I’ve had my brown Timberland work boots for close to 15 years. I don’t wear them daily and I don’t actually do that kind of “work” for a living, so they’ve lasted. But over time they’ve worn down (as things will), developed a hole or two and well, my feet have gotten a bit bigger so they’re a bit tight. With the ease of internet shopping at my fingertips and the fact that I am most definitely a stress-shopper, I took my computer for a spin. Feeling a little bit like my grandfather (who could never get over $2 popcorn at the movies, calling it highway robbery), I was shocked at how expensive Tim’s had gotten. With a size 8 foot, I can often still get away with buying boys’ shoes size 6, but even those were pricey. I capriciously clicked on the sale link and found 1 pair of work-boots for sale in my size. They were literally less than half the price of any other boots I’d seen. Mirthful with my good fortune, I clicked “buy now” and bought them. They were pink.
I truthfully did not give a second thought to the color. I suppose if I’d had my druthers I would have wanted brown again (they go with everything). But I was more interested in sturdy, well-made, work boots that I can, well, work in (yard work, home repairs, etc). I was completely taken aback by the responses those boots got when they arrived.
Well, not completely. Nina’s response was fairly predictable. When she spied the boots her eyes widened and glazed over (did I mention the work boots are pink?), then she grabbed them and hugged them and then, quite literally, drooled on them as she said in a breathless whisper, “I love these”. Nina is well beyond the drooling stage, so this part of her response did surprise me just a bit.
What really was surprising was everyone else’s responses. A friend stopped by and saw the boots in the hall and, through peals of laughter said, “Whose are THOSE? Are you kidding?! You are NOT going to wear those are you?!” She couldn’t exactly explain why, but the thought of me wearing pink seemed utterly ridiculous to her. I asked if it was the contrast of pink and work-boot or if it was me and pink. She wiped a tear from her eye and said, “Pink and work-boot is just wrong. But the thought of you wearing pink is hysterical!”
I posted a photo of Nina wearing the boots (I’m telling you, the child could not control herself) and within minutes there were responses of total disbelief. Questions (directed at me) of, “you WILL wear pink?! I don’t get it!” and comments of “I’ll believe it when I see it” popped up within minutes. When did the color pink become a laughingstock in the world of colors? And when did wearing pink elicit such gynophobic reactions? What is wrong with pink?!
Admittedly, I’ve never been drawn to pink myself. I also have to admit that I have avoided wearing it most of my life because of the negative associations I felt it had and the fact that I didn’t identify as a girl. In my defense, the connection between girly and the color pink does pre-date me. As does the negative connotations about boys wearing pink. But where the hell did it all come from and why do we subscribe to it still?!
Jo Paoletti does a great job in explaining what she believes to be the origins in the pinkisforboys.org blog. I understand from her that many factors went into the formation of pink as a girl color. At the same time, I’m pretty horrified by our cultural mores about being a girl. Being a girl, wearing pink, is so shameful?! What’s up with that?!
I ask these questions from such a third party subscriber kind of position. I identify (and always have in my mind and heart) as a boy. I was born a girl. When I wonder why can’t I just let those two things be true and live with it, it’s hard to parse out how much this shit plays in to mess with my already slightly muddled mind. I already feel the shame of the fact that my outer body doesn’t match my inner being. And on top of that disquiet, the piece of me that I don’t relate to is held in surreptitious contempt in our society?! That’s a hard pill to swallow. I’m going to have to chew on this for a while. In the meantime, I’ll keep wearing my new Tim’s.