In the Pink – the Great Marshmallow Debate

More years ago than I care to remember, my sister and I were watching Playschool. In the episode we were watching, the young male presenter (whose name escapes me – let’s call him Barry), was wearing a typically eighties top, pastel coloured with a pattern of geometric blocks of colour. One of the blocks was coloured a soft, baby-pink. My sister and I were too young at the time to know about homosexuality, but we sure knew that pink was NOT a boy’s colour: ‘Look at him! He’s a girl! He’s wearing pink!’ we trilled excitedly. My mum was not impressed by our stereotyping: ‘Just because he’s wearing pink, it doesn’t mean he’s a girl,’ she sighed, possibly worried that the ‘sometimes men like other men instead of ladies’ conversation was on the cards. She needn’t have worried – I remember feeling embarassed, even at the age of seven, that I’d slighted young Barry’s masculinity.

This memory reared up from my subconscious recently, with the recent fashion for pink menswear. I like to think of myself as being a liberal-minded person, but when my boyfriend started developing a fondness for pink clothing, I couldn’t surpress my childhood image of a man in pink as a sissy. ‘It’s okay,’ my boyfriend assured me, ‘I read in GQ that pink’s in this season. As long as you don’t wear anything too soft like a jumper, you can pull it off.’ Like any sensible person, I defer to GQ in matters in style, and let the ensuing purchase of a pink Lacoste polo shirt pass. I even admired subsequent t-shirt purchases, including a fetching Jake’s Lucky 7 number. I was slightly alarmed when a tight long-sleeved t-shirt was produced, but was assured that it would only be worn under a short-sleeved shirt, and I had to admit it looked quite nice with a white top over it. Then the ultimate test for my prejudices was purchased – a baby pink jumper. No matter that it was John Smedley, well-made with high-quality yarn, I was unconvinced. ‘GQ said if you wear a pink jumper you’ll look like a marshmallow!’ I complained, but my boyfriend was unconcerned.

I’m not the only one whose prejudices are being tested by the fashion for pink. At a recent pub outing, the aforementioned Jakes t-shirt might as well have been a Prince Harry-style Nazi outfit for the shock it caused – a fervently heterosexual man wearing pink? The drinking buddies didn’t know where to look? And there have been other sly comments which imply that pink-lovers must be friends of Dorothy.

But you can’t escape men in pink this season. While girls are faced with drab autumnal browns and greens, menswear sections are positively overflowing with shades of powder pink and dusky rose. It seems that all the designers are embracing their inner girl and thinking pink. And you have to applaud them. In this world of rising violent crime and terrorists under the bed, you can’t blame men for wanting a bit of softness in their lives, even if it is only a pair of pink socks.

Category: A woman's view

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