My son’s favorite color is¬†pink¬†and most people hate it.
It started on his second birthday when his sister was born. ¬†Even though we didn’t buy anything new for our second child, we received the obligatory gifts of¬†pink¬†blankets and toys. ¬†Our family kept it to the bare minimum but it was enough to catch the eye of our perceptive toddler. Envious of the new baby, he coveted everything small and¬†pink. ¬†From there, it took on a life of its own. Pink¬†straw,¬†pink¬†cup,¬†pink¬†crayon,¬†pink¬†cookie. Everything had to be¬†pink. He openly announced to everyone “pink¬†is MY favorite color.”
Some warn me “he is going to be a pansy.” Of course these people also know me and the fact that I discourage competition and hate the word “winning.” ¬†His love of pink seems to push them over the edge. ¬†But if being a “pansy” means they are insinuating he will be weak, all evidence is to the contrary. ¬†Even at three years old he knows what he likes. ¬†Since declaring his favorite hue at school, he has been met with the tired claim that “pink¬†is for girls” from his peers. ¬†He doesn’t care. He maintains every day that he loves the color. ¬†Weak, my ass. ¬†This kid knows what he likes and stands behind it. ¬†A year and a half¬†since his first declaration, he hasn’t backed off in his passion for pink. ¬†That’s like a decade in toddler years.
Eighteen months¬†into this trend, I’ve seen him tell quite a few people about his favorite color. Without fail, he always gets a reaction. ¬†Some pause a moment and simply accept it, but others are visibly uncomfortable with his preference. ¬†Tactics range from distraction, “don’t you want this BLUE thing instead?” to the negative, “no, boys don’t like¬†pink.” ¬†I am surprised how many people — in New York City, where we live — try to¬†dissuade him from picking¬†pink¬†all the time. We’re talking everyone from babysitters to class moms.
Although I will admit there is a certain symmetry in this situation. ¬†My favorite color as a child was¬†pink and many family members tried to talk me out of it. ¬†It enraged my feminist mother. ¬†She was trying to raise a daughter who didn’t buy into commercial notions of what made her a woman. ¬†She wanted it to be my choice. ¬†And I choose pink, despite the fact that I never owned a Barbie or learned to bake. ¬†At five years old I didn’t think of pink as girly. ¬†It was simply pleasing to my eye. Now my son has the same feelings. ¬†I can’t change that and I don’t want to. ¬†I also don’t think it has larger implications as to his sexuality or his “toughness.” ¬†It’s just a color and it is one he likes.
What is far more disappointing is my son’s peers repeating the outdated mantra. ¬†They tease him, “pink¬†is for girls!” ¬† Really? ¬†With all the feminist backlash about marketers targeting girls with pink and all the availability in men’s fashion, I would think people had given up on this silly notion.
If they are inappropriately and offensively inferring he will be gay because he likes the color¬†pink, they need to arrive here in the year 2012. ¬†I’ve worked on Wall Street and I can tell you straight men in finance wear¬†pink¬†to work. ¬†Not only that, but gay men regularly don neutral tones. ¬†Can you imagine? ¬†Members of the gay community masking themselves in blue, black or brown? ¬†It’s true. ¬†The color pink is simply a preference — some human beings like it, some don’t.
If my son is gay I will support him 100% but I doubt if he has any clue about sexuality at the age of three. ¬†Even if he did, I can be certain he isn’t ready to decide his life-long mating habits in preschool. ¬†Determining one’s own identity — sexual and otherwise — is a long and often winding road — but I can promise you it doesn’t start with deciding pink is your favorite color.