The Graying of America? Think Pink!


My mother had prepared me: “Your father and I redecorated your room.” My first thought was that they’d torn down my Robert Plant posters and painted over the tape marks. “It’s different,” Mom continued. Maybe, I thought, they turned my bedroom into a den. Yay! I’ll finally have a TV to myself! But then she said, “It’s the kind of room I always wanted for you.” While more than one four-letter word sparked across my synapses, the one that burned brightest was this one: PINK.

I was returning to my parents’ North Jersey home after four years of college (okay, five; please don’t judge) so that I could commute to an enviable New York City job after having broken an engagement, in great part because of this job. This is all to say I was a grown-up unpacking her suitcases surrounded by four pink pin-striped-papered walls. And if that wasn’t enough, Mom had bought pink lampshades, so that when I turned on the light, the air was pink too.

As a child, I loved my dolls. I loved my dresses. However, I don’t remember ever having loved the color pink, except when I pressed the syrup out of frozen strawberries into cereal milk, which I still do. But Mom continued to bring home pink things for me to wear. Even my training bra. Most times I turned up my nose and she ended up returning the item. However, I did lose the battle of the pink-and-white dress with a strawberry-appliqued bodice she bought me to wear to my grandfather’s 60th birthday party. That I remember this with such clarity obviously means this was quite traumatic. By the time I started selecting my own clothes, I chose jeans, tees, and boots, not one of which was pink. Because by now, coming of age during the Women’s Movement, I eschewed anything that smacked of girlishness.

Anyway, six months after returning home, I moved into my first apartment, leaving Pink World in the dust of my packed-to-the-gills Toyota Celica ST. And except for a very brief stint as a Mary Kay Independent Consultant, winning lots of pink bracelets and baubles (but not the CAR), I continued my abhorrence of anything pink. When it came to my “color season,” I was an “autumn,” looking better in deep green, brown, and amber.

But then something started happening….

Around the time my (yay!) bigger breasts took a turn south and my hips east and west—the combination of which I like to call “voluptuous”—my skin began to pale and blush (which sounds better than “turn ruddy”). Twenty-plus years of trying to keep up with a haircolor to match my changing complexion was growing wearisome. And I read in a women’s magazine that after a certain age, it is best to return to the haircolor we had when we were 5 (really?); lighten it, which I tried, but I swim regularly and my hair turned green; or because Mother Nature knows best, let it go. Which I did. Gentlemen, this goes for you too. Think Richard Gere vs. Wayne Newton. Need I say more?

Most everyone loves my salt-n-pepper hair, except for my former best friend who calls the color “ash tray,” and with the embracing of my new season, “winter,” I find that my new color palette includes…pink, as is likely the case for all of us who are in the same “life” boat. Even you men out there. If pink isn’t peachy with you, get this: When I looked online at all the different shades, hues, and tints that might look better on me, I found that once upon a time, those baby colors were reversed! According to Wikipedia, New York City department stores in the first quarter of the 20th century found that consumers favored pink for boys and blue for girls. What’s more, it seems British high-society fellas wore pink as a symbol of financial success. Did you catch “The Great Gatsby” scene in which Leornardo DiCaprio sports a pink summer suit on that fateful, final trip into NYC? (Yes, this was in the book.) He sure was dashing. Just sayin’. So I’m a-thinkin’ that it might have been as women continued their fight for equality, they pilfered pink and made it theirs. And right here right now, I am declaring the color mine as well. I swing open my closet door to see my once dark-forest-of-a-wardrobe is an explosion of icy pink, rose pink…hot pink!

At the age of 54 and ¾, I am now all-around pretty in pink. I am sending this article to my mother.


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