June 23 is National Pink Day because . . . because . . . well, who knows? Because the internet! Let’s eat, drink, wear, and use pink, and celebrate its symbolism.
These days it is traditional to associate pink with girls and blue with boys, but that was not always so. Once upon a time, baby boys were dressed in pink because it was considered more powerful. (This article from Smithsonian really gives you the history; it’s worth your time.) By the 1970s pink became so identified with femininity that gentlemen wearing pink dress shirts were automatically assumed to prefer each other’s company. Ahem.
Pink can symbolize many things, including relief from indigestion*. For instance, pale pink roses symbolize grace and joy in the Language of Flowers. Why not present some to a Graceful and Joyous Someone? It’s also a color of gay pride (though the rainbow has supplanted it as a more inclusive symbol). And let’s not forget that pink is also the color for breast cancer awareness. While Breast Cancer Awareness Month is observed in October, it’s always important.
Pink, like all colors, falls in and out of fashion. Elsa Schiaperelli shook things up in the 1930s when she introduced her “shocking” pink in her couture and packaging. It became her signature color. Mamie Eisenhower became the world’s most visible Pink Promoter in the 1950s, exuberantly wearing and celebrating pink at every opportunity. (It got to be too much. White House maid Lillian Rogers Parks, when asked to make a pink pincushion for the ground floor powder room, in which everything was already pink, rebelled and made a green one. “There had to be some contrast!” she said.)**
On National Pink Day there are all sorts of wonderful pink things to eat and drink while using your favorite pink china and crystal: borscht, fruit soups, salmon mousse, shrimps, petits fours, pink-tinted Russian Cream with berries, and of course any cake can be frosted pink. The mid-century vogue for monochromatic meals has died out. But it was once a thing, as a novelty, to serve an entire meal of foods made to conform to one color. Pink tea parties are one thing for the ladies in the neighborhood, but coloratura soprano Lily Pons took things one step further during World War II, holding all-pink luncheons for American soldiers***. Etiquetteer supposes khaki and camoflage complement pink rather well, but this does seem to take the idea to extremes.
Nor should we forget Etiquetteer’s Pink Gin, anything with grenadine, or - choicest of all - pink champagne. Last year’s cocktail vogue of the frosé should make a comeback for National Pink Day. Etiquetteer, however, advises against reviving the traditional Pink Lady cocktail, but that’s an entirely personal preference. And remember: don’t clink when you drink your pink. It’s not Perfectly Proper to clink glasses in a toast.
Drink responsibly! Don’t celebrate so much you see pink elephants tomorrow. You don’t want to turn out like poor Agnes Gooch in Patrick Dennis’s wonderful novel Auntie Mame, who ordered a Pink Whiskers cocktail at the Algonquin, and then another, and then another . . . and was never the same again. Hotcha! (If you ask very nicely, Etiquetteer might record that section of the novel, which has been shared in previous years at Etiquetteer’s Repeal Day at the Gibson House Museum.)
It won’t surprise you that Etiquetteer considers the Anthem of National Pink Day Kay Thompson’s rousing rendition of “Think Pink!” from the movie Funny Face of 1957.
But now we also have a singing celebrity named Pink. That Mr. Dimmick Who Thinks He Knows So Much loves her song “Beautiful Trauma,” but Etiquetteer warns you that the video below contains language, images, and themes that are NOT Perfectly Proper. Click at your own risk!
However you choose to observe National Pink Day, Etiquetteer wishes you a day of Perfect Propriety that leaves you feeling in the pink.
*That Mr. Dimmick made Etiquetteer add that reference! Reference to Bodily Function is not Perfectly Proper.
**From her wonderful memoir My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House.
***Gleaned from Jane and Michael Stern’s delightful cookbook Square Meals.