it that. And I guess the bigger issue here is why that would be a problem even if it were... why is there shame in being girly?

In college I was still trying to shape my image and it was largely influenced by what others told me colors meant.  Now as an adult, I'm determined to help be an influencer--someone who redefines the color.

I don't think every woman needs to wear it and I hope that we get more and more color options where it's needed; but I'd also like to believe that we'll get more and more women proudly wearing the color: that our kick-ass computer programmers will bravely create code on hot pink laptops, that our star athletes will keep defying what we thought possible of the color, and that strong and ambitious women will produce and achieve all levels of success in any and every shade.

I want my niece and my god-daughter to see that they don't have to one day outgrow their favorite color. And in an ideal world, where my nephew wouldn't refuse to eat off a pink plastic plate because "it's a girl plate."

My hubby and I photographed both wearing pink at an event... I love that guy.

And to that point, perhaps more important than women embracing this color, I hope that more strong men will rise up and join us in pink.  Strong men who know that there is no color in the world that can weaken them, and in fact, that they are stronger when standing with women and modeling to little boys that colors don't limit anyone.

Pink isn't an insult, it's a frickin' gorgeous color.

And I, for one, will keep wearing it on stages and signing books in it, more often than not.

#BringBackPink.  :)

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MEN'S SHIRTS (VERY LIMITED SUPPLY!)

If you know a guy who will proudly wear this shirt-- we're placing a one-time order.

We currently have 4 brave men who have ordered their shirt.  We need a minimum of 6 pre-orders.  Looking for at least two more!  :)

We're extending the deadline to after the weekend.  You can order your size here.

 

 

 

 

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