You would think making my hair cotton candy pink would make me feel soft, feminine, weak. I, too, thought it would make me feel girly.
And I mean girly in that derogatory way that most people mean it. And, by the way, it must stop. “Girly” was something people said with the word, “ew”, in front. As in, “Ew, that’s so girly!” I remember high school being a minefield of such judgments.
The above sentence was met with one of two responses. Either, favorable, as in, “Oh I know,” with a giggle. Picture that girl, we all knew one. No judgment on life choices, you do you, but to play into the negative connotations of the term bothered me, and bothers me still.
The other response was unfavorable and defensive. “No, I’m not”, met with a snarl, “You don’t know me.” Often this was followed by a show of how “tomboy” the girl could be, such as a challenge to an arm-wrestle or race.
The second response was mine. I worked hard to appear boyish. To my fellow classmates, you were either girly or tomboy- no in-between. It never occurred to us, new to adolescence, that you could wear makeup but win the arm wrestle, or wear men’s clothing and love pink.
So, to me, being called “feminine” or “girly” equaled weak. To the public, I wanted to be the tomboy. Boys were strong and fearless, allowed to do anything without being told to be careful. Today, I watch my daughter struggle with the same thing.
Secretly, I walked that line. I wore boy’s jeans and baggy tops. I climbed trees with the boys, jumping down into piles of grass, choking back my fear of heights. I rode my bike faster to appear fearless. I watched horror movies I hated and laughed at the scary parts, secretly terrified and later unable to sleep (for DAYS).
But when I went home? My bedroom was where I retreated as soon as I got home from school. Laying on my carpet, I would listen to CDs and flip through magazines or read. It’s where I started to write poetry and short stories, and it’s where I read the first novel that made me cry.
And it was the most feminine room, ever. Think pink. Think Gone With The Wind curtains, in a bright and cheerful pink. My curtains tied back with the frilliest ribbons, with ruffles everywhere. It set the tone for the rest of the room, with its pink sheets, icy pink walls and pink knick-knacks strewn about.
I wanted to live in that safety and softness forever. Instead of making me feel stuck in childhood, I felt strong, like I was living in a jewel.
So, I hid my love of pink. But, in kid’s shows, some of my fave badass characters wore pink: as did musicians, comic book characters, and TV stars.
One of the things I had always wanted to do was have light pink hair. Finally, I went for it. As soon as I saw my cotton candy pink hair, I felt unstoppable, like a superhero. No more hiding my love for “girly” colors, and no more seeing “girly” as a bad thing, for that matter. With my pink hair, I felt more me. I felt badass and undefeated, doing me and living my truth. No regrets.
Dare to stand out, even if it’s just a little thing like sporting cotton candy pink hair.
Author: Tianna Morison
Author Bio: Tianna is a writer, mom and tree-hugger based in Calgary, AB, Canada. Her pride is her blog, “A Babbling Panda.” “A Babbling Panda” focuses on gluten-free and gut-friendly food, raising highly-sensitive kids and sustainable living. Although she hasn’t traveled abroad much since Japan, she still has a bucket list of places to go.