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The Color Pink: How You Can Own Pink and Still Hate The Color

Lissa Rankin's picture

hatepinksmall1There has been some dissent among the Pink ranks about the color I chose to represent female empowerment. “Pink?” you say. “But I HATE pink.” Christa said, “I know I need to nourish my female fabulousness…but I still refuse to wear pink clothes, eat pink food, or sip pink drinks.” Eva said, “I’m a dyke. Dykes hate pink.” I hear you, sista.

Nancy, an artist, breast cancer survivor, and advocate, said, “I don’t do pink. We Harley-riding breast cancer advocates can’t wear pink- it would be too much of a statement. Like I’m flaunting that I survived, when so many others haven’t.” I get it. I really do. Aside from religion, politics, and abortion, Pink is one of the most polarizing issues I’ve found. Who’d have thunk a color could have so much power- to repel, to irritate, to empower?

So Why Pink, You Might Ask?

The seed for Owning Pink was planted five years ago, when my friend Stephen, whose wife Carmen was pregnant with a little girl, said that his daughter was NEVER gonna wear pink. I told him his daughter just needs to OWN pink. And the rest is history. (Stephen, whose daughter is now 5 and a die-hard Pinkette, rolls his eyes when this comes up. He swears he supports girl power and really, he doesn’t want to be the Pink Grinch…So let’s throw out three cheers for Stephen. If it weren’t for him, Owning Pink might not even exist!)

There are lots of families who take and guard this position, who dress their little girls in red, green, purple, blue, yellow and orange, but steer waaay clear of pink. Sure, pink signifies girl, and comes in handy when you’re trying to help strangers choose a pronoun for your bowling-ball bald baby. But for some, it’s TOO girly. And why is “girly” bad? Girly equals uber-femme, equals ribbons and bows and ponies and daisies, equals fairies and floaty and lacy and … well … powerless. At least in our culture. Perhaps families not wishing to dress their babies in pink are on some level resistant to setting up that assumption – that their daughter is powerless. Too much of a girl. Somewhere in our history (or everywhere in our history), too girly became too bad.

The Passionate Polarization of Pink

In recent years, girliness has been reclaimed – but in an interesting way. The color Pink became the hallmark of Girl Power. Of extreme feminism. An almost militant campaign, associated often with things like anger (a man-hating revolt against oppression) or illness (breast cancer). For many women, this is as off-putting as the color’s original connotation of weakness. It signifies the polar opposite of femininity. Yes, it signifies power, but not the kind of power we women naturally have and use and create. It’s a FIGHT against illness, or a FIGHT against the opposite gender. A fight against the world and against our very nature. Even the color itself has morphed into alarming shades – hot, screaming, aggressive, clashing, unsettling Pinkness. And this has polarized Pink. Not since the red state/ blue state battle has a color divided so many. You probably fall into one of two very distinct categories: Pro-Pink or No-Pink. There doesn’t seem to be much in-between. Me, I’m not into the whole red state/ blue state division. I’m all about unity and finding the beauty in people. I guess I live in a Pink state. But then, that’s a topic for a whole other blog post.

Remember, Pink is the Color of Life

The challenge we face - and really, what Owning Pink is all about – is to wrangle the multiple aspects of our femininity, jettison our old concepts of all the ways that pink is wrong, and come around to the understanding that it’s something to be proud to wear, to support, to really, truly Own. Something that might help is to acknowledge that the power we have as women is first and foremost creative. Pinkies – we create art, meals, friendships, poetry, dance, community…. Hell, we create life! Hello. That’s the original meaning of pink – derived, surely, from the color of our Pink Parts (not to mention the color of our hearts). Why do we believe that we have to choose- to surrender our power or fight for it, when the power is naturally inherent within us, as it has always been?

If we can come from this creative, conceiving, constructive perspective of Pink, maybe the stigmas and polarization will begin to balance and mellow. Let’s place our focus not on the societal, political, and historical misrepresentations of pink, but the pink that’s deep within us – literally. The pink that bears the energy to make new life. And if it has that capability, how much more power must there be? What else is it possible to create? Pink signifies the power we bear to heal, to form relationships, to protect and nurture, to kick ass, and to find our Hot Pink Mojo.

Yes, You Can Still Own Pink if You Hate the Color

Good news, Christa, Eva, and Nancy. Yes, of course you don’t have to love the color Pink to Own it. Christa, you’re a Hot Pink Goddess Extraordinaire inspiring women to overcome adversity by Giggling On. Eva, you Powerful Pink Diva Divine you. You’re the Potent Pink Punch behind helping others succeed. And Nancy- you Harley-riding, mojo-radiating, creativity-blaring Pinkster- you’re Owning the hell out of Pink- even in your black, leather riding jacket.

You Pinkies out there are owning your bodies, your spirituality, sexuality, creativity, and all the rest in so many ways that your Pink (the Pink we mean) shines right through your blue jeans and black (or orange or blue or green) t-shirts. Owning Pink is not about the color. It’s about being the creative, alive and exuberant human you came to this earth to be. Pink is a reminder of the power you have – not to destroy or fight or sink, but to see, grow, and create. That power has always been in you, existing as a warm, organic, earthly shade of Pink, deep in the core of you, where everything is born.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can love and prefer orange and blue and green and purple and red and yellow and olive and black and chartreuse- and still Own Pink.

So if Owning Pink isn't about color, what is it already?

Owning Pink is a state of being. It's about accepting what is, living in the moment, and appreciating that which makes you unique, while connecting you to the collective experience of all women. It's about owning all facets of what make you female- your creativity, your sexuality, your spiritual side, your physical health, your inner child, you wise crone, your intuition- whatever it is that makes you YOU. Owning Pink is about the whole kit and caboodle- all wrapped up in one Pink (or purple or black or green) package. It's about Owning it. Loving it. Hell, it's about REVELING in it. YOU are YOU, and that's a beautiful thing.

Tell me your thoughts, Pinkies. What color is your power color, and why? How do you feel about Pink? Love it? Want to stab it with a ninja knife? Join in on the debate, and let’s get this Pink Posse rockin’.

With loads of rainbow love,




Lissa Rankin's picture

Hah! AWESOME, Heidi! LOVE the

Hah! AWESOME, Heidi! LOVE the red being Pink's Mommy. I personally LOVE red. It's my favorite diva color to wear and it's one of my fave paint colors too. And yes, my daughter wears red, pink- and black. She has a book called "Urban Babies Wear Black" and she references that book whenever she's Owning Black!

Heidi Richardson Evans's picture

I am a pink hater, famous for

I am a pink hater, famous for "only wearing black until they invent a darker color" but I had an epiphane the other day- Pink is Red's daughter. Or shadow. Or something. Pink is related to red- and RED is my woman-big-moony-mojo color. Red is my sex, blood, goddess, deep inside self. So perhaps I can live with pink. My daughter does wear it, but I bought her some black tee shirts, too:)

Lissa Rankin's picture

Hah! You're funny, Michele!

Hah! You're funny, Michele! Love the gumball and Burger King references. Thanks for weighing in. Purple, white, and pale green? You go girl. Sounds like you're Owning it- your preferences, your opinions, your version of feminine. SO PINK!

Michele's picture

Well...I am adopted.

Well...I am adopted. Apparently, my mother ordered a "Pinkie" and another little gumball rolled down the chute instead. Hated pink as a little FLAMING redhead. What color did my mother make my room? You guessed it--in wallpaper of big roses, with a?? RED rug! PLUS that god-awful-white-rubbed-with-gold French Provincial girlie bedroom set--never mind the ENTIRE rest of the house is in mahogany--which I love and begged for!!! After becoming tired of my whining--my mother showed me--she painted my room the one color I hate even MORE than pink--YELLOW! But she kept the red rug--I LIVED IN BURGER KING!!! Wanna know when she "surprised" me by painting it BLUE (ironic, huh?) the color I wanted--with matching rug? When I moved out to college!!!??? That way--"I wouldn't mess it up." NO... I did not like having a color, and a style, and all that it meant, imposed on me--that was HER space, not mine. Now? My bedroom is purple with white and pale green accents with mahogany furniture--Phew! And it's quite feminine and romantic, thank you very much.

Lissa Rankin's picture

You're the best! This is

You're the best! This is exactly the conversation I wanted to start, so BRING IT, PINKIES! Tell us about your Pink experiences. Personally, I've always had an affinity for pink. Makes me feel like a bit of a rebel. I have pink patent leather "These boots are made for walking" boots with flower-shaped cut outs. And I dig my pink fur sandals. They just feel naughty, but in a different way than fuck me pumps or black motorcycle jackets. I don't know....maybe it's just me. Apparently, when I was a toddler, I always requested pink and green birthday parties. And only wore dresses, even when climbing trees. And I was a baby doll fanatic. So I grew up girly- so sue me! I still grew up to be a doctor, an artist, an author, and a CEO. What am I? Chopped liver?

I say Own it, baby. Don't hide your Pink and don't fake it. Just be real....

Joy's picture

I can't believe I forgot to

I can't believe I forgot to give props to the most awesome drawing ever. Talk about giggling on ... =)

eva's picture

For me pink is connected to a

For me pink is connected to a stereotype that I just can't abide. It's been used to put women in a box and demean them as delicate and pretty (my grandmother was made of solid yet supple steel and I can't recall her wearing pink either) and I don't like to be in a box.

I've been a tomboy all my life and pink was something my mother put on me when she tortured me to look cute for pictures or to go to church in a frock. (also things I avoid by the way)

I think pink just brings back all those "why are you different" arguments and so for me dissing pink is a way of standing up after 50 years of oppression!

I own my womanhood and as I've finally come out as gay I find even more reasons to be proud of women. Coming out finally released me to explore who women really are and discover the magical powers we all have. Maybe in that way I AM embracing what you think of as pink.

Gosh, no idea where that comes from but I think I'll blame you for making me think about it. Thank you for that!

Christa's picture

First off, I love the violent

First off, I love the violent PINK drawing at the top. Expresses my sentiments perfectly. May I add it to my "I REALLY hate pink" post?

I know you already quoted me (thanks by the way) but my feeling about being victimized by the mixture of white and red, PINK, can be found here:


I've been a life-longer hater of the color.

PURPLE, now that's my speed.

Frankly, since I was young, I always wanted to be neuter - no gender. I never liked the polarization of the sexes. I also may be odd for saying this (or get flamed) but I never had the desire to give life to another human being. Not even for a nano-second.

Being a girl has brought me more sadness that solace. But, I realize now at the age of 40, I better accept what I've got before it all wrinkles up and falls off. *laughing*

All that said, I do appreciate the message Owing Pink brings to the world. EMBRACE life in all forms, be creative, loving and playful.

I encourage you to continue your mission to create a land of pink (just leave me a couple square miles of purple and green and we'll be ok).

And Eva...you're my kinda anti-pinkie. :-)

Giggle On sistas, Giggle On!

Signed, The Hot PURPLE Goddess Extraordinaire

Joy's picture

I have one pink shirt. The

I have one pink shirt. The rest of the pink I wear is hidden on things like my socks and underwear (I just realized this). So although I'm trying to own it, I guess I still hide it too. Thanks for getting me to think about it in these terms. Right now I would say my power color is purple - a color associated with the seventh chakra, our connection to the divine.

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