Pink Isn’t My Color

Meow, baby!

Okay, so I do wear pink when I run sometimes. And just to be clear, I don’t hate it. Like every color of the rainbow it has its place in the world. Beautiful roses are pink. My mom’s lipstick is pink. But the only pink I wear for running tends to be my fabulous Betsey Johnson sunglasses that have pink leopard print on the sides.

In fact, I liked those sunglasses so much that when I saw them in green a week later I snapped them up and now wear those far more often. See, pink leopard print is just funny to me. It’s over-the-top, which is more my style than any color of the rainbow. Green, on the other hand, is the color I like to wear the best. As a redhead it contrasts nicely with my hair, and it compliments my skin tone really well.  And wearing green instead of pink feels less like I’m buying into an ideal of femininity that doesn’t suit me.

No matter why we lady runners wear the colors we love, one thing remains true about pink: it’s constantly pushed on us. And I’m sick of it.

Is THIS what you expect me to be? img via Victoria’s Secret

My issue isn’t with the color pink exactly, it’s more with manufacturers and marketers of running products who still think they don’t need to design stuff for women when they can just, as the antiquated marketing adage goes, “shrink it and pink it.” I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like they’re being awfully lazy. It’s what got me all up in arms about Bia Sport’s struggle funding their GPS sportwatch. Frankly, I find it insulting that someone thinks I’ll buy something that wasn’t designed for women, isn’t any better for women and doesn’t make a woman’s life any better easier or happier just because it’s pink.

I don’t know why it should have surprised me to see Bia’s unfortunate circumstance, I see this jive all the time. In fact one of my all-time favorite running products, BodyGlide, repackaged their anti-chafe stick in pink even though it’s the same as the grey one:

Exhibit A. Note the sameness.

And check out this blogger who asked BodyGlide if there is any difference in the products besides the package. Their response?  Nope. Not at all.

We were asked (by women) to create a package that is more approachable, to introduce more women to the benefits of a product that they, too, may have otherwise perceived as for the professionals.

What women? Which ones? Where did they find these women? Did they ask athletes? The only difference in the label design is the color, and since when does a color denote approachability?  I’m a synesthete and I can’t make that association!  Perhaps there are men who also feel the product is unapproachable?  Perhaps–and I’m going out on a limb here–it’s just bad packaging for everyone.

Exhibit B – Note how I have used magical powers of PhotoShop to superimpose regular BodyGlide over BodyGlide For Her and it looks the same.

I love BodyGlide and will always use it, but I absolutely will not ever buy the pink one, because I find it insulting to my intelligence.  But there are a lot of women who don’t automatically get suspicious of pink like I do, and these women question whether or not a product is better because it says “for women” or “for her.” And they buy this stuff!

Why must it all be pink!? Are we so brainwashed by the color of our childhood nurseries and baby clothes that we can’t just buy things in red or orange or lime green? I’m all for enjoying something in a cute color I like but personally I reject the notion that this is the kind of athlete I should be:

They’re the Cleveland BROWNS, not the Cleveland Pinks! img via

What’s heartening is that a lot of women feel the same way I do, and that’s why that UnderArmour ad and the line of pink bras and shorts it sold failed pretty miserably. So did the NFL’s line of pink jerseys with fakey logos. So, famously, did Della, the website Dell created to help us all find recipes and meditate.

Neither are these running shorts, nor should they ever be worn in public for anything other than playing basketball. img via Amazon

As consumers of athletic gear we women are firm in demanding products that perform and perform right. I’m frankly pissed that the Garmin 405 I bought crapped out on me the moment I was caught in a downpour during a 13 mile run, and now I’m backing Bia, because I know it’s better. Another runner was pissed that she couldn’t find a decent bra that both supports her boobs fully and looked like a garment she could wear in public, so Moving Comfort made it their mission to create the best sports bras ever. Yet another was sick and tired of shorts that poofed or swished or were made out of that gross polyester basketball-uniform webbing stuff…of any length…so Oiselle created the Roga and a whole line of running clothes with better fabrics, better design…and better colors.

If Michael Jordan can Sweat Orange why can’t I? img via Gatorade

But if we’re creating our own companies and dominating the sport of running why is the pink gimmick still working on us, a la BodyGlide?  Why do the Race for the Cure, Girls on the Run, Women’s Running Magazine logos have to be pink?  Why is Sweat Pink a thing?  Nothing against Fit Approach or any of the people who are into this sweat pink thing but I don’t understand why I can’t Sweat Orange, since orange is the color with which I associate the most.  Shouldn’t we be offering each other more choices instead of pigeonholing each other into this Barbie doll idea of what it means to be a woman? Let’s get on Twitter and #SweatTheRainbow!

It’s okay to wear pink. It’s okay to like pink. I like pink. But I’ll be damned if I allow marketing to minimize my athleticism by making it some kind of sparkly pink monster. So I’ll wear every color of the rainbow while I run…except pink. And I’ll look like a woman doing it.

Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. By day she's a camera assistant for films and tv in New York, and by night she's on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is a mix of satirical humor, finding wholeness as an average runner, cheering for runners at all paces and more.

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  1. Sadly, this extends to more than just athletics. I wanna know who started it! Like when women get pregnant and if they find out the sex all the cards, wrapping paper, designs, gifts, cake, the room have to be blue for a boy or pink for a girl. Those who go way overboard with it make me shiver. What happens if the baby girl who is decked out in jewels and feather boas wants to be a tomboy? Will she be too scared to rebel against mommy dearest? I hope not. Point is, it starts at a young age. I think the anti-pink movement can be started pre-birth. Whether or not you know the sex, use gender neutral colors, toys, etc. I know there’s a small movement for this approach but it’s not big enough!

    1. I’m on board! My son’s room is yellow and my daughter’s is blue. Take that gender stereotypes! I always loved dressing up and being girly in that way, but I was always very competitive and athletic and played with boys all the time. I hated dolls and barbies, but loved my stuffed animals. I was lucky to have had a Grandfather who was very encouraging of all his granddaughters and my dad has 4 sisters who all were pretty athletic and what-not growing up. I had great role-models, but at times I did feel a little weird for not being and foofy as some of the other girls in school.

      Anyway, I HATE this notion that to do something in “manly” like participating in athletics that we have to overfeminize it to make it acceptable for us–where skirts and pink, etc. I think one can wear skirts and dress up in sparkles because she wants to, but the notion that we have to in order for it to be acceptable to participate in athletics is ridiculous.

      1. Same here! Thankfully my family was open to girls playing baseball with the boys. And so glad to hear you are on the gender neutral movement with your own kids. But I wouldn’t have expected otherwise 😉

    2. Ginger, here’s a really interesting article I read on just that!

      I really have so much to say on this topic, but my number one pet peeve is sports jerseys all “girly-fied”. I want to wear team colors (in my case blue and white), not some pink and purple mutant that’s all shrunken and covered in rhinestones. I think it sends an awful message to young fans and really, to everyone, that women can’t love sports unless it’s in some ultra-feminine way.

  2. Before McCain chose a #2 in 2008, there was plenty of chatter about picking a female running mate or, as I like to call it, pulling out the “pink jersey.” When they called Sarah Palin’s name, I fully understood what the GOP machine thought of women. Forget about substance: it’s a girl!

    The offensiveness of “pink” has less to do with colors or gender assignments. It’s the assumption that all women need is a color-coded signifier to guide our decisions. That we’re so juvenile and rosy-eyed that all we need to see is pink to buy-in. What, you don’t like football? Try on this *pink* jersey. How about now, little girl?

    Marketers and politicos don’t think to modify or improve a product to appeal to women. They just dip it in yogurt and cover it in pink-chocolate buttons. Voila! It’s not to say pink isn’t flattering, that I don’t wear it, and that the feminization of some products isn’t to my advantage as a female athlete. But don’t *pink* a product to sell me on the idea, to convince that I can watch football or play basketball. We can make those decisions on our own.

    1. Gina, you made my point better than I did! It’s exactly the problem I have with pink. I’d wear more of it if I wasn’t so vehement about what advertising and marketing has done to it!

  3. I heart this post. I am not anti-pink, but I am absolutely anti-patronizing. And I feel PATRONIZED by things that suggest I’m somehow “softer.” When I’m running at my best I’m muddy, bloody and smelly. I resent it when a man says to me “you don’t sweat, you glisten.” Listen up, buddy: I sweat and my sweat stinks. Badly. And no amount of coconut deodorant is going to fix that.

    Personally, I feel strongest and fiercest when I’m running in black.

  4. I happen to LOVE pink, but I hear what you’re saying about the stereotype. It is *pretty* infuriating. Huffington Post has a great article “How to Talk to Little Girls” that really impacted me. It addresses the donning of stereotypes of itty-bitty-cuteness at a young age. It has really made me think about how to chat with kids.

    If you don’t have time to read the article, it basically says to talk to young girls about more than just clothes, hair and makeup. Try conversation starters like books, favorite subject in school, or sports/games.

  5. Hahahaha oh man I hadn’t seen that pink-packaged Body Glide… thank God because it is terrifying!! Personally, my hangup with buying Body Glide for the first time wasn’t “oh it looks to manly” or “oh that’s only for professionals”… it was more like “welp, guess I’m going public with the fact that my thigh chub rubs together painfully when I run” 🙂

  6. Hmmm, I don’t really agree with the outrage in this post and here’s why: I think you are reading too much into something that isn’t there. Personally, I don’t think slapping a pink top on Body Glide means that BG thinks women are dumb or soft or less worthy. I think it is a marketing ploy and that is it. Women often do like pink. Maybe as Rachel indicated, it makes it look more mainstream. That’s it. For gear and clothes, I think we have a ton of awesome high quality options. I also think it signals a shift that retailers are getting the clue that women are a huge % of the runners out there. Bring it on in pink (and all the other awesome florescent colors) that women like.

    1. This why I love this site! We all bring a different perspective to the table and aren’t afraid to disagree with each other. It’s awesome! Thanks for adding the other side. I’m definitely more on the Cinnamon end of this spectrum, but I can see where you’re coming from. What irks isn’t the pink per se, but the notion that marketers design things for men and then paint it pink and that’s what we get. That’s what bugs me about the Bia thing. My Garmin irritates my wrist bone even on short runs and it blows up like a balloon. I have to wrap my wrist in a bandana or a wrist band and put the Garmin on over it to protect it. That’s because it was designed for male customers. Finally some women come along to design a product with women’s bodies and needs in mind that has only so far been designed for men and investors more or less laughed in their face and I don’t think that was because there’s no market for the product. Clearly there is based on the support BIa has received so far.

  7. Um, I realize this post is three years old, but I just found it and all I can say is THANK YOU!!

    Oh, and you neglected to mention that the pink Body Glide costs 60% more per ounce. They sell it in a different size and, I guess, assume that our little pink lady brains can’t do the math to figure it out. Or maybe the pink ink for the label is just really expensive. Grrrr.