Jacklyn Le, age 25

California – New Mexico

“Blue or Pink?”

Some imagine these colors for a baby shower. They probably see the happy pregnant woman popping a balloon to reveal the baby’s gender. Society has sectioned these colors with blue/boy= masculine and pink/girl=feminine. Apart from the commercial advertisements for baby products color gender coding is a basic guideline on what makes a girl a female and boy a male. These factors steadily change as we age. 

*Balloon pops*, its pink.

My mom lost her mom at a very young age. Thus taking on the role of daughter and mother was inevitable. Growing up with a male populated home, those expectations they had for women and men were passed on.

I remember going to this place called Movie Gallery with my brothers/ cousins to rent movies. One day I noticed a suspicious man kept itching closer and closer to us. Once I got home we receive a call from the business owner accusing us of stealing. All of us return back, the oldest at the time was my brother. He explained to the owner that we did not steal anything while the rest of us kept quiet. Although fearful, I went up to the owner and said there was a gentleman near us the entire time and to please relook at security. Time passes, the adults relook at the footage and let us go home. I hear the owner telling my brother that she was happy I spoke up and that was what ultimately what got us off the hook. Once we get home I hear the phone ringing, my brother answers and tells me mom wants to talk to me. I approach the phone cautiously because the subtle tone of anger and disappointment I hear reduces all my confidence. My mom told me that I shouldn’t have spoken up because it wasn’t a girl’s place to be involved. Girl’s shouldn’t speak up because it’s not their place. After our conversation, my brief moment of heroism turned sour.

As I reached my teenage years, I rebelled like every teenager. My parents thought it was best to work for them every weekend and summers. Sure, I’ll go learn some hard lessons and accept my punishments. But my brother’s would rebel, talk back, and not come home. Were they ever forced to work or punished? Nope. I realized that the color pink was not just a color anymore it was a role. My parents wanted me to be seen as innocent and pure. Jacklyn is dating a boy? Let’s cut her curfew. Jacklyn is talking back? Let’s make her work Holidays. While “the boys will be boys” doing what they please.

The next chapter in my life is marriage. You’re an adult, you have responsibilities, you don’t have to oblige to societal norms of being a married woman, right? I never thought so until I was told that I was a “bad wife” for not cooking for my husband, for being lazy, etc. My new role that I was expected to be was the housewife, the nurturer, the mother. No matter how old I get these roles keep escalating.

Blue? Pink? Colors that are on opposite spectrums of each other but have had societal associations before birth. Pink, a color that has categorized me as a woman. But no matter what norm, role, or what society says I have to be, pink is just a diluted red. I am a female, I have a voice, I have discipline, I am a wife, and I define myself.