John Lyttle - Life and Style - The Independent

John Lyttle

This is no pigment of the imagination. The other half are plainly - and playfully - thinking pink again. So: what are we going to do about it?

One hates to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the evidence is clear. The breeders want pink - our colour! - back. Read it and sleep: Baby Spice in her mocking baby dolls; Boots No 7's current parody campaign ("Pink girls flirt with everyone, pay attention to no one - pink girls get what they want"). Pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness. Pink all over the cover of Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size. Even Aerosmith - Aerosmith! - have got into the act, singing the praises of pink on their latest waxing. That's pink as in "Surrender the pink", a punning reference to ... Well, never mind.

I could go on, but does any person of taste really want to be reminded of last year's summer collections, or the colour scheme of Julie Burchill's Brighton pad?

I find myself agreeing with Derek Bentley. Let 'em have it. Now, now. Please. Tossing your sex toys at me does nothing except add to my collection. I'm also aware that no hue is afforded permanent stability of meaning. Why, according to Cassell's Queer Companion, before the First World War pink was even considered a shade masculine. Being a variation on red (valour, courage), pink was linked with boys, not Boyz: with blood and the spilling of blood. Back then, blue was feminine, and our sort, like Disney's Pocahontas, painted with all the colours of the wind. Or at least three: green, violet, lavender. Suits you, sir, but not, definitely not, for public consumption.

Times change. Indeed they do. Pink was Shocking. Pink was Hot. Pink was perky and pervy. But now, after 30 years of that crazy little thing called Out, shouldn't we pause and ask: is a pastel that plays best on suckling pigs really the right shade for a mature political movement?

Sure, pink used to be provocative. Smart idea, inverting the symbol of our supposed deviancy and making it our own: the pink triangle Insignificant Others were forced to wear in the concentration camps (Oh, those waggish Nazis! They knew it clashed with everything!) Anyhow, you understand: from Triumph of the Will to Triumph of the Willie.

Times change. Hang on to pink, and it's horribly possible to end up the spiritual counterpart of Barbara Cartland.

Pink, after all, is also being eroded from "within". Red, red ribbons and rainbow flags certainly suggest a wish to broaden a restricted palette. Honestly. Here we are, the mavens of mix 'n' match, and we're stuck with any colour as long as it's you-know-what. Pink pounds, pink politics, pink taxis, pink paperbacks. Pink accountants. Pink lawyers. The pink (showbiz) squares in Trivial Pursuit. From the concentration camps to questions about Schindler's List. There's even, for heaven's sake, a Pink Paper.

Times change. Face the future. (Orange - good news for Judith Chalmers.) At this stage we'd be better off with Khmer Rouge. There's no threat, no juice, no joy left in pink. Besides, I look vile in it. Apart from bridesmaids and Barbie, everyone does. Bat your lashes at any Gay Pride march for confirmation and consider the virtues of rebranding. It worked for Pepsi, it can work for us. We're no longer content to settle for the perception of being second best. The millennium approaches and ...

It's time to give pink back to blancmange, your incontinent Granny's matinee jacket, babies' squeezable little cheeks (both sets).

Pink is done. How can one tell? Because heterosexuals' parodies and satires are so much more pointed, so much more amusing than ours. So, can we just, like, get over it, and muse upon being all white on the night, or being in the navy, or going through the rainbow rather than over it? There may be no cure for this colour-blindness, but couldn't we at least admit that it's sometimes best to be out of the pink, rather than in?

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