Pink is the New Black

June has a new favorite color. Yes, it’s that one. For a year a half, from the age of two until just a couple weeks ago, she favored yellow and I was quietly, possibly even a bit smugly, proud of her originality. I’d look around at the swarms of little girls in head-to-toe pink at the library or at music class and then I’d look at June, dressed either in her older brother’s hand-me-downs or in the dresses I’d buy her (in blue or purple or green) or in the yellow clothes she picked out. I’d think we were breaking the mold, she and I. We were in this together. No following the crowd for us.

Well, that’s all over now.

We had some warning it was coming. Last spring she started saying pink was her second favorite color, after yellow. When the Bugs class made their paper lanterns for the end of the year celebration, she chose pink paper over yellow. Her teacher Andrea, who knows her way around the preschool set (and has two daughters of her own in elementary school) told us she’d be crossing over to the pink side soon. And she has.

I took it pretty well at first. It’s just a color I told myself, not an ideological worldview. I even have a pink shirt myself, which is something I would have never worn as a kid or really until the past few years. It’s comfy and I wear it a lot. June had almost no pink clothes that fit, so I bought her a pink long-sleeved t-shirt, a pair of pink and orange striped leggings and two pairs of pink socks. I was looking for versatile pieces that could make a lot of outfits without having to invest in a whole new wardrobe.

Even Beth, who was more alarmed than I was at the pink turn of events, melted when June asked her “pwease, Bef” for the pink cardigan with little hearts on it and the pink hooded sweatshirt with the picture of Dora on the front while they were shopping at Value Village ( during their Columbus Day sale. “I love Dora,” June often says. I’m not sure if she realizes Dora has a television show or not. She may think she just adorns Band Aids, toothbrushes and hoodies.

But of course sometimes pink is an ideological worldview. Along with June’s newfound passion for pink have come a lot of stern pronouncements about what boys do and what girls do. She chastises Beth for having “boy hair.” She says the stuffed animals belong to her and to Noah but the dolls are all hers because “dolls are for girls.” This despite the fact that two of the three dolls she owns used to belong to Noah, and one was a cherished favorite of his when he was a toddler. I know this is normal. She trying to figure out the big, complicated mess of gender and to get her brain around it she needs to simplify it. This is why she has latched on to pink with such ferocity, why she points to every pink toy she sees in a catalogue and says she wants it, why she will point to a girl she doesn’t know in public and declare she is her “favorite girl” just because she happens to be wearing pink. The fanaticism is starting to wear on us and it’s only been a few weeks.

So I have been asking everyone I know with a daughter older than June these questions:

1) Did she go through the pink phase?
2) When did it start?
3) How long did it last?

Feel free to answer them in the comments. I’d love more data. So far, everyone says yes, she did, but there’s a lot of variation in the age question. When June was much younger, someone told me it would be all pink, all the time from the age of two to ten. So I took comfort in the fact that we’d made it well past three and I thought we were home free. But when I ask now, people tell me it started any time between two and four. Ending dates go from not quite five to ten. I’m hoping we can get through it as quickly as possible. Six and a half years seems like a long time to me, although there’s general agreement that the preschool years are the most pink-intensive ones.

Of course, while Beth and I see it as conformity, there is another way to look at it. Beth mentioned June’s new favorite color while talking to her mother on the phone the other day. She had her on speaker so I overheard the conversation. As Beth wondered how this could have happened, YaYa said, “She’s learned to rebel early.” And I think I heard a trace of amusement in her voice. She is going to give us the grief we dress-eschewing tomboys gave our mothers in reverse. The chickens have come home to roost.

After several days of very intense interest in what she was going to wear for the day, June didn’t seem to care this morning, so I got out a pair of jeans that used to be Noah’s, a yellow t-shirt, yellow socks and yellow barrettes. (She does still like yellow. It’s her second favorite, she says.) She accepted the outfit without comment. We went to Spanish Circle Time at the library. I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the toddler girl next to her was wearing embroidered jeans, a pink t-shirt and a pink hair ribbon. It wasn’t until we were dancing around to the music that the girl faced me and I could see her shirt said, “Pink is the New Black.”

Around here, it is. It’s just going to take some getting used to.

Note: My dad completed his chemotherapy and radiation treatment earlier this month. According to his doctors, the tumor in his throat seems to be completely gone and his vocal chords are still functional. About that, we are all tickled pink.

  • Teaberry

    Hmmm… I can’t really speak to this, as I don’t have a daughter, but I know I never went through a pink phase myself. I always liked turquoise when I was a kid. I like pink now, (yellow is my all time favorite, though) and hope my son likes pink. I guess it’s opposite, depending on what you’ve got: boy or girl…

    glad to hear about your Dad, also.

  • Kathryn

    Well, as you know, the blue gingko loves pink, even though I SWORE I’d never have my daughter in that pepto-bismol color.  Even her pink phase is waning.  Her favorite color is “orangegreenpinkyellowredbluegreen” these days.  She likes all colors now.  She also struggles with what’s for boys and what’s for girls.  Eli never did this.  She has clear ideas about this that I try to explain away with little effect

  • Grandmom

    Go June!  I still love pink.

  • Aunt Peggy

    Oh Steph,
    Just be glad it is only a color you are concerned about today.  Wait until June sports her first tattoo.  Yes, it will very likely come, as I am noticing that nearly everyone under thirty reveals at least one these days.  For me, the shock was when Emily finally revealed hers–a full leg version of a Chinese dragon.  Josiah, told her to let us know about it by saying, Mom, tell her “I got a tattoo and I hate green eggs and ham,” which she did.  And I hate tattoos–but the point is Emily does not, and things are as they are, right?  Oh yes, about pink, she had a favorite pink jacket that she wore from 18 months untiil about 3 years of age.  And at 18 months she very distinctly had her own opinion.  I had picked out another one, and she pointedly told me in the store, “If you buy that one, I will never wear it!.  We bought the pink one and it was her favorite for a long time.

  • Oooo, fun topic, and I love the “rebel” angle of it!  I HAVE wondered if all my non-pink-loving, “my daughter won’t have a Pepto-Bismal wardrobe” peers would find their daughters wearing nothing but pink, while I, pink-loving and girly-stuff-loving from an early age, would find my daughter refusing to have anything to do with it.

    My girl is 4, and I can’t remember when she started expressing a preference for pink.  She often refers to pink as if it is something exclusive to her and me:  it’s a girl color, is her point, but only in that boys may not wear it ha ha ha.  Like, it BELONGS to girls rather than that girls must wear/prefer it.

    For awhile she was saying that she couldn’t wear blue because blue was a boy color, but I kept saying no it wasn’t (I say the same about pink being a girl color), and also pointing out that (1) manufacturers were making girl clothes in blue and (2) about half of my shirts are blue.  So now she likes blue too, though more turquoise and periwinkle than royal.

    I loved pink as a child, and I loved it until I realized it sounded cooler to say I didn’t.  So then I said my favorite color was green, or blue, or yellow, or black, depending on my age and how cool I wanted to sound.  Then in my early twenties, I think, I thought, “Well…..if pink IS my favorite color, then perhaps I should just SAY SO.”  Honesty:  the coolness of the early twenties.

  • carole

    Steph,   I never particularly liked pink and still don’t – for myself that is.   I don’t think my kids had favorites — or else I just didn’t ask them.  (Our generation!)   Meg did insist on impractical yellow shoes once and I gave in and she remembers how she loved them.   But know this. In the “50’s” in my high school years — for a year or so pink was OK for a boy’s shirt — I had a big crush on a “neat” guy and thought he was just divine in his pink shirt.   Enjoyable blog.   You write so wonderfully.  Carole

  • sister sara

    I don’t remember loving pink as a child, and I specifically remember pink NOT being cool as an anarchist feminist androgenous vegan young 20-something. But then in my late 20s I realized I actually do like girly things and I actually do like pink. So much so, it’s my favorite hair color.