Dissolving the Spectrum

With this piece, I wanted to convey gender stereotyping through a subtle yet compelling story. It was important for me to tell a universally relatable story, so I started by reminiscing about childhood—this is realistic fiction.

She has always been pink. I have never given her the chance she deserved. Even when I denied her the right to be pink, she was still pink. Just like how I am pink and choose to be pink, she was blue and chose to be pink. I am sorry.

Pink. That was the color I chose every time. Light-up sneakers, Tamagotchis, fluffy dresses, nail lacquer polishes, scrunchies. It was my color, I was cute in pink.

I fell in love with it the first time my mother bought me cotton candy. Going to the Asian supermarket, crying and stomping my feet: That was my ritual. That day, one hand held on to a bag of seaweed and the other clutched this strange bag with English letters. I had to choose one. “Money doesn’t fall from trees,” she would say, as if I didn’t understand that from all the previous times. I was puzzled by the peculiar plastic bag and consumed by curiosity. The bag of seaweed seemed like a promise of crispy goodness, but at that moment I was infatuated with the pink bag.

I ripped open the plastic bag, and a mixture of baby-blue and pink clouds melted in my mouth. My hands quickly became sticky, my tongue obsessed with the sugary foreignness. It was like a game of tag where pink was my sanctuary, and touching blue was dangerous.

Blue. He is blue. Actually, he is supposed to be blue. Yet he was wearing a pink shirt. He messed up the pattern I created in my head. Why was he wearing a color that wasn’t meant for him? Boy and girl, blue and pink—we were supposed to separate into two different ends of the spectrum.

The next day at recess I saw him holding a Barbie doll. It was the one my mother refused to buy me. I was mad. He is blue, this is not fair. My face reddened and before I knew it, pink took the initiative to snatch the doll away from him. His childish smile metamorphosed into something tigerish, and soon he was blue, exactly how it was meant to be. I was proud of myself, I changed him back.

But sitting in class with him the following week, I saw that he had on pink nail polish. So did I, and there it was—this connection between us. I touched his hand, slowly moving toward the baby-pink-tinted nails. I could taste the cotton candy in my mouth. He placed his other hand on mine, pointing at my pink-colored nails. Could he be pink, even if he is blue?

The older we grew, the more he was pink than blue. We used our eyelids like blank canvases, coating them with colors of the rainbow from red to purple, with orange, yellow, green, and blue in between. We felt as if we were above anything.

Leopard, polka dots, paisley, gingham, tartan. Exploring patterns in the women’s section became our favorite pastime. We adored the extravagance it brought to our outfits. We laughed at the looks our parents gave when they saw us.

It was his touch on my thick black wavy hair that gave me this feeling that I had never felt before. First, I felt warm, then electric. It came like second nature. As I ran my hands through his shiny blond curly hair, he became more gentle, docile, considerate, and nice, and I liked that he was more pink with me, but blue with others.

And then, one day: “I want to be a girl.” What? No. You are blue. You are blue. No. I am pink. You cannot be pink. No. You can act pink, but you will never truly be pink. I didn’t understand, this wasn’t right.

He wanted me to call him “she.” It was as if “she” became a brand-new person. I no longer felt the sweetness of cotton candy with “her” anymore. Nothing was the same; it was as if “she” used me to be more pink. All those times, I thought we were friends who just liked the same things. I wanted him to appreciate pinkness, not allow it to overpower him.

Pink. “She” told me “her” life as if I understood the concept of being blue but declaring myself to be pink. I told her, “You cannot choose to be pink. You are blue.” I took the pink cotton candy from her hands. She wasn’t pink, she didn’t deserve it. And then she told me, “I am just as much a female as you.” Huh? You couldn’t be pink just because you decided you’re more comfortable with an option that wasn’t selected for you. Just like how you couldn’t open a bag of cotton candy and later choose the color of it.

The day you told me that you wanted to be pink blurred my vision. I could not be in love with pink when I am pink. I wanted you to stay blue but I realize now that I fell in love with your pink.

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