"It has now reached the point where if I’m not wearing at least one pink thing, my friends are somewhat disappointed to see me"EVIE VENNIX/CAMBRIDGE PINK WEEK

Anyone who knows me will say I’m pretty much the ‘pinkest’ person ever. My room, my stationery and a good majority of my clothes are pink. In fact, when asking my friends what the colour pink made them think of for this article, their first answer was: you (not very helpful, but thanks guys). It is undeniably my favourite colour. However, when I became Co-President of Cambridge Pink Week 2021, I began to reflect more on the colour and its significance. To me, pink is a vibrant, fun, warm colour that brightens up my days (and hopefully, the day of anyone I run into!). Yet the construction of gender that surrounds the colour can make some people feel that they cannot identify with what the colour represents.

“We believe that just because Pink Week is ‘pink’ does not in any way mean that everyone is not welcome”

Historically, back in the 1920s and 30s, pink was not exclusively associated with girls. This gendered division of colours is a social construct stemming in part from consumer marketing techniques. What do we see when we look at the colour yellow? I think most people would say happiness, sunshine and joy, to name a few positive connotations. Or green? Nature, regeneration, life. When asked the same question about pink, many would answer: girliness, femininity and flower blossoms (amongst other things too!) Of course, none of these things are intrinsically bad; it is the exclusively gendered nature by which we see the colour pink which is harmful. This is especially important when it comes to the colour’s association with breast cancer, as breast cancer does not only affect those who identify as female.

“It’s not just ‘on Wednesdays we wear pink’, it’s EVERY day we wear pink” has become something of a joke among our committee members. I was living by this long before I assumed my committee role, but it took on a new, metaphorical meaning when I did: wearing pink meant not just literally wearing pink, but spreading awareness of breast cancer, and publicising the values and messages of Pink Week.

It has now reached the point where if I’m not wearing at least one pink thing, my friends are somewhat disappointed to see me. When I first started to do this as a teenager, I received some discouragement: it was no longer considered cute for a girl to be obsessed with pink. I went through a decidedly ‘purple phase’ (a big leap, I know) when I was about thirteen to fourteen, because liking pink just wasn’t cool anymore. Thankfully, around the age of fifteen I gave up on that pretence, painted my whole room bright pink, wore a pink blazer throughout sixth form and have not looked back since. It was around this time that I first discovered the Pink Ribbon and saw women doing walks in bright pink to raise money for breast cancer. That association is something that has stuck with me ever since: the empowerment of taking charge not just of the colour, but of breast cancer awareness.

However, it seems the exclusivity around the colour pink continues: my ten-year-old cousin has been experiencing the same thing, even earlier than I did; at the age of nine, she was told by her peers (mostly, but not entirely, boys) in the playground that her pink rucksack and pink coat (bought for her by me, yes) were girly and lame. Now, all she wears is black and Adidas and she refuses to be seen in public in the colour. Yet, when I visit her, she’ll still dress up in pink and play with pink toys all day. I refuse to accept that you can’t be seen in pink because of its girly associations. You can 100% still be a boss and slay the game, whether you are wearing pink or not. The association between the colour and ‘girlyness’ as a pejorative concept (which I wholeheartedly oppose) needs to disappear.

“This year’s Pink Week, pink conveyed not just breast cancer awareness, but power, joy and creativity”

Breast cancer is just one example of many powerful efforts to reclaim the colour pink. LGBT+ groups, for instance, reclaimed the Pink Triangle that homosexuals were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps as a symbol of activism and pride. The colour pink can have a multitude of meanings and connotations; it does not just mean one thing. This year’s Pink Week, pink conveyed not just breast cancer awareness, but power, joy and creativity. Fully embracing this in our logo, graphics and social media posts has been a lot of fun, not just for me but the whole committee, and we hope we’ve spread that joy throughout Cambridge and beyond.

We believe that just because Pink Week is ‘pink’ does not in any way mean that everyone is not welcome. Just because our branding is pink does not mean that people who identify as male and non-binary cannot get involved! In fact, with the lack of awareness around male breast cancer, it is essential that they do. For Pink Week 2021, our three pillars were ‘Education, Fundraising and Inclusion’, and the latter is to me the core of what pink really represents. Our virtual art exhibition (which is still live) contains a range of submissions of what breast cancer, or pink, means to students. Scrolling through the exhibition space, I was overawed by the emotion and poignancy of the pieces which range from abstract pieces to depictions of the female body in all shapes and forms, including mastectomy. The art is not just pink – it shows what Pink Week represents, stretching far beyond the colour by illustrating the empowerment and amazing cause that is at the centre of it all. The array of pink pictures posted during the week showed that, from sunsets to pink lights, pink has infinite meanings.


Mountain View

Pink Week 2021: Cambridge turns pink in aid of breast cancer charities

Personally, wearing and amassing an impressive collective of pink things is part of what makes me ‘me’, and enables me to express myself and my personality. At Pink Week, we wanted to empower everyone to feel this way, both with inclusive and representative campaigns AND the life-saving information you need to check yourself.

Pink Week 2021, especially through the #TurnCamPink campaign, has shown that the colour pink does not just belong to girls. I am sure that whoever saw King’s College lit up pink, or anything else turning pink over the week (including you, thank you for tagging us in your pinkest pictures!), did not think it was to represent something supposedly ‘girly’. They understood the significance of the colour, and of the empowerment involved in breast cancer awareness.

Overall, if Pink Week 2021 leaves you with anything, we want it to be that lasting image of Cambridge in pink – and may that remind you, for many many years to come, the importance of being cancer aware and checking yourself. It may just save your life.

You can still support Pink Week and find our educational materials to check yourself here: