Saturday, October 9, 2010

Princess Pink

When I was two or three my mother lovingly made me a pair of overalls with shorts. The fabric had little beetles on it or something equally adorable. My response upon their presentation? NO. Boys wear shorts, and I was a GIRL. I probably didn't come past her knee at the time. What an ungrateful little brat I was.

During my psychology degree there was much discussion of the gender programming we subject children to literally from birth. Pink for girls, blue for boys. Barbies versus Tonka trucks. The ways we encourage play. I had my fair share of pink and dollies, but I also had a big brother (who turned 29 yesterday! Happy birthday!) with whom I played Lego war and block war and Transformer war. We made bows and arrows out of hibiscus branches and rubber bands. It worked the other way too--one year he got a doll for Christmas, because he wanted one. He went to ballet classes.*

But I knew I was a girl, and dammit, all the playing war and little green plastic soldiers couldn't change the fact that Girls Wore Skirts and I Liked Pink. I called it (sigh) "pinky-dinky". I may have done this for a long time after it ceased to be cute.

When I was plotting my novel, originally the main character was a servant to a royal. I knew there was going to be a lot of trekking about in trousers for her and plenty of times she would be filthy and bloodied and half starved. I thought about that for a day or so and then the I Like Pink part of my brain took over: if I made her a princess I could dress her up like a Regency debutante. I don't like to count how many dresses are mentioned in the book (lots; she has more costume changes than Katniss Everdeen) but from that moment on there was an explosion of satin and lace and thorough girliness all over the book.

It's my book and I wanted the best of both worlds: Princess Pink meets Xena Warrior Princess.

Here's Princess Pink herself, in all her pink tutu-ed glory, aged nine at a dance recital.


My dad posted this to Facebook last week and I tried to be embarrassed. I really did. But the Princess Pink part of my brain went into overdrive. Unfortunately I can't get away with tutus anymore.



  1. Gold! I was a real girly-girl when I was a kid. I was obsessed with Barbies. Like, obsessed. But I also remember playing with my brother's dinosaur collection and I had horses so I had something to balance myself out.

    I never had a tutu though. I feel deprived.

  2. Why not continue to get away with it? If you like pink, you like pink!

    I was quite the opposite. I had dolls and other girly toys, but I much preferred wearing shorts and running around barefoot in the grass and climbing trees. I remember demanding that I wear shorts under the skirts and dresses my mom made me wear to school when I was very young because the boys would look under the skirts/dresses of the girls who played on the monkey bars. I then took it upon myself to beat up any boy I caught looking under a skirt or dress.

    I'm still something of a tomboy and get funny looks when I show up to work in a skirt (usually I get, "Why are YOU so dressed up?" HA!).

    Embrace your inner girly-girl and I will embrace my inner tomboy!

  3. If Patience from The Grates can wear a tutu, I'm sure you can. Maybe its more of a rock show thing than an everyday thing.

    - David E

  4. So happy you went the Princess route, I adore pink and dresses and pretty things even though I spend most of my time in jeans with baby drool on my t-shirt :)

    I always wanted a tutu when I was little but as I freaked at my first ballet show and jumped off the stage I never graduated to that. Maybe I'll just buy one now :)

  5. I had a couple of dresses that I liked, but I have always been way more comfortable in pants and sneakers. I never wanted anything pink and now that I'm in my 30s I have a lot of hot pink clothing to accent my mostly black wardrobe. ;)

    Such a cute ballerina you were, my dear.

    I am happy there will be girly thing and warrior things in the book. Sadly they may all starve to death before the end since you forgot to feed them.

  6. I loved this post! I think it's really interesting that you've incorporated the princessy side into your protagonist, because while I love kick-ass heroines, pink is my favourite colour and I think it's important for girly girls to OWN it. Especially kick-ass girly-girls.

    I had a pink tutu too. I think it may have been the best outfit I've ever owned. Which means that fashion-wise, I peaked at four.