By Soraya Keiser
“Outfield, back up!”
All the validation I needed.
Standing just a few feet behind the painted-on home plate of the kickball diamond on the blacktop of St. Sebastian Catholic School, I geared up to bring my team home. Three on base. Two outs. But my team captain, a beansprout of a fourth grader, wasn’t worried.
I was sporting my red Land’s End polo, navy blue uniform pants, green Keen’s sandals and dark blue rectangular glasses with stars spangled on the side.
The pitcher rolled the kickball in a smooth line toward me. I took a running start and kicked. I think I made it to third base. All three of my teammates scored. And my team could keep on dominating the recess kickball game.
My cheeks were flushed red, my glasses slick with sweat, and I felt so affirmed in that moment.
As a kid — besides being a kickball fiend — I only wore dresses when forced to for the annual Christmas concert, my 12-year-old friend group practically shunned anyone labeled a “Directioner” and I hated pink. Absolutely despised it.
I preferred my plaid shorts. I liked listening to my dad’s U2 CDs. My favorite colors were blue and orange. I preferred playing kickball to watching from the sidelines. And I genuinely liked these things, but it was more than that.
I consciously rejected femininity in order to not be made fun of by scrawny middle school boys. I didn’t want my music to be seen as silly or a color to make me look weak. I wanted to be cool. Smart. Strong. Worthy.
And you’ve probably heard that colors are gendered and that is a bad thing and men can wear pink too and blah blah blah, which is all true because Harry Styles can wear pink better than anyone I’ve ever seen. But I never really thought of myself as being affected by colors until I grew up and realized how poorly I treated the color pink. It’s not even a bad color.
It’s the color of sunsets and bubblegum and Bryson’s guitar strap and snazzy dress shirts and tulips and my cheeks when it’s cold and pigs and my old soccer team’s jerseys and the second-best Starburst flavor and gems and my tongue and my roommate Grace’s cool shoes and cherry blossoms.
At the ripe old age of 19, I wouldn’t consider myself a “pink girl” or a “girly girl,” but I don’t avoid these labels like I used to, either. I like to put on bright red lipstick because it makes me feel feminine and powerful. I don’t play kickball or rugby anymore, but that doesn’t make me feel weak. I may or may not have just bought some butterfly clips to live out the early 2000s dream I used to shun. And I’m still the most valuable asset to your kickball team if you are looking for one. Especially if you have pink jerseys.
Sorry, pink. You didn’t deserve it.