Kitchenware company Le Creuset has announced its new range of kitchenwear in millennial pink to much fanfare. As a 29-year-old professional with a love for throwing dinner parties that I can’t afford in my five-bedroom London house share, I assume I am the target market.
Thing is the notion of millennial pink baking pots just irritates me. The colour seems so – well – babyish. Its shade is a cross between one of those plastic My Little Pony’s and strawberry bubblegum. And it’s just one of many infantilising female fads gripping our popular culture, from unicorn notebooks to the Snapchat flower crown filter.
“Millennial pink is marketable because it taps into this subconscious teenagerish attitude among young women that their lives are yet to properly start,” I ranted to my friend Sarah over coffee this week.
“Uuuh. Shelley,” she replied tentatively. “It’s not like you never wear pink.”
I didn’t have an answer. I decided to delve into my own wardrobe as soon as I got home. Turns out she’s right. I own a lot of pink.
In fact one of my most prized possessions – my pair of ballet pointe shoes – is of the colour pink, though I’ve never given it any thought. And from dusky-hued blouses to floaty chiffon vintage numbers, my wardrobe is stuffed with soft, pastel shades of rose.
I looked through my photos too. It seems I wear pink dresses quite often for special occasions, though I’d never really clocked.
A creeping dread came over me. Despite all of my ‘powerful woman’ bravado, have I for years been the unwitting member of the millennial pink brigade?
And, if so, why?
After some soul searching, I’ve come up to the conclusion that I equate pinkness with prettyness. I reckon it goes back to when I was obsessed with Barbie at the age of six – and it’s stuck. I also think that pink gives me a sense of pleasure that’s unique. Because it’s so overtly girlish, a sort of calming feminine certainty washes over me when I pick out a pink item to wear. For such a prissy colour, pale pink is surprisingly self-assured in its identity.
So what’s the big deal then if it makes you feel good, you may ask. Here’s the thing. Millennial pink is nice. I like it. I’d even say it suits my dark skin colour. But it’s not the kind of shade I want to define me or my generation. There’s a real vacuous nothingness to millennial pink. For me, the candyfloss colour – conveniently compatible with cloudy Instagram filters – embodies the floating lack of direction that characterises the modern woman’s life.
There is also something retrograde and futureless about millennial pink. It smacks of childhood; of seeing life through the prism of the past. I think the colour is a cultural reflection of the fact that in an era of unaffordable housing, unstable jobs, dog-eat-dog dating apps, fake news and politicians without a vision of what the world should be, young women like me do not know how to look forward. So we look back.
Not that pale pink was always so ditsy and immature. As recently as the Twenties, it was a masculine colour – the diluted cousin of strong, manly red. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, the protagonist Jay shows up to a restaurant with his mistress and her husband dressed in a pink suit.
But the colour became a symbol of female childhood and girlish feminism when American retailers started marketing pink for baby girls in the Fifties. As our grandmothers and mothers grew into women, they spurned it in favour of hot and shocking pink. Millennials have re-embraced their pastel predecessor, but in my view are failing to redefine it as a power colour.
It’s even more depressing when you consider the colours that have defined women in previous generations according to Pantone , from sultry ribbon red in the Eighties to earthy, eco avocado in the Seventies.
I have decided to ditch millennial pink in protest. Instead I’m going to seek out the pleasures of bolder, more ambitious colours. I’m going through a phase of bright, mismatched colours at the moment.
I’ll let you know how I get on. In the mean time, Le Creuset will have to flog their millennial pink pot elsewhere.