WON Landing Page March 2022

To Pink or Not to Pink: The Controversy of ‘Pop O’ Pink’

When my daughter was born 12 years ago, I made a conscious effort to clothe her in blues and browns and greens. I wanted to avoid the clichéd pink. She was my little baby girl, but I didn’t want to paint her into a box. Sure, she wore some cute flowery dresses and onesies made for girls, but my favorite outfits on her were the neutral, more nature-based tones.

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“Out and About” is sponsored by The Original Muck Boot Company.

This was a thoughtful choice I made for my daughter. (And honestly, more for me.) But I wanted to keep all options open. I wanted my daughter to grow up knowing that camping and hiking and playing in the dirt were just as much “girl things” as playing with Barbie dolls. Today, I see a strong, smart young lady who sometimes likes to wear pink but who also chooses blue leggings and a running shirt. I see a young lady who still has a Barbie house but also aspires to be an aeronautical engineer.

My point is this: Keep the options open and let ladies decide for themselves. Let’s withhold judgment and just accept what women choose to do with their lives and what they choose to wear.

When it comes to spending time outdoors, my main concern is comfort. If I am not comfortable doing what I’m doing, I am not a happy camper. I want clothes and gear that are functional. I ask myself these questions: “Does it fit? Does it restrict my movements? Does it hold what I need it to hold? Does it shoot straight? Is it too heavy? Do I feel good?” The first few questions have more to do with function.

The last question deals with form. And that’s where a little thing called the ‘pop o’ pink’ pops up.

What is the “pop o’ pink?” It’s the little bit (or a lot) of pink that manufacturers design into hunting clothing and gear to draw women into the outdoors. You see it in boots, you see it in camo, you see it in the stitching on hunting backpacks, and in highlights on rifles and shotguns and bows. You can get your bowstring in hot pink. You can buy a release in hot pink. (Try finding a woman’s size release without some pink in it. I dare you.)

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Some of us don’t need this kind of encouragement. We grew up playing in the woods, catching tadpoles, getting dirty. We are hard-core hikers, hunters, climbers and kayakers. We know we can harvest a deer while wearing cargo pants and an old T-shirt just as effectively as we can while wearing high-end, made-for-women gear trimmed out in pink. We know that hunters a generation or two before us put little thought into what they wore to hunt beyond comfort and utility. We imagine our grandfathers standing in front of their closets thinking, “Hmm. Should I wear this camo pattern or that one?” And we laugh. We are just like them.

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Some of us like getting tricked out with the latest and greatest products. We look for clothing companies that employ the newest technology and ones that produce quality hunting and hiking clothes. If we find this type of quality in a women’s line—one that is made for women, by women—so much the better. We know that the addition of pink in our field-tested and research-based gear makes no difference in how warm it keeps us or how accurate it makes our shots.

Some ladies just like pink. We are girly girls. We get our nails done and apply makeup at 4:30 in the morning before heading out to the stand. We wear dresses and heels and ogle the latest trends in handbags. But we also like to hunt.

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Last month, I attended a planning session for Girl Scout leaders. The keynote speaker was a well-dressed woman wearing heels, jewelry, makeup and a pretty dress. She introduced herself as a woman, a wife, a mother, a lover of shoes and a nerd. She is a professor at a local university and holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. She works in a lab. She also doesn’t fit into that square little box labeled “nerdy engineer.” She doesn’t feel she has to. She feels she can be a girly-girl in a predominantly male field. That works for her, because that is who she is. Some of us are girly-girls. We wear makeup when we hunt. We are women and we hunt. We are proud of this. And we want to wear our pride. And that’s OK!

Then there is a final group of women. These are the women who are not hunters … yet. We are curious. We see our fathers, boyfriends, husbands and sons go off hunting. We are not sure how we fit in with the good ol’ boys swapping stories in deer camp. We are testing the waters. We head to the ladies section in the outdoor stores. First, we feel we are supporting the hunting men in our lives by wearing the latest pink camo patterns. Then, we start to imagine what it would be like to go hunting. We think we would like the chance. For us, a little bit of pink—or a lot—means something. It means we are welcome to come along.

So here are the various camps: women who don’t want to wear pink on principle; women who don’t care one way or the other, who just want functional gear; women who wear pink to make a statement; and women who are drawn into the outdoor sports because the pop of pink seems like an invitation.

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Regardless of your choice, as ladies in the outdoors we ought to stand side by side. We ought to support anyone who wants to become involved in outdoor sports. We ought to welcome any woman who wants to join us in our activities because we know that spending time outdoors is good for mind and body. None of us are one-dimensional. The inclusion of—or exclusion of—one color does not define who we are.

Let’s encourage all women, of all colors, wearing any color, to join us in our pursuit of the outdoor life.

And me? I am a mixture of all of the above. I love my Women’s Wetland boots by Muck Boot Company. They are brown. Other women may prefer the increasingly popular pink camo, like the Muddy Girl pattern on the Women’s Hunting Hale and the Arctic Sport II Mid. I kind of like my pink bowstring, but I am also super-comfortable in my all-camo jacket. It matches the terrain I hunt in, and it feels like it was tailor-fitted to me. I love my Army surplus pants. They have great pockets and are too roomy, and I don’t care. And my backpack has pink tabs and trim on it, just because that’s what was available.

Where to you stand on the “pop o’ pink” controversy?

The Conversation

4 Comments
  • CAMMI Balleck says: November 7, 2016 at 10:34 am

    I have created a sportswoman skincare line designed just for outdoor women, after much thought and many women’s input- I decided to use pink and black labels. I have a lotion that keeps you warm and many men have bought it for elk, bear and moose hunts. I dont think color matters i think “function over looks” always. I wear clothing that’s warm, i don’t care what color it is. I have thought of rebranding with a different color, but it does attract women to it.

    • Marjorie Paulson says: November 7, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      I think that’s the catcher. Pink does attract some women, it doesn’t bother others, and those who don’t like pink won’t run from the outdoors just because of the pink. Overall, it attracts more women and that’s a good thing! Way to go with your product!!

  • Kat Haas says: November 2, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I usually will avoid purchasing hunting gear that has pink on it. I LOVE my turkey vest, it is comfortable and all the stitching is bright blue. I only got stuck with pink on my hunting pants because I needed them that evening and I was desperate.

    • Marjorie Paulson says: November 3, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks for your response! It’s great to hear from readers. The most important things – for me – are safety and comfort. Funny about being desperate. I once had to purchase a pair of camo pants that were HUGE; it was all I could find and I was desperate. I still have them, you never know!