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Pretty in Pink

My mother had prepared me: “Your father and I redecorated your room.” My firstthought was that they’d torn down my Robert Plant posters and painted over the tape marks. “It’s different,” Mom continued. Maybe, I thought, they turned my bedroom into a den. Yay! I’ll finally have a TV to myself! But then she said, “It’s the kind of room I always wanted for you.” While more than one four-letter word sparked across my synapses, the one that burned brightest was this one: PINK.

I was returning to my parents’ North Jersey home after 4 years of college (okay, 5 years; please don’t judge) so that I could commute to an enviable right-out-of-the-gate New York City job after having broken an engagement (in great part because of this job). This is all to say I was a grownup unpacking her suitcases surrounded by four pink pin-striped-papered walls. And if that wasn’t enough, Mom had bought pink lampshades, so that when I turned on the light, the air was pink, too.

Family stories have me pegged as a girly-girl from the get-go. I loved my dolls. I loved my dresses. However, I don’t remember ever having loved the color pink, except when I pressed the red syrup out of frozen strawberries into my cereal milk, which I still do. And then the ‘70s came and while I had to clean up for jobs and events, I preferred my jeans and tees and boots, none of which were pink. I probably didn’t like pink because I couldn’t wear it. When it came to my “color season,” I was an “autumn,” looking better in deep greens and peaches and browns.

But then something happened.

My beige-olive skin began to pale and blush (which sounds better than turn ruddy). Twenty-plus years of trying to keep up with a haircolor to match my changing complexion was growing wearisome, and I read in More magazine that after a certain age, it is best to return to the haircolor we had when we were 5 (really?), lighten it (which I tried, but I swim regularly and my hair turned green), or, because Mother Nature knows best, let it go.

Which I did.

Most everyone loves my salt-n-pepper hair, except for my former best friend who calls the color “ash tray,” and with the embracing of my new season, winter, I find that my new color palette includes…pink.

So get this, when I looked up pink to see all the different shades, hues, and tints that might look better on me, I found that once upon a time, the assignation of those baby colors were…reversed. According to Wikipedia, New York City department stores in the first quarter of the 20th century found that consumers favored pink for boys and blue for girls. What’s more, it seems British high-society fellas wore pink as a symbol of financial success. Did you catch The Great Gatsby scene in which Leornardo DiCaprio sports a pink summer suit, a statement of his (sort of) Oxford U days and a declaration of his wealth? (Yes, this was in the book.)  So I’m a-thinkin’ that it might have been as women began fighting for equality, they pilfered pink and made it theirs. And in this month that honors every pink shade, hue, and tint I’m declaring the color mine as well. At the tender age of 54 and 2/3rds, I am now pretty in pink.

I am sending this blog to my mother.

Equality: A Woman’s Place believes each and every one of us must
collaborate to create a new society based in equal power and rights.*
*excerpt from the Values Statement of A Woman’s Place

Carla Odell
Community Educator

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