Real Women Wear Pink
“Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed.”
I was approximately four years old when I fell deeply, madly in love. Contrary to what the scribbled hieroglyphics in my diary would have you believe, five-year-old Adam Greenberg and his adorable striped turtlenecks were not the objects of my undying affection.
I’d had crushes before, certainly. Adam and I, for example, had previously shared a very special moment on a sagging plastic couch in our preschool’s playroom. One time, I kissed Warren Steimatzky on the cheek, and I thought Johnny Bravo was so cute! Compared to the transcendent passion I would soon experience, however, these liaisons barely qualified as passing flirtations. Here was an entirely new brand of worship.
I first laid eyes on Princess Aurora’s ball gown at my grandparents’ house in Riverdale. It was Saturday night, and—sure enough—the lights were low. Securing their reputation as more indulgent caregivers than my own parents, Opa and Nana had plied me with crumb cake, strawberries and ice cream earlier that evening. Now, they slipped Sleeping Beauty into their VCR and parked me in front of the television. It was in this kiddie version of Kubla-Khan’s pleasure dome that I encountered it.
One look and I knew: the color pink and I were soul mates.
The author in her Pink Power Ranger costume, left, and in some sort of monochromatic candy colored confection, right.
I should say that I’d never been much of a “girly girl.” At least, not in the conventional sense. I didn’t care to live in Barbie’s Dreamhouse or Rapunzel’s tower. (Gilded cages! All of them!) I hated glitter and found sequins itchy. I wanted to be Nancy Drew. Disney princesses, on the other hand, were less appealing. It wasn’t that I objected to their inherently sexist narratives or unrealistic storylines. I didn’t begrudge them their lilting voices or ability to communicate with small, squirrely mammals. But unlike so many of my peers, I had no desire to follow in Cinderella’s glass-slippered footsteps. Even then, I was a realist. As a frizzy-haired, tone-deaf toddler, I knew better than to blindly hope for such an unlikely future. Animated royalty was not my destiny.
Besides, I was three-dimensional. And brunette.
But while Aurora’s life and mine diverged in an enchanted wood, her bubblegum-colored wardrobe remained firmly within reach. I may have been young, but this much I understood: A significant other is meant to bring out the best in you. Armed with my already rosy complexion, I set out to make this complementary color my own.
Our romance was ardent, enduring, and borderline obsessive.
The following summer, I wore a lace, pink dress to attend my cousin’s wedding and begged my mother to find shoes that matched. I bemoaned my school’s navy blue uniform and slept in cotton-candy-colored nightgowns. Year after year I blew out an increasing number of candles on pink frosted cakes. I got a salmon-hued leather jacket and a pair of blush high-top sneakers. Even the Jackie-O-inspired suit I would eventually wear to my Bat Mitzvah service was a confectionary, pale pink. In retrospect, it remains among the most gorgeously sophisticated outfits I’ve ever laid eyes on.
Eventually, of course, the spell broke. By the time I started high school, pink seemed suddenly too sweet to take seriously. Sure, “real men” sported it, but could grown-up women? The mere existence of Paris Hilton suggested that: no, they could not.
Gradually, then, I began to experiment with black miniskirts and brown sweaters and fifty shades of grey cashmere. Soon, I fell into an easy uniform of dark, edgy neutrals. I bought a ruby-red cocktail dress and a pair of olive green skinny jeans. Denim was a revelation! So was buttery leather and rich, cobalt blue. Pink — now relegated to delicate lingerie and a lone pair of ballet flats — quickly lived up to its girlish, frivolous reputation.
That is, until last winter.
Marching down the Fall 2013 catwalks of February, a made-over pink resurfaced in spectacular fashion. Dusky, pastel iterations of it graced the runways of Céline, Simone Rochas and Carven. This season, matchmakers at Kenzo and Rochas dressed the color up in mohair and boucle and boiled wool. I spotted it on Vogue.com and Michelle Obama. You probably saw it photographed on the arm — or shoulders — of Hannah Bronfman and Alexa Chung. If you did, you know that it didn’t just look good. It looked strong. No longer the meek rosé of Aurora’s robes or even a riff on Elsa Schiaparelli’s shocking pink, this new hue is somehow steelier. The woman wearing it is one you don’t want to cross. In fact, she’s someone I want to be.
And so like scores of remorseful lovers (and Michael Jackson) before me, I have only this to say: Ooh baby, I want you back.