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Playing in Pink

I’m no fan of rigid gender stereotypes in general, but I particularly dislike how color coded things have gotten. It seems like almost everyone I know who opted to learn her baby’s gender before birth did it so she* could “get the nursery ready” or “shop for clothes before the baby arrives.” After all, if you don’t have a mound of pink clothes sitting in a room with pink or pink-striped walls, how will you know that your baby is a girl? It’s as if pink’s association with girls means that all girls must drown in it at all times.

Beyond the social and marketing facets of this trend, part of my disdain comes from not much liking pink in its paler shades. Or at least not liking it on me. Pale or Barbie shades of pink are decidedly not my color, nor are they the best colors for many of the girls I see wearing them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a professional photograph of a young girl looking feverish or ill in the shade and thought to myself, “You should have put her in orange or green.”

The second reason I hate the pink-blue divide is because it is as rigid as it is irrational. Up until a hundred years ago, both sexes wore all colors. Then, around 1910, it was decided that pink, as a shade of red, was the perfect color for boys. Girls, meanwhile, were deemed more suited to the dainty and delicate color that is pale blue. The two colors didn’t switch places until the 1940s.

And the third reason I despise the pink-blue divide is because it forces parents to steer half their kids away from a color many have an innate fondness for. My nephew Nathan liked pink when he was little; he even had a pink birthday cake for his second or third birthday. Simon liked it too, choosing pink water shoes for summer camp when he was 3. But since the camp was public and older kids would be there, I had to talk him into yellow ones. The situation left me angry and resentful not just at Society, which had put me in this ridiculous situation, but also at myself for acquiescing.

By the time Simon was five, he had gotten the memo. Pink is for girls. Pink is NOT for boys. This message meant that even though his best friends were disproportionately girls, he still felt the need to put distance between him and their signature color.

Why I am writing about this now? Because this happened:

TricksterCleats02That’s Manchester City’s Yaya Toure, an absolute marauding beast in midfield, at this summer’s World Cup. He’s sporting the Puma trickster cleat, where the right is pink and the left is blue. The mismatched-on-purpose cleat was Puma’s big marketing push for summer 2014 and was designed to capitalize on World Cup.

Around the same time, this also happened:

Pink-Real-Madrid-JerseyThat would be Gareth Bale sporting the Real Madrid’s third kit. Real Madrid is consistently one of the top 3 clubs in the world, and Gareth Bale is the guy who joined last year and helped them win Champion’s League.

Now I realize that NFL players have taken to wearing pink for breast cancer awareness events. It’s possible—I can’t confirm it—that Real Madrid’s pink kit is part of a breast cancer awareness campaign. The difference, however, is that while some American football teams have donned pink jerseys or arm-bands for a day or month, these cleats and kits are for an entire year.

What’s more, they are for sale to men, women, boys, and girls, and I am beginning to see some spill-over. One of the soccer games we watched last Saturday was Louisville Soccer Alliance’s (LSA) U-10 Team 1 vs. Javanon U-10 Team 1. For those of you not from Louisville, I’ll quickly explain that LSA is to Javanon what David was to Goliath. LSA accepts and tries to develop all players and costs around $350 per season. Javanon has incredibly competitive tryouts (that you have to pay $40-$50 for!) and costs well over $1000 for the same.

A Javanon team is typically composed of the equivalent of 10 of our top players. This past Saturday, as Javanon was comprehensively dismantling our team, one player in particular stood out: He was tall, very slim, had the best footwork on the field, and was wearing hot pink cleats. I’m pretty sure he was doing to be cool and to stand out on the field, not as a statement in support of breast cancer research!

As we were walking back to our cars after our games ended, I noticed a team of high-school aged boys walking to the fields from the parking lot. They were all decked out in a kit that featured a hot pink jersey with a large navy vertical stripe on it and matching hot pink shorts. Again, this was not a one-time stunt; this was the uniform for at least the season if not a full year.

I don’t pretend that this means the pink-blue divide is going away any time soon. But it does give me and others some wiggle room. Sunday afternoon Simon attended the birthday party of his friend Katie. She had pink birthday hats for her guests, almost all of whom were girls. When I went to put the hat on Simon, he blanched.

“Hey buddy!” I said to him, “You know who wore pink and blue cleats this summer? Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero. You know who’s wearing pink jerseys this season? Gareth Bale and Christiano Ronaldo. Remember that kid from Javanon that schooled you all wearing pink cleats? You telling me they wear pink but you’re too cool for it?”

Reader: He wore the hat.

*Yes, I realize that babies are born with two biological parents. However, I have rarely if ever heard a dad tell me that he was concerned about nursery and wardrobe color schemes in pre-birth. In fact, in my incredibly unscientific polling, most of the men were up for waiting until birth to learn the sex of the child; it was the mothers who wanted to know ahead of time.

2 Responses to “Playing in Pink”

  1. Amanda says:

    And the shame is, a lot of guys look FANTASTIC in pink. And they wouldn’t wear it because it “was a girl’s color.” I kept saying colors are not gendered!

  2. blg says:

    Nothing more attractive than a pink oxford cloth shirt with a grey suit. On a business person of either sex.

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