WHEN DID PINK GET SO POLITICAL?

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WHEN DID PINK GET SO POLITICAL?
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Elle Woods: the O.G. of re-appropriating pink

IF, LIKE ME, YOU SPEND ROUGHLY EVERY LAST ONE of your waking hours on Instagram – give or take – then you can’t fail but to have noticed the brouhaha surrounding the interweb’s latest discovery – the pink pineapple. Insta-fodder for days, this millennial dream has been conjured by some pretty crafty folk over at Del Monte, rolling them out worldwide and causing a social-media meltdown in the process.

Not that we need much encouragement, mind. Give us something pink, or something sparkly, and we’ll show you what a viral stampede looks like. Remember what happened when Starbucks launched the Unicorn Latte? Pink pandemonium.

And it’s not just pineapples. One look at the runways, the street, even the interiors of your nearest and dearest, shows the shade insidiously taking over – steadily gaining traction over the last few years, and now boom; we’ve woken up to find the world plastered in Pepto-Bismol.

Bastions of cool everywhere have decreed it the new black – Alessandro Michele at Gucci sending out turban-and-sunglasses combos that Barbara Cartland would have been proud of, and Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia combining controversial candyfloss hues with that other final fashion frontier, Spandex. You can’t swing a cat online without bumping into an article in The Guardian about the meaning of millennial pink. Even girls I know who would have previously balked at anything so resolutely pretty are now playing with the possibilities of pink – swapping their Acne Pistol boots for fur-lined fuchsia flats instead.

And yet… it feels a little off. Surely now, a time so hyperaware of gender inequality that millions of women took to the streets to protest it mere months ago – in magenta cathats, no less – is a bizarre time for designers to have painted the town pink, and even weirder that we, as feminists, have embraced a colour so entwined with negative female stereotypes with such fervour.

“[Pink means] weakness and a lack of intellectual rigour,” writes style consultant Angela Weyers, something that campaigns such as Pinkstinks have concurred with for years, targeting the use of the colour in marketing to young girls, claiming it to be dangerously prescriptive. The Everyday Sexism organisation says it helps spread the patriarchal message that “women cook, men work.” Poor old pink. Talk about an image problem.

So surely now, when we should be doubling efforts to make our voices heard as women, and surely now, after countless studies connecting the “pinkification” of girlhood to body dysmorphia and skewed career choices, now is the time to buck against bubblegum hues and all they stand for. Right? Right?

Er, wrong, actually. Forget what you heard. Pink ain’t what it used to be. There’s great swathes of women reclaiming it as powerful, political and positively badass. After all, what’s more subversive than taking a colour so linked to perceived weakness, and turning it on its head to challenge assumptions about femininity? It’s pink as punk. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s blinding them with glitter while we shatter the glass ceiling with our Mattel-pink lady-hammers, fuelled by the anger that they’re 20 per cent more expensive than normal hammers. It’s a lesson in not judging a book by its cover. But much more than that, it’s what modern feminism looks like.

I’d like to think I’ve done my bit. All my life I’ve come up against stereotyping. As a blonde, pink fan, I’ve been written off as ditzy at best, downright thick at worst, with a host of other charming assumptions in between. Bimbo. Gold-digger. Idiot. WAG. I’ve been patronised and mansplained to, dismissed and overlooked. In the eyes of others, my love of pink was shorthand for my inferiority, something that I learned to use to my advantage, semi-joking that it lulled people into a false sense of security while I busily did things like jotting down their PIN number or quietly stealing their cat.

I didn’t always succeed, of course. I’m hardly an evil genius. But there’s something to be said about the pitfalls of underestimating pink – and women in general, to be honest. The future is female, but if you ask me, it’s also fuchsia.

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