This article was written by Amy Hatfield and originally appeared on Grand View Outdoors.
The bullheaded notion that every female hunter longs to wear a touch of pink on their camo is finally dead. And SITKA Gear killed it. Thank you.
To be fair, an embarrassingly small number of apparel visionaries (I can think of one) have already taken some shots at this baseless pink trend. So we thank you too.
Two years ago, SITKA set out to create a fully functional women’s line. The most frequent piece of feedback the company received was this: there is no need for pink stitching, or girly logos. See the results.
We thank you because we just want to be like everyone else. Because we don’t want to feel girly when we are freezing our asses off in a tree stand, climbing a ridge with dirty nails or field dressing an animal after we’ve killed it. We thank you because we want to feel confident and capable and self-reliant. Does every female backpacker you meet on the hiking trail wear pink? No. Has any women’s U.S. Olympic team worn a touch of pink slapped on their red, white and blue uniforms? No. Is my washing machine pink? Are the tomatoes I put on my girlie salad to maintain my girlish figure pink? No and no.
The hope is not that pink-accented camo will no longer be an option. Options are good. The hope is that pink-accented camo will no longer be the only option.
SO HOW DID WE END UP HERE?
What’s funny about the inclination to slap some pink on women’s hunting apparel is how utterly unsupported this marketing ploy has proven to be. There is no survey on women’s buying motives or consumer research to substantiate the demand for pink on products marketed to women.
In fact, pink doesn’t even rank as a favorite color among women. According to bestpsychologydegrees.com, blue is the preferred color for both men and women. Thirty-five percent of women surveyed prefer blue, while 23 percent prefer purple. Also, different colors evoke different emotions. And these emotions are based on experiences, not what one is told a color is meant to represent. Most commonly, pink evokes love, romance, friendship, passiveness, nostalgia and sexuality. None of which are particularly useful in the woods if your intention is to actually hunt rather than make out in a food plot or hunting blind.
The tech magazine Fast Company featured an article that had this to say in 2013: “Since the public response to the pinkification of gender-neutral products seems, at face value, to be universally negative, we were wondering, why do companies keep making these things?” It’s a legit question.
One can only hope it’s not for social and behavioral reasons that have little or nothing to do with selling product. That’s what one piece, published this month in Outside Magazine, seems to suggest:
“For years, hunting media has been fixated on what I call sexpot huntresses, a male fantasy role carved out for female hunters that involves spray-on tans, capped teeth, lots of mascara, camouflage bikini tops, and plenty of pink. It’s far from representative of the many female hunters that I’ve known throughout my life, who just want to be accepted as equals in the woods. What’s more, they have a lot to say about conservation and say it better than a lot of men do.”
But maybe all of that matters a little less now because the leadership at SITKA appears to be focused on what female consumers want versus what the company thinks we want. They’ve done their research.
“Two years ago, SITKA set out to create a fully functional women’s line of performance camouflage,” said SITKA Gear Big Game Product Developer John Barklow. “We gathered several female ambassadors and designers and went to the drawing board. The most frequent piece of feedback we received was that there is no need for pink stitching or girly logos.”
The Outside Magazine article unintentionally validated what SITKA found. But it wasn’t the story itself so much as the Facebook comments the story triggered.
Madison Town of Snowmass Village, Colorado, posted, “I tell my husband all the time — no pink camo unless we’re hunting flamingos or pink panthers.” And there was Brian Crawford, who posted this: “This trend disturbs me as the father of two girls. When I see a pink camo or pink trimmed camo, I just think, ‘I guess those companies don’t believe women can hunt turkeys or waterfowl.’” Jennifer Zwicker, a mom who hunts with her daughters, said, “My daughters abhor pink. We enjoy our time and like to just get the job done.”
WOMEN’S HUNTING APPAREL NEEDED A FIT FIX
While the women’s hunting apparel and longstanding insistence on pink often hits a nerve, women’s camo also hits other things, like too-long sleeves that hit fingertips and intrude on bow release triggers or pant waistlines that hit five inches above the belly button. You guys remember those? Any higher and the waistline starts to compete with your bra, and it’s chaos under the shirt.
No one needs that kind of distraction, especially when you’re in the field, as Jennifer Zwicker succinctly noted, “just trying to get the job done.”
So about performance and functionality. SITKA’s new women’s line has all the modern technology that allows apparel to perform against the elements. This stuff is lightweight and durable. And it allows a woman to move without effort. Oh, and it fits. It really, really fits.
This past spring, I was in hunt camp with another outdoor writer. She’d received the new SITKA women’s apparel one week before our hunt, early, to test it out before the end of turkey season. I knew without having seen it the clothing was very adaptable. It boasted the double whammy of a moisture-wicking base layer paired with an insulated layer to regulate core temperature. I also knew the women’s gear was the benefactor of advanced technologies not yet introduced in the men’s line. All the features, the performance technology, they’re all there.
But in camp, that stuff was overshadowed by what I saw: this hunting apparel looked different. This woman walked out of the lodge. She looked ready and she looked like she belonged.
“Ready” — what does that mean?
Well, she looked fit. Athletic. Capable. She appeared strong, but it was a graceful strength because the apparel fit so well that it didn’t cancel out her femininity. There was a litheness in her strength. I can only compare it to the type of strength and athleticism I see in the outdoor women I know who are geared up to go backpacking or rock climbing. That writer looked like she owned what she was wearing and, all too often, when women go hunting, they look like what they’re wearing owns them.
So, if you so choose, rest assured you can hunt this fall in pants that aren’t too wide, causing swooshing between your legs. No bulky, restrictive jackets. No pant crotches that go too low, hitting somewhere around mid-thigh. You girls know.
And, finally, you can hunt without pink or you can hunt with pink. It’s true that many of us don’t want pink stitching or girlie logos on our camo, but that doesn’t mean we’ll never add a subtle frosty, pink lipstick to our hunt camp look or, maybe, there are pink toenails hidden discreetly beneath our muddy camo boots.
Yeah, we know. It’s a paradox. A pink paradox.