I've never been a girly-girl. From the time I was small, I preferred pants to dresses. My mother would often torture me by dressing me in them anyway, of course. Sometimes she would buy patterns and make us matching mother/daughter clothes. Ugh. Torture. I didn't like Barbies either; I liked Breyer horses, and Barbie was useless because her legs would break off at the hip when you tried to force her to sit on the horse. The few Barbies that I did have ended up being one-legged and inevitably discarded on the floor of my closet.
And shoes? Hated them. When I was in first grade my mom bought me two pairs of shoes - a pair of saddle shoes for school and a pair of Keds to play in. I LOATHED those saddle shoes. I begged and pleaded to wear my tennis shoes, my pretty blue Keds with the white laces and the blue tab behind the heel. Lovely, comfortable tennis shoes. But my mother, being unreasonable and perhaps overly parental, insisted that I wear the saddle shoes to school. I was so indignant about being forced to dress like a girl that I ran away from home. For real. All the way to my friend Kirsten's house, a twenty block ride on my bicycle across a very busy four-lane main road. Over shoes!
As I grew up and got real live horses and played sports in high school, my distaste for "girly" stuff only deepened. Of course I put on a dress for Prom and all that stuff. But most of my life was lived either in shorts and high-tops or in jeans and cowboy boots. And that's always been my style. Once I grew up, I realized the value of looking like a girl (boys seem to appreciate it) and so some skirts and dresses inevitably found their way into my closet. The problem is that I always seem to gravitate toward the somber. People would ask me what my favorite color is. "Black." "Really? Just black?" "Yes. Black." All my early business suits were either black or navy blue, with a white blouse. Even now, I tend to buy clothes in solid colors. I've extended the palette to brown and sometimes even a fairly pale pink, but still. Mostly black. Mostly solid.
Then I had a daughter. A daughter who loves pink best in the whole world. Who has a room painted pink, because she wants one. And whose favorite pair of shoes is a hot pink pair of converse with clear sequins sewn on. Without fail, every choice of clothing she is offered, she gravitates toward the pink like a moth to the patio bulb. And she LOVES Barbies. For years I have watched her, head cocked to the side, eyebrows raised, wondering how this pink-shrouded pink-loving pinkity pink PINK girl came sliding out of MY womb. What I didn't notice was the effect all of this pink frilly stuff was having on me.
It started with great subtlety. One day I was getting a (rare) pedicure. I always get either "french" style toe painting or occasionally, if I'm feeling brazen, fire engine red. But one day, for no reason whatsoever (or so I thought), I walked in for my appointment and when my eyes landed on hot pink, I grabbed it. And later on I looked at my hot pink toes and I thought to myself how really pretty they looked. A year or so later, after a lavender pedicure and a mauve toe job, I picked pink again. And I realized once again how very much I liked it. I might have even loved it, a teeny little bit. And then I was shopping for clothes and I saw this bright pink tank top, and I bought it. And when I put it on? I LIKED it. Somewhere along the line, my daughter waved her magic pink fairy wand and invisible tendrils of Pink Lovewound their way into the fibers of my brain, where they seeded themselves, grew roots, and started to branch out and leaf.
On the day before Mother's Day, I was out shopping for clothes with my mom when I realized it. I looked up, looked around, and laughed. "Hey Mom. You know what? You know what my favorite color is?"
She looked at me the way you look at your dog when it suddenly starts walking into the wall over and over again for no apparent reason.
"Pink, Mom. My favorite color is PINK. Can you believe it? Me? Pink!" And then I let her buy me a new dress.
Don't laugh. It happened to me. It can happen to you.
You will be assimilated.