Pink

23 May

A few days ago I changed the look of my blog to make it perkier and give it a lighter ambience.  One thing I made sure was consistent, though, is the color: pink.  I have had a love-hate-love relationship with pink throughout my life.  I thought today I would give you a little glimpse into me using the color pink as a framework.

When I was very young my parents were members of an Apostolic Pentecostal church because my uncle was a pastor there.  One foundation of that faith is that women (and girls) are required to only wear dresses and to keep their hair long.  There are all sorts of other strict rules, but the basic idea is that femininity is required – even for babies.  That means that I actually learned to “crawl” in a dress.  I put crawl in quotes because I couldn’t really use my knees like most children do since the dresses made it virtually impossible.  Picture this:  me in a frilly pink dress, hair that had never been cut, “crawling” around on my hands and feet in this weird hunched/ crouching position so that I could maneuver around without tripping myself.  I think I have a photo of that somewhere, actually.  I will have to try and find it.

It wasn’t quite like this, but you get the general idea…

In my early childhood pink was a staple.  Even after we changed churches and parted ways with the stringent guidelines I owned tons of cute outfits, hair clips, and chunky plastic jewelry that was pink.  When I was about 6 years old my parents bought 10 acres of land in the country, and my Mom started designing a new house for us.  We got to pick everything, which was very exciting for me.  I picked out pink carpet, pink paint for my walls, pink wallpaper border, and a pink bedspread.  We moved in when I was about 7 years old, and I loved my new room.

In the next few years I got more active in sports (softball and horse-back riding mostly), started exploring those 10 acres, and became a tree-climbing, tough, tomboy who loved getting dirty, didn’t mind a few cuts and scrapes, and spent more time with my horses and dogs than playing dress-up.  I started hating the color pink with a passion.  I decided orange was my new favorite color, I think mostly because it isn’t “girly” at all.  I named all of my stuffed animals “orangey,” even the ones that had absolutely no orange in them.  I also spent some time ripping the heads off of my sister’s Barbie dolls just to prove how not interested I was in being frilly and delicate.

As I changed from a pre-teen into a full-blow teenager orange was no longer my favorite color, but pink was still at the very bottom of my list.  I gravitated to blue, gray, black, and anything that made me feel tough.  I think part of that had to do with the fact that I was very picked on in school.  I was home-schooled by my Mom until 6th grade, which I thought was wonderful.  I was super-fast with my school-work, which allowed me to skip a grade and have more time to play outside.  I could finish my lessons for the day in just a few hours at home.

Then I changed to private school for 2 years.  Not only were the lessons excruciatingly, unnecessarily long (it took 3 or 4 times what I had been spending to go over things that I found incredibly simple), but the kids were mean.  Private schools sound good in theory, especially to religious parents who think their children will get the benefit of Christian teachings, prayer, and smaller class sizes.  Let me tell you something – the reality is much different.  Private schools are full of kids who have been rejected from public schools because of their bad attitudes, problems focusing, and in some cases drug habits.  Sure, there are only 15-20 students in an entire grade.  That just means you can’t get away from the bullies.  Ever.

I was very glad to switch to public school for 8th grade through graduation.  At least there I could blend in, fade into the background a bit, and hopefully find a niche for myself.  Still, I was the “new kid.”  Everyone had been together, known one another, and formed their social circles since elementary school.  I wasn’t especially popular, outgoing, or interested in the “normal” teenage drama.  I came to despise the color pink even more because it was associated with the narcissistic, cruel, and shallow group of “mean girls.”

I did end up finding my own comfort zone in show choir, academics, and a few musicals and plays (even though I never fit in with the drama crowd).  I had a few close friends, I was relatively well-liked and respected, although not popular by anyone’s standards, and I was able to avoid being ridiculed for the most part.  I graduated at the top of my class, and couldn’t have been happier to leave it all behind.

I will skip most of the stuff in between then and now because it really doesn’t relate to my journey with the color pink.  Once I became a more self-assured adult something slowly changed about my opinion of pink.  It started with just a few nice pops of pink in a pretty shirt.  I realized I was okay with being feminine – in fact, it was something that made me feel good about myself.  I bought a bright pink shirt for the summer and noticed how much it flattered my dark hair and fair skin.

Slowly pink started making its way back into my life.  Now it represented confidence.  I could own pink for myself, not as something forced onto me by religion, culture, my parents, or the “in crowd.”  I also found that since I was more confident in myself I was okay with the vulnerability and softness that pink sometimes implies.  I didn’t have to be tough all the time.  I didn’t have to be strong, invincible, and shielded from the world.  I could just be me.  And I discovered that “me” likes pink.

I have been shaped by my life experiences and have grown because of them.  I still like black and gray, but I also enjoy silver and pink.  In fact, black and pink were the colors of my wedding.  I wanted this blog to have a pink theme because it reminds me of the journey I have taken to be okay with pink.  It reminds me that I can be vulnerable.  It reminds me that I am fluid – changing and becoming a different person every day.  That is why pink is important to me.

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9 Responses to “Pink”

  1. Ben May 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    I wanted to chime in on private schools… I never attended private school, and I felt I got a good education in the public schools, but when my ex and I got married and talked about kids and education, she came up through Catholic school and felt very strongly that they offered a better education. I disagreed. She eventually compromised when she found a school district that had a very good reputation for education and we bought a house there. Unfortunately, when it came time to register our oldest for school we found out that our house had been redistricted into another zone and she freaked out not knowing anything about the new zone, and registered with a small local Catholic school. I was actually surprised at how affordable it was compared to the cost of day care (which we were already paying) so I agreed to it for her peace of mind.

    My view changed a bit though when my youngest was going through the pre-K program in daycare. When my oldest went through she learned a lot and her peers were good kids and at least mostly focused on learning. My youngest came through, same teachers, same program, but he struggled in part because his peers were just terrible kids, and I realized that the parents of the kids with my youngest were much less concerned about learning and good behavior than the kids my oldest was with.

    That’s when I realized the value of the private school, at least the small, affordable one my kids go to. It’s not a “status” school, but it does have a cost associated with it, and I know each parent who chooses to put there does so because they value their child’s education and tend to be very engaged and obviously want to know they’re getting their money’s worth.

    I don’t believe that my kids are necessarily getting a “better” education there, but I do think that odds are better that their peers are going to good kids with parents who are very education-focused, and I think that does make a big difference. That’s not to say public school parents aren’t education-focused, but my experience with daycare tells me that there are bad parents out there who aren’t raising their kids right and don’t care all that much about engaging in their kids’ education, and in public school it’s a crap shoot as to what sort of kids are going to end up being your kids’ peers.

    I also realize there’s value in public schools, and learning how to deal with all sorts of people– in life, you don’t get to isolate yourself from the real world and you’ve got to learn to deal with difficult people and bad apples. Which is why I’m glad the kids will be going to a public high school. But for now, I’m happy to have them in their little school, which is very racially diverse from working-class families, and filled with good kids with very engaged parents.

    Sorry you had such an awful time at your private school, thankfully my kids haven’t run across any of that!

    • beautifulmess7 May 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      It’s good that your kids have had a positive experience in their private school. Not everyone was bad in the one I went to, but there were 2-3 kids in my grade who were there as more of a “last resort” because their academic or social behavior precluded them somehow from public school (attitude problems, drugs, or just slow overall and needed more attention). Sure, there doesn’t sound like much but it’s 1/5 of the class when there are so few of us.

      We also had pretty good diversity in terms of race – not so much in religion, obviously. There were fewer sports, music, and other programs. Although we were pretty well supervised, there was at least one girl in my class who brought drugs on campus. Again, it doesn’t sound like much but there was really no avoiding her. I was never interested in those things, thankfully, but I could stay away from people like that much easier in public school. Same with bullies and people who were mean or had bad attitudes.

      As far as education goes, I can say with absolute certainty that the education was MUCH better in public school. I am lucky in that our public school district is one of the best in the entire state in terms of SOL testing, graduation rates, sports teams (state champions in baseball, softball, and tennis), choir (national award-winning), and academics. I was part of the International Baccalaureate Program, there were 5 foreign languages offered (including Chinese) and some of the best teachers anywhere. I ended up with a full semester of college credits (12) from my AP classes, and I made a perfect score on my U.S.. History SOL largely because my teacher was the best one I have ever had.

      In stark contrast the private school had limited teachers (I had the same person teaching math and science for both 6th and 7th grades). We also had very limited course offerings. There was only one foreign language choice, no IB program, no AP or advanced classes offered, no gifted and talented program, no national honor society, and limited sports options. I know it was just middle school, but the same held true for the high school. Also the public middle school I attended for 8th grade had almost all of those options. In fact, in 8th grade I was able to take the SATs as part of an advanced program and scored a 1350 on them (out of 1600 possible at that time). Of course I attribute that mostly to skills and knowledge about studying and test taking that my mother taught me, but I certainly learned more and more quickly in public school than private. The opportunities to excel, expand myself and my mind, and be challenged were by far more available in public school.

      I firmly believe that had I stayed in private school I wouldn’t have been able to get a full scholarship to college. I also would not have been as socially well-adjusted or confident. I wouldn’t be as well-rounded. I wouldn’t have had as many opportunities.

      I know that not all private schools are like that. This one didn’t have a bad reputation. I’m not sure what the cost was, obviously, since I was a kid. It certainly wasn’t one of those ivy-league, snobbish, private “academies.” I was friends with a few people who went to a different, private Catholic school. They had somewhat similar experiences as far as academic challenge and opportunity. The social environment was somewhat better, though.

      My husband also went to a private Catholic school in the city. He said the education was sub-par. He went there from kindergarten through 8th grade. When he moved to a public school he found that he was behind in relation to other kids. He knew nothing about pre-algebra, geometry, or any high level math or science. He said the teachers really didn’t know much about anything to be honest. No one was a really good mentor or especially passionate about what they did.

      I think you are lucky if you have found a place that really fits you and your kids needs. I do think putting them in a good public high school will give them more opportunities, though.

  2. persuaded2go May 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    It was the SAME for me…LOVE/HATE with pink. My bedroom looked like that photo!! It took me many-many-many years to ever wear it again after that…but now I wear it with pride.

  3. Samantha Baker May 23, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    It’s funny, our mother’s are opposite. My mother was the tom boy. She was in the army, she left a church that required her to wear dresses/skirts. Me??? I loved the frilly stuff and she pushed me into boyish stuff. I turned out so opposite of her it’s not funny. I wanted the long hair, she always cut it short. I wanted pink, she would go blue. I liked my little pony and rianbow bright, and she took me to car shows, LOL.

    But I’m glad you can now celebrate pink. It’s a good thinkg to recognize the beauty in small things, like a color and what it means to you. I love embracing the “reptty” me, even when I have to feed chickens and milk a goat.

  4. Samantha Baker May 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    So weird. I was not “allowed” to like pink because my grandmother always told me as a redhead it didn’t flatter me. I eventually mentally said screw it, and found shades of pink that do flatter me.

    I have more to say but I’m on my phone. I’ll respond more later.

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