The colour pink and I have shared the most intense love-hate relationship over the course of my life. As kids, we were told that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, and I didn't mind that statement then, like I do now.
Like most girls, I loved pink. Everything around me had to be pink – my room, my clothes, my Barbie's clothes (I was a Barbie freak, so that's a lot of pink). At the same time, I was also the girl in class who would lift four chairs at once, just to make a point, whenever a boy was asked to fetch chairs.
Both these aspects of my personality had been coexisting in harmony. Up until that point, I never associated pink with weakness or a lack of substance. Why would I? It was just a colour after all. That would soon change.
I cannot put a finger on exactly when my perception of femininity had shifted. It could be Regina George from Mean Girls, the cunning and manipulative high school bully, Jackie from That '70s Show, the self-absorbed, superficial, and snobby girlfriend or even Robin Scherbatsky from How I Met Your Mother, the aspirational and independent tomboy, that had triggered this shift. At school and on TV, there was no getting away from the constant reminder that pink was "too girly" and "too girly" was either petty or weak.
So began my efforts to reject and denounce my femininity in every possible way. If being a tomboy meant I would be taken seriously, I was ready to give up pink. At that point, I wish I had reminded myself the story of my favourite childhood character, Barbie. Her doll landed on the moon four years before Neil Armstrong did, she's a living (okay, non-living) example of how smart ultra-feminine women can truly be.
I am sure every aspect of my life was affected by this newfound outlook. So deep was its reverberation, that I had entered my teenage years without ever experimenting with makeup, my wardrobe was largely laddish clothes with little colour. I had turned into the so-called "alpha female" of my circle who was loud, "bossy", opinionated, yet demonised. I was yet to realise that there really is no escape from fighting society's idea of what a woman is, should, or shouldn't be. Neither had I realised the internal misogyny behind these stereotypes.
With slightly more wisdom, I often look back and wonder how different my style, taste and behaviour may have been today, if I had not forced every ounce of "girliness" out of me. For a very long time, I was so focused on being society's definition of strong and independent, while actively trying to not fit into the same society's interpretation of femininity, I forgot how terribly wrong societal expectations often are. I don't know who decides what is feminine and what is masculine, but what I do know now is that as long as pink is feminine, pink is strong and intelligent.
Raisa avoids all her obligations to spend time laughing at badly edited memes on Pinterest. Send her your favourite songs at firstname.lastname@example.org