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.