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.
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.