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Senior Correspondent

For about 50 years I've been decrying the increasing use of the color pink to identify baby girls, cute toddling girls, and princessey roomed and gowned pre-teen girls. Toy stores have aisle upon aisle of Barbie dolls and accessories (including Ken dolls) and pink cosmetic kits and girly toys. What kind of women are these prissy, cute dolls of extravagant femininity going to become? What cultural fear is being expressed here?

Don't we want girls to achieve their highest aspirations, to be as tough and as intelligent and as award-winning as male counterparts? Or more so? Haven’t the sexual revolution and the freedom from the fear of unwanted pregnancy opened doors into new worlds for women? Aren't the models of success becoming more feminized in the business, athletic and intellectual worlds? Aren't women gaining ground in religious and political leadership? Why so much pink?

The other day I sat along a boardwalk at the beach for a couple of hours as the parade of people in scanty outfits meandered past. Every single pre-school girl was wearing pink, dozens of them. What made this happen so that no boy is allowed to wear that color? There are rainbows of color in clothing available. Why so much pink for girls? Why such huge store sections full of cosmetics? Why is clothing for teen and adult women so skin-tight and revealing?

What is making our society insist that girls be so feminine — wear such sexually revealing clothes with cleavage so deep and panty leg so high that little is left to the imagination? These outfits and curled eyelashes and shaved legs and pouty expressions do attract the attention of boys and men to them. The social pressure is working. They are interested in them.

But boys and men have been interested in girls and women since the beginning of time. Why this generation so much pink? Such an emphasis on girls and women being so feminine, so obviously female? Why are their parents and themselves so afraid that a less obvious sign of one's sex is not enough any more? Men are not correspondingly becoming more aggressive and manly looking in clothing or actions. In fact, it is such a joy to see more and more of them taking a delight in carrying babies and caring for children.

I had an insight into this phenomenon recently that suddenly made me realize that pink and sexiness were essential strategies for girls and women now that they are freer to be whatever they want. We have become more assertive and strong in mind and body. And for old-fashioned men, that's scary. Even contemporary boys and men are cautious about assertive girls and women who seem to be more in control of a relationship. How can those young guys be "protective" and "manly" with these gals?

But — if the girls wear pinkish-type clothing — sexually revealing — the code is clear — they want guys to like them, maybe love them. They anticipate an open door to something exciting (clearly) or interesting. Why not? And if the guys can avoid trying to be footballishly crude but attentive to what a gal says as well as how she looks, if he can avoid staring at her boobs, he has potential with a new brand of feminity not only interested in love or marriage but also in an interesting career of some kind.

My ten-year-old niece some years ago when asked what she wanted to become responded quickly: "First I want to be a princess. Then I want to be an astronaut." And notice how ubiquitous pink has become for national social causes: the pink ribbons for breast cancer research (with pink bats and baseball gloves on ball fields) and the antiwar organization named Code Pink

So — now I say Pink is Powerful. I like what UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and movie star Audrey Hepburn has also said:

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."

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