Pink is not just for girls. I repeat, pink is not just for girls.
For decades, pink has been associated with femininity. Femininity has been associated with weakness. Men cannot and should not be weak. They need to be strong at all times, regardless of the implications these expectations inspire. Our ideas about masculinity are incredibly toxic and are teaching young men, worldwide, that they shouldn't have emotions because emotions are inherently feminine, and anything feminine is bad. Let's dissect why this train of thought is bringing forth a generation of young men who possess very little emotional intelligence.
First, emotions are a normal part of the human experience. Everyone has them. Everyone feels anger, happiness, sadness, and excitement. However, emotions that have negative connotations, like sadness and anxiety, are emotions we are not encouraged to share with others. Regardless, women are still more likely to talk about them in a way that men aren't. Men are told to man up, suck it up, be a man, grow a pair and to not share these emotions with anyone, particularly when it comes to negative feelings. Several of the men I know don't even have the vocabulary necessary to express negative emotions and have a tremendously hard time recognizing when these feelings are no longer healthy — ones that are problematic and might require medical attention. We need to normalize vulnerability in men and teach the men in our lives to stay in touch with their emotions. Discussing one's feelings and emotions should not be something left only to women, it should be genderless. Feeling should be seen as a normal aspect of living as a person.
Second, femininity does not equal weakness and being feminine is not a bad thing. Society has conditioned everyone, not just men, to equate femininity and weakness. Therefore, all things considered feminine will be thought of as less than. This teaches men to treat women as less than, especially feminine women. Who hasn’t heard negative comments portraying women who love shopping and makeup as superficial, girly-girls as high maintenance, and so many other superfluous stereotypes? Men can be feminine without stripping themselves of their Big Boy Card. Men can enjoy things that are seen as traditionally feminine, and should, without being made to feel guilty for it. Men should be able to enjoy bubble baths and facemasks and shopping and, yes, wearing pink, just as much as women do. To be at ease with oneself should mean letting go of the toxic ideas about gender that society has imposed upon us.
So, boys of the world, don't be afraid to love pink and don't be afraid to enjoy femininity. Those who tell you otherwise should be ignored. You have as much of a right to enjoy the feminine in this world as anyone, and no, it will not taint your masculinity. If you think it will then you still have work to do and hopefully, one day, you will reach a place where both the feminine and the masculine within you can co-exist peacefully. Until then, shout out to all the boys out there wearing pink shirts and pink socks and loving life just the same or even more. Pink is yours too. Claim it.
Inês Mendonça is a writer based in Portugal and a Pink Things intern.