Freedom’s Just Another Word for Wearing Chambray

You can’t get more girlish than the color pink. Why do I, a woman of a certain age, now have a pink diary?

On a recent shopping trip I couldn’t resist a notebook with a suede cover. I would have preferred any other color but pink was all they had.  And I thought it might be on sale because there was no price on it. The cashier scrolled through notebook pix on her phone. “It’s $11.95. Do you still want it?”

“Yes.”

Pink was the color of my girlhood.  My mother painted my room  pink. In elementary school, she bought me a pink dress with a cape collar to wear to birthday parties. In junior high, we were mod like Twiggy but less thin.  I had a “shocking pink” mini-dress which I wore with textured over-the-knee stockings.  In the cafetorium in study hall, a fashionable mini-skirted friend confided she was having sex with a popular girl by inserting a Yardley Slicker (a Yardley brand of lipstick) into her vagina. I was cynical: I said she would get an A in English for that story.  In retrospect she was probably inspired by the Yardley ad: “Only Slickers Do It. Make you soft, wild, whatever you want to be.”

Then in high school I rebelled against pink: freedom was just another word for wearing chambray shirts and jeans. And a lesbian teacher took me out for coffee, lent me her copy of Anne Sexton’s poems, and then seduced me by sobbing about how often she had been rejected when she said she was gay. I’d rather hoped my high school crush (a boy) would seduce me, but who was I to reject her? Not only did we “wear our love like heaven” (Donovan) but “loved the one we were with” (Stephen Stills).

I’ve written elsewhere about how boring it was. I wasn’t keen on other women’s vaginas. And then there were the women’s dances, where radical lesbian feminists wore men’s suits and danced only to women’s music. Perhaps they were parodying  butch-femme roles, but it was a drab scene, even with the Supremes.  In retrospect I’m impressed with their intellect:  they were writing about feminist politics, founding various women’s centers, and experimenting with being gay.  Some went back to heterosexuality (like me), some really were gay.

By the time I was in college, I was happily heterosexual again and had a boyfriend (and then two husbands). Sometimes I wore pink t-shirts with Lee jeans, pink Oxford shirts with jean skirts, and a pink jacket.

I only have one pink shirt at the moment. And my husband will not allow me to paint any of our rooms pink.  Fortunately there are hundreds of colors at the paint store.

And now I have a pink diary!

13 thoughts on “Freedom’s Just Another Word for Wearing Chambray

  1. Interesting! I don’t remember pink as being a colour of interest in late 1960s/early 1970s New Zealand. OK, it was around, as were lots of other colours (burnt orange!!), but I think black (especially leather) was considered the ultimate. Or black and white. I think we were influenced by Mrs Peel (Diana Rigg) in ‘The Avengers’.

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    • Oh, Mrs. Peel! I loved her. Well, I don’t think pink was exactly the fashion, but it was the classic “girl” color. Pink blankets from birth! I wish I could remember what Julie Christie wore. She was my idol.

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  2. That Yardley ad takes me back to the days when Seventeen Magazine was huge, slick, and glossy. The ‘back-to-campus” September issue used to be so thick you could hurt a person with it! Somehow smaller magazines have no charm. I remember sneak reading decent fiction in my aunt’s McCalls and Ladies Home Journals. And trying to figure out what those elegantly ball-dressed ladies were code-talking about in the the Modess ads. (“Becaise”) Because of what? The answer was not at all glamorous or sophisticated! Try looking for the Avengers on youtube. I have never revisited it and would love to know if it stood the test of time or is now to us impossibly campy. I hope not.

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  3. Oh, I had forgotten about Seventeen magazine! My personal favorite was Tiger Beat, a gossip mag about rock stars. McCall’s and Good Housekeeping were really very good. I THINK Good Housekeeping is still around, or at any rate it lasted longer than the other women’s mags. And what a good idea to watch The Avengers on YouTube. At least they’ll have a trailer!

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