You Better Think Millennial Pink


Pink is often associated with childishness. The pink bedroom walls of young girls, like the teddy sleeping next to them, are a token of girly-girl innocence constructed by parents based on societies wishes. That's why, when a girl is coming of age, teddy is beheaded and those pink walls are covered with famous faces. Famous faces who from now on will act as a guidance in taste and behaviour. It's a new age where the bubble of childhood must burst so a sense of independance and personal growth can kick in.

"Pink becomes a stupid colour for childish girls clinging to their beheaded teddies."

Pink therefore becomes a stupid colour for childish girls desperately clinging to their beheaded teddies. "Grow up! Pink is stupid! And so is your teddy!", the others yell dragging their headless teddies through the mud and stacking their lifeless bodies onto a campfire. They stay and watch them burn, possesively chanting kumbaya, with the face of their first celebrity crush looming over their left shoulder. Pink is a colour of the past. Pink is the colour of girls who don't grow up.

From girl-ism to gender neutral

However pink isn't just the colour of girly-girl innocence. And it isn't always abandoned by those who choose to behead, drag and burn their teddies. Because it's part of a clear gender identification between the two sexes most acknowledgded within society, pink can grow into an enhanced portrayal of girl-ism. Although those pink walls are covered, the token of girly-girl innocence still looms as a moral code over the behavioural instincts and actions printed into the pinkish minds.

Pink is therefore the base-line actively subverted by so called tomboys, doing everything they can to disassociate their existence from their girly-girl past, and highly magnified by grown up girly-girls personified in a (sometimes toxic) double act of Barbies and famous faces. It creates a tension and easily adaptable identification inflated by sociocultural codes.


So it's very interesting that out of all the colours that could be picked, it's our very own pink that dominates current off- and mainstream culture. Although millennial pink isn't every shade of pink, it certainly is defined by a range of pink shades. It's a colour scheme, according to the media, that already appeared in 2014 but really risen to fame last summer.[1]

"This pink is different", claims Lauren Schwartzberg in her millenial pink article. "For one thing, with Millennial Pink, gone is the girly-girl baggage; now it's androgynous. (...) It's been reported that at least 50 percent of millennials believe that gender runs on a spectrum - this pink is their genderless mascot."[2] And although it's not a specific pink that's being referred to, it sticks because it embodies an idea instead of just an aesthetic choice. That's also why everyone is writing about it, writes Nancy Mitchell in her article about millennial pink. She connects millennial pink to contemporary feminism.

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Unlike Barbie pink

Pink still is heavily connotated with a clear feminine gender identification. However this idea gets subverted not by playing with opposite (tomboy) signs, but by -quite literally- toning the pink down. Mitchell: "It is, in a lot of ways, defined more by what it isn't than what it is: Not Barbie. Not bubble gum. Not princessy."[3]

"Pink is used as a way to redefine what femininity nowadays entails."

This way millennial pink, unlike Barbie pink and the likes, embraces a certain femininity. Pink is used as a way to redefine what this femininity nowadays entails. Existentialism famously is pleated as a humanism, and feminism in this way tries to further develop and rebrand itself as a humanism too.


Because of the dominant FEMININE-associations that comes with the word feminism, oppositional positions are often taken (and exaggerated) against either societal favoured gender (within the media). By confiding to the first feminine associative colour and running away with it to a wider audience, these associations -over time- become less definitive. But it must be clear that just like a H&M top with 'Feminism is for everyone' on it, the excessive use of millennial pink within (social) media could also be part of popularism; playing into the pockets and likes instead of the morals and ethics. Because of its popularity the colour can lose its message like a dumbfounded Millennial discovering that Nirvana isn't a fashion brand but a 1990s grunge band (it's the age cap and overwritten marketing denotations no one can avoid).

Will the future be pink?

If you're a millennial pink lover, you most likely make the genius combination with green -preferebly some kind of cactus or succulent- to enhance your Instagram feed. And that's no coincidence (besides, you know, the aesthetic pleasure you get out of it), Pantone predicts that green will be the new it-colour representing the Trump years.[4]

Green, throughout history, is one of the most toxic colours to reproduce. In the 19th century potassium and white arsenic were used mixed with copper turmeric to make a beautiful bright green pigment to dye fabric with. However this beautiful and VERY TOXIC bright green poisoned the wearer and those around them causing headaches, rashes and sometimes even death. Luckily in 1860 the use of arsenic was banned, but there are still dresses found that were dyed with this deathly cocktail after the ban.[5]


Although green is one of my favourite colours, you can't escape the ironic connection between this poisonous history and the use of it as a front line colour for Trump. Unless green becomes symbolically significant to Trump's reign (which is unlikely or ironic in itself considering his stance on climate change), I think there's still hope for it to stay what it is: a perfect combination with (millennial) pink; protesting against all the bogus in the world and simultaneously creating an idealistic and aesthetically pleasing environment. Although teddy heads may roll, pink walls will hopefully help to break stigma and stimulate togetherness. And, most importantly, nice looking Instagram feeds.

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Sources:
[1] The Guardian, "Millennial Pink is the colour of now - but what exactly is it?" (22 March 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/shortcuts/2017/mar/22/millennial-pink-is-the-colour-of-now-but-what-exactly-is-it.
[2] L. Schwartzberg, "Why Millennial Pink Refuses to Go Away" (19 March 2017), https://www.thecut.com/2017/03/why-millennial-pink-refuses-to-go-away.html.
[3] N. Mitchell, "The Real Reason No One Can Shut Up About Millennial Pink" (10 May 2017), http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-real-reason-no-one-can-shut-up-about-millennial-pink-244900.
[4] See note 2.
[5] B.M. du Mortier, "Groen en gevaarlijk: boeken over de geschiedenis van kleur" (14 March 2017), https://www.modemuze.nl/blog/groen-en-gevaarlijk-boeken-over-de-geschiedenis-van-kleur.

Comments

  1. It's so interesting how just a colour has so many connotations. Pink has always meant that you're girly and boys would not want to be seen dressed in pink. But, now that's all changing men wear pink 'ironically' (how #hispter?!) or wear it to challenge those stereotypes, or because they just like it and they look good in it! Personally, I love pink and I will wear until it's no longer in trend. I even have a pink Barbie necklace - does that mean I'm a bimbo? No, it doesn't and shouldn't.
    I'd prefer to be less Barbie and more Legally Blonde! Haha
    X

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    Replies
    1. Haha! I think we should all strive to be Legally Blonde pink! It should truly be the only pink to survive every un/popular phase of pink! ;) #legallyblondeistheonlypinkyouneed

      I love how the perception of pink keeps changing in the eye of society. Notoriously starting off as a boys colour (as it was closer to the colour red which is apparently a manlier colour (I think it has to do with blood or something) and blue was naturally the colour of the virgin Mary and thus not particularly suited for boys). Then in the 18th century pink became increasingly popular with men AND women -influenced by the French. And it became more and more a girly colour in the centuries after that (I blame the Enlightenment). And now we've come to a new chapter where identity is not only being questioned but mostly the idea is extended to a much more 'all inclusive' package. Although it's quite remarkable that this -for centuries- girly pink is chosen as the 'gender neutral/mainstream' leader, I'm quite up for it (as the pictures may betray). And you're right, even if millennial pink is slowly fading away from our Instagram feeds, I love the colour too much to ignore it entirely. (#legallyblondeistheonlypinkyouneed). ;)

      Love,
      Dominique

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