I was taught growing up men did not wear pink.
It wasn’t so much a spoken commandment as it was an implied one. It was lumped together with a list of other ‘forbidden’ things such as bracelets, necklaces, and earrings which ‘threatened one’s masculinity.’
I remember a teacher once saying “…If I ever see my son wearing a bracelet, I will rip it off and hand him a football.”
As a boy growing up who wasn’t effeminate, but who also wasn’t the most masculine guy in the class, it was comments like these that made me feel inadequate.
I played soccer for two years because I was scared if I didn’t play high school sports I would be looked at as less of a man. I hated every second of every game, and eventually, I decided two years was enough.
I was worried my mom and dad would be disappointed, but as the always encouraging parents they are, they said, “…of course you don’t have to play, just so long as you won’t regret it.”
And I didn’t regret it.
Once, as I was scrolling through Twitter, I came across a video of a pastor vehemently preaching against men wearing polka dots. According to him, every man who wears a polka-dotted shirt is living in sin. To be completely honest, I wasn’t really surprised by his comments, because I’ve heard things like this my entire life.
The other day, my friends rolled their eyes as I met them for lunch wearing my newly bought pink tee shirt and pink hat to match. “Jake’s wearing pink AGAIN,” my friend said as if my outfit was morally repulsive to her.
Years ago this would have crushed me.
When I was younger, every time I had to make a phone call to someone I didn’t know I would always lower my voice a few octaves. Even then, the person on the other end of the line would still “Yes, ma’am” me. It always stung a little and made me super critical of my voice.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that my masculinity isn’t defined by how deep my voice is, how much I can or can’t bench in the gym, or what color clothes I wear.
One of my favorite Brant Hansen podcast episodes is where Brant discusses how true masculinity is found in Christ. He says, “So what I have to do is think that maybe masculinity is defined differently than what culture is telling me.”
“Jesus did some very masculine obvious things, he was obviously a stonemason…he also challenged authority, but he also cried in public. He also hung out with women and treated them with an immense amount of respect and didn’t diminish them and didn’t act like they were silly…. He wanted the children to come to him, and in that culture, and in a lot of cultures men didn’t play with kids. But Jesus said get out of the way and bring the kids to me. I want to redefine whatever masculine is defined by who Jesus is.”
You can listen to this conversation below. It starts around 12:30.
So I may not be the manliest man ever. I may tear up at commercials, my voice may go three octaves higher when I’m excited, I may not be able to throw a football very well, but none of those things really matter.
What does matter is that I strive to be a man who is strong, who seeks God with his whole heart, who loves well, and who isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right, and yes, a man who sometimes wears pink.