Real Women Wear Pink

Some people think pink is a color for weak individuals, for little girls, Barbies, and for women without their own identities. They associate the color with the 1950's stereotypes of the subhuman woman living in a man’s world. They mistakenly parallel the color to inferiority, submission and utter concession. Those who know the power of pink know that all of that is nonsense. It's those ridiculous generalizations that are all too easily formulated. Usually they are conclusions that are come to by people who easily let other people's stereotypes affect their way of thinking. I say, pink is as strong as the character of the person who wears it.

In October, one automatically thinks not of this color, but of browns, yellows and oranges commonly found in an autumn palette. But pink, the color of one telltale ribbon, is more important to so many this season. It is a color proudly worn by those who support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And the movement, the pink-colored ribbon, and the activism are only as significant as the women who so clearly define it all.

Judy Bosch is my second mother. Since I was 12 years old, I have known her as my best friend Kim’s mom and one very opinionated lady. All of 5'3" and 95 lbs., she's made men twice her size cry in random arguments. Debate her, and you could lose a limb. She has a biting wit, and her sarcasm, if you’re not careful, could cut you and draw blood. Some use the term "spitfire" to describe this little powerhouse. I think it's best advised to call her Ms. Spitfire, if you please. She never breaks a sweat, never lets you see her cry. She has taken some major ups and downs in life with grace and grit. She has never let anything crumble her foundation. And when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew that it would be the disease, not the woman, struggling to survive. Breast cancer, as it so often does, picked the wrong woman to mess with. And in the end, breast cancer never knew what hit it. She was never scared, though we all were, and I was scared for my best friend. Judy alone gives pink a new name.

My cousin-in-law Susan Orzechowski is extremely funny. She has beautiful platinum blonde hair, and is usually the most boisterous person at the party. She’ll tell you like it is, whether you wanted to know or not. She has a talent for being humorous without even trying. My husband tells me stories of their youth together, and I wish I knew her then. Susan always babysat the younger children in the family (there were many) through the years; she loved kids more than you could ever imagine. Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in her early thirties. For a while, she lost her pretty blonde hair.

Susan thought, and was told, it would be nearly impossible to ever conceive her own children. Devastated but still hopeful, she proceeded to tell breast cancer where to go. When we celebrated her 5th anniversary of being cancer free this year, we also celebrated some other milestones. We celebrated the miracle that she was able to have her twin sons just shortly after her battle with cancer. And we also celebrated her newest son Aidan's place in her life. And pink, without a doubt, is definitely her color.

I could go on for days, telling you about my amazing Aunt Jan and other loved ones that represent the color pink. Unfortunately, my space limitations prohibit me. What I will tell you is that pink can move mountains. And it is in the presence of these pink ladies that you will find that pink is forever redefined. Pink is hope, life and overcoming hurdles. When I see pink, I see the faces of so many women. I see dreams realized, relatives drawn closer together, goals achieved in light of the toughest challenges. I see daughters and mothers embracing. I see tears - some of sadness and some of joy. I see families picking up the pieces when loss knocks the wind out of them. I see hard-won victories and hard-fought battles…

And that, for the record, is the power of pink.

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Author: Lara Webb-Barrett


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