The colour pink isn't just a girl's colour and the right person will love you almost as much as you love it

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NationalWorld reporter Rochelle Barrand explains why she’s a proud pink-a-holic

Barbie mania is everywhere at the moment and, for a pink lover like me, that means one very happy coincidence - everything seems to have turned the rose-coloured hue in honour of the iconic doll’s signature palette.

There’s Barbie collabs everywhere, from fashion lines to food products, and it seems as though the world is finally realising what I’ve always known - pink is the best colour of all. This is why I was all too happy to write a piece earlier this week about a woman called Katie Loveday who is a self confessed real life Barbie. I particularly resonated with Loveday when she said, “if I’m out shopping my eyes just naturally draw to pink things” because I am exactly the same. Just last week, I was having an unrelated conversation with friends and one said that when she enters a clothes shop she scans the rails for patterns she likes. I said that I scan the rails for anything pink and will immediately be drawn to areas where I spot it - whether it’s a baby pink, hot pink, fuschia, magenta or rose.

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There was another thing that Loveday said, however, which really struck a chord with me and actually quite upset me - and made me a little bit cross too. The comment was this: “I just expect people I’m dating to walk into my room and think the all pink is too much. I worry most people also want a partner who dresses more chill”. Now, I’m not criticising Loveday, not at all. I completely understand where she is coming from - society has gendered pink, in whatever shade or hue, as a female’s colour and, at the same time, made it wrong for a male to take a liking to it.

Now, you could argue that as a female pink addict I have conformed to social expectations and I’d be somewhat hard pressed to disagree with that, but what I can’t stand is this idea that women who love pink need to change themselves to find love. It attaches a sense of shame and embarrassment to it, but why should we be ashamed or embarrassed of our tastes? I admit I haven’t gone to the same extremes as Loveday to make absolutely everything in my life pink, though I greatly admire her dedication to it, but, one of the first things people notice when they meet me is my love of pink. I may not be always dressed head to toe in it - though I also am sometimes - but there will always be a pink element to my outfit, and it always stands out, be it my pink leather jacket, my pink diamante encrusted shoes or one of several pink flower fascinators which I wear in my hair on a daily basis.

I have also incorporated the colour pink into every room in my home, though again not every part of every room is pink. I have a pink glittery rug in both my lounge and bedroom, my kitchen is kitted out with a pink airfryer, a pink toaster and a pink kettle (which also lights up pink when it’s boiling), and my bathroom has pink towels. Again, new visitors to my home will always comment on it, and I’m proud of it. I even have prints on my walls with two of my favourite sayings: “anything is possible with sunshine and a little pink” and “the colour pink makes everything pretty” (both printed on pink card, of course). I’m a pink-a-holic and I don’t mind admitting it.

NationalWorld reporter Rochelle Barrand explains why she’s a proud pink-a-holic.NationalWorld reporter Rochelle Barrand explains why she’s a proud pink-a-holic.
NationalWorld reporter Rochelle Barrand explains why she’s a proud pink-a-holic.

But, Loveday’s comment got me thinking about society and how it assigns colours to one gender or another. Pink is not the only colour which is seen as being more for females, there’s also purple and red. Males, on the other hand, are expected to prefer blue, green or orange. But, has pink always been viewed as one for the girls? You may be surprised to learn it has not.

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I spoke to Jessica Andrews, a brand stylist and theatre designer, who has a specific interest in the history of colour and the symbolism and meanings behind colour choice, who said “just before the 1920’s, pink was considered the best colour for boys”. She told me about a trade publication for Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department in June 1918 which turns our modern gender classification on its head. It reads: “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

She added that the relationship between pink, and indeed blue, and the gender it is supposedly best suited to has changed over time. If we move forward to the 1950s, she said, pink had become a more feminine colour. “Mamie Eisenhower, who was the first lady of the United States from 1953 to 1961, was a big fan of pink and this boosted the popularity of the colour. Add to this the advent of marvellous inventions that made household chores simpler and the world of advertising had a field day. They assigned the first lady’s colour of choice to all things domestic. Plus, pink décor was installed throughout the White House.” As the 1950s was a time when it was traditional for women to do the household chores it was the women who used these new pink gadgets and the colour gained a feminine identity overall. However, even in the 1950s pink wasn’t just a domain for girls and women. Popular male icons of the day also embraced the colour, including legendary singer Elvis Presley who had an iconic pink Cadillac.

Pink has mostly remained a colour for women ever since, although there are still plenty of pink shirts for men on the racks of clothing stores too, and sometimes also pink shorts. I also spoke to Lindsay Edwards, a personal stylist and colour analyst, who told me that the perception of pink as a ‘girly’ colour may be changing. She said: Whilst pink is certainly not worn equally by men and women just yet, it is gradually shifting its socially imposed restrictions and becoming viewed as ‘just another colour’ that’s accessible to all”. I’m very pleased to hear this.

I would urge anyone loves pink to stay true to themselves as the right person will love you for exactly who you are.

Rochelle Barrand

Interestingly, some women have also been met with criticism previously when mirroring Barbie’s favourite colour. I spoke to award-winning celebrity stylist Natalie Robinson, known as Style Icon Nat, who told me that from her previous styling experience she found that dressing a client in pink was “risky”. She said: “When I styled a celebrity in a pink dress by Celia Kritharioti for Elton John's oscar viewing party a feature was headlined ‘celebrity makes a fashion faux pas in Barbie pink dress’. Fast-forward several years, and Barbie Pink is breaking the internet.” Natalie makes a valid point as the party she is referring to took place in 2015. Had the same party taken place now, in and amongst Barbie fever, the same look may have been received very differently. But that’s another topic . . .

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Back to my original point, I would urge Loveday - and anyone else reading this, be they female or male, who loves pink - to stay true to themselves as the right person will love you for exactly who you are. I know that’s a soppy cliche, but it’s true - and I speak from experience. I have felt the pressure to change my preference for pink over the years due to the fear that potential partners wouldn’t like it. In my late teens I bought a blue dress because my boyfriend at the time told me it suited me and it was a “good idea” to add different colours to my wardrobe. I regret doing so now. I never felt quite like myself when I wore that dress, and it soon found its way to the charity shop when that relationship ended and I no longer felt the need to impress him. 

I’m now in my late twenties, but I’ve still been on the receiving end of not so subtle comments and suggestions around my colour choices from romantic interests. Now that I’m older, I deal with it very differently. A couple of years ago a man I’d been dating for a little while released the full extent of my pink obsession when I cooked him a meal in my home and he saw my pink pans and kitchen utensils. I will never forget his response because it enraged me so much. He said “maybe you like pink too much, maybe you’re crazy”, which was then quickly followed up with the statement “i’m joking” and an awkward laugh. I knew there and then I never wanted to see him again because there was some truth lurking underneath his supposed joke and that he would never truly accept me. Also, he was just plain rude and offensive. But, again, that’s another topic. . . 

A short time later, however, I met the man I’ve been happily dating for almost two years now, Tom. I knew he was a keeper the first time he came into my home when he said “you have a strong theme and you’ve stuck to it, I like that”. His attitude was so welcoming and refreshing, and it’s remained that way ever since. So, don’t give up - your Ken or Barbie is out there and they will love you (almost) as much as you love the colour pink!

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