why all this pink? good question

Not that anyone has yet to ask me, “Why all the pink?”. But I have been second guessing myself on the calls Barbie pink and swishy motif. I suppose I had a few Barbie dolls when I was a kid. The blonde was a bore and well behaved and hung out with Ken. The brunette had a life and was always running off with the fuzzy headed G.I. Joe. She was a good bad girl. But I really spent very little time with a Barbie in hand or imagining her story, instead you could find me with a ball in hand standing in the street playing four square, climbing a tree or building fort was more likely to be my adventure of the day. I was and still am a tomboy, outdoorsy, residually athletic, sculptress and home renovator with a hint of the feminine.

In 2008 I spent three weeks on the playa [Burning Man]. The first and last weeks were spent installing and deinstalling an installation. The mild week was an introverts nightmare, but I experienced it like a social experiment in the malleability of identity. I suppose this was my brunette good bad girl moment. In that middle week 50,000 extraverts and artists gathered for ___ in the desert. Most came in little tribal groups with a tribe theme and appropriate garb. I decided to go as a girl. I hit the thrift shops and picked up little summer frocks–skirts, dresses and scarfs (to use as a dust mask). Did I think I wasn’t a girl prior to this? No really and I am not a lesbian nor do I have penis envy. Yet I haven’t subscribed to the trappings of doing my gender. I am simply a tomboy and my historic wardrobe was composed of Levis, overalls and baggy t-shirts.

From what did my choice to do gender at Burning Man and swishy icons and Barbie pink arise from?

Why now? A short teleport back in time and perhaps I can kick up some possibilities.

Each phase of school, I road in the wake of the front edge of change the femininist movement was bringing. In elementary school, I entered the first year girls were allowed to wear “pant suits” and by primary’s end I was chasing Ronald Queen in my Sear’s Toughskin jeans. “Blue jeans” were not yet permitted, so mine were red with stitched Xs on the back pocket and patches preemptively lined the knees. My first year of junior high “blue” jeans and hip huggers were permitted. By high schools end, I was donning sweatpants and girls basketball had converted to a full court game. In college I wore whatever the hell I wanted to class and the basketball for women was reduced in diameter to better fit a females hands, which significantly accelerated the game.

In three interviews that each landed me a job, I declared that I would not be wearing dresses to work. So where and when did feminine frocks show up in my wardrobe and pink in my design palette?

Hmmm. Around age forty-seven.

It was the year I preemptively began grieving the loss of my “feminininty” as peri-menapause encroached. I remember the exact moment when it cognitively hit me and spilled from my lips. In route home from a mother’s day lunch at my former in-laws home I began voicing to my spousal unit this sense of loss of femininity. The conversational unpacking of my struggle was short lived for he instantly counter with “WHAT! You mean my mom is not a woman?” Bam. He understood biological sex but not engenderment as it linked with identity.

But why grief? Crap, I had only just been discovering a sense of my own femininity. I had only just begun donning femininity in a way that felt comfortable. Now this isn’t to say I was unaware and not embedded in female gender conventions or performance, but minimization of these was my practice where I was cognizant. Yet this still doesn’t clearly spell out my inclination toward pink and pink didn’t fully enter my vocabulary in a way that entertained me and didn’t feel forced until perhaps three years later. But why pink?

My best guess? Flush cheeks, red lips are cues of sexual desire and are associated with youth, fertility. Am I walking around all crazy with desire? No, but I am watching the wrinkles form, feeling the ache of age and perimenapause still toys with me and I think I am countering with cultural cues, pink, that link me to youth and feminine desirability.

I am certainly not going to claim that I actually see clearly within myself and into amalgamation of cultural citations that form the core of my slowly shifting identity. Yet I think pink is purely a compensatory gesture.

Then there is the strand that overtly suggests to the viewer based on cultural context of gender, hey, this is something about femininity.

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