Every few years we find ourselves confronted with the ‘boy wears pink’ headline and parents finding they are confronted with having in some way explain their son’s colour choice.
This happened to UK TV presenter Emma Willis when she found herself on a daytime chat show a couple of years ago saying she was ‘overwhelmed’ by the reaction to her son, Ace, (who was 9 years old at the time) wearing pink, saying “He’s just my son in a pink top.”
It seems the moment a boy wears pink, it’s as if a colour crime has been committed.
Clearing up the gender colour myth
We have this cultural belief that pink is for girls and blue for boys which isn’t helped by manufacturers and marketers ingraining this belief into us, creating everything imaginable in pink and blue.
So let’s clear something up. There is no such thing as gender colours. This is a myth – just clever marketing. And while we’re at it, there’s no such thing as gender neutral colours or gender fluid colours either.
However, it seems not everyone is yet onboard.
Over the years I’ve had many people come to me saying their son liked pink and should they be worried. It got me wondering what was it that they were really worried about. After all, there is no one questioning when girls wore blue.
I ask them one simple question – “Do you hug and cuddle your son?” I always get a bewildered look and their reply is always “of course!”
My reply – “If cuddles were a colour, they would be pink.”
And here’s why.
Positive psychological traits of pink
When we look at the positive psychological traits of pink, it’s the colour that expresses compassion, nurturing, caring and empathetic love. This is not the exclusive domain of little girls or women. Empathetic love is just as much for boys as it is for girls, and is just as easily expressed by men as it is by women.
When I first wrote this post back in March 2021, and if my Instagram post at the time was anything to go by, more and more men are embracing pink and yet parents, like Emma, were still finding themselves having to explain their son’s colour choice.
Pink being just for girls, that’s like we are denying boys and men to show their softer, caring, compassionate side.
Children learn that ‘pink is for girls’ from adults. It’s starts with us, changing our own indoctrinated belief around pink and not passing it down to our children.
I’ve long been a supporter of pink for everyone even in those ‘pink stinks’ campaign days when the colour was absolutely vilified. Yes, you could say I’m ‘seeing red’ about how pink is still seen as a no-go colour for boys.
Colour connects us to our emotions
We are emotional beings and colour helps connect us to our emotions. We can express how we are feeling through colour without having to say a word.
Children love colour, just watch them paint, draw, colouring in. They love to experiment, explore and have fun. Telling a child their colour choices are wrong is akin to telling them to not trust their own instincts and their own decisions.
Ace knows the colours he loves saying “Why do I have to dress in green and blue and grey, when I love red and pink and purple?”
Emma fully supports her son expressing himself through colour ‘For me that’s normality. He loves colour, he’s always had long hair, he’s a free and able-minded boy.”
Do you think it’s time for a major overhaul in the attitudes of those aiming pink exclusively at girls and letting the boys in?
If Acer is anything to go by, they love it!
Barbie’s Ken makes wearing pink OK
With pink exploding all around us at the moment, let’s see if the Barbie’s Ken dressed in pink is enough to make boys wearing pink OK!
What are your thoughts? I’d love to know in the comments below.
Wishing you a colourful day
Emma supports My Boy Can project, a great initiative which aims to support boys towards a positive male gender.
Instagram post – Boys wearing pink
Original post March 2021. Updated August 2023.