鈥淚 just bought a candle called Boy Smells,鈥 my friend Kate recently told an Uber full of editors. 鈥淚t was like $30, and all the packaging is millennial pink.鈥 Millennial pink. It wasn鈥檛 a phrase I鈥檇 heard before, but I didn鈥檛 have to ask what she meant. It was immediately obvious to me. Everywhere I鈥檇 seen the color over the last year started flipping through my mind. Glossier ads, Ban.do鈥檚 Instagram feed, Everlane鈥檚 newsletter鈥 you鈥檝e seen it too. It鈥檚 the pink that鈥檚 not quite pink. Well, more like a spectrum of pink really 鈥 from that salmony shade to a washed-out cotton candy color. It鈥檚 a pink that鈥檚 shaping up to symbolize a whole new era of empowered women.

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I looked up Boy Smells after Kate mentioned it. She was right. From the box to the label, the brand鈥檚 site was drowning in 鈥渕illennial pink.鈥 But contrary to what the name might have you believe, the candles aren鈥檛 scented like Axe body spray and teenage angst. Instead, the sophisticated scents available could easily be incorporated in a Goop gift guide.

Is it surprising that a brand that 鈥 at first glance 鈥 appears to be embracing masculinity has chosen a traditionally feminine color to represent itself? No, because it鈥檚 the exact way the color is being used by brands and women everywhere.

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We鈥檒l start at the obvious starting place, with Glossier. The anti-makeup makeup brand has gained a diehard following for their barely there products since launching in 2014. In a recent Instagram story, Glossier鈥檚 founder Emily Weiss shared a slide from a presentation explaining the Glossier mission. It read, 鈥淭o reinvent the beauty experience for girls who aspire to be proud of who they are today.鈥

When I asked the ladies of Glossier what initially drew them to the color, they replied, 鈥淕lossier pink isn鈥檛 an everyday pink, and we went through many shades to find the right tones. It is gender neutral; it鈥檚 for boys or for girls. We also think it stands for something 鈥 it鈥檚 about embracing your particular approach to beauty, of being okay with you who are.鈥 If this pink could have a mission statement, it would be precisely that.

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This is not the oversaturated pink we鈥檝e known for the last 60 years, that eyesore of a color associated with Barbie鈥檚 convertible, the wardrobes of 鈥50s housewives and polyester prom dresses. Instead, it鈥檚 a progressive take on what pink meant for generations past. Simply put, it鈥檚 an emboldened stance on what femininity means in the 21st century. You might even call it a reclaiming of pink. It鈥檚 a pink that has become synonymous with feminism and girl power.

But where did it all start? With Pantone, where most trends are born, whether you realize it or not. The leading authority on color chose two 鈥渃olors of the year鈥 for 2016, a baby blue by the name of 鈥淪erenity鈥 and a dusty pink known as 鈥淩ose Quartz.鈥 The idea: Together they represent harmony and balance. Read into the gender undertones of that however you like. Dusty rose is a bit more saturated than the almost beige shade we鈥檙e starting to see today, but it鈥檚 what got marketers and big brands on board.

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Cult-favorite millennial brand Ban.do cranked up the color鈥檚 prevalence. Notoriously neutral Everlane now has an聽entire edit dedicated to it. It鈥檚 also the color representing those controversial subway ads for Thinx (the period panties). All three companies have different missions, with one exception: They all cater to millennial women who are tired of the patriarchy.

Enter: the diffusion of the color in pop culture. Solange is cloaked in power pink all throughout her acclaimed video for 鈥淐ranes in the Sky.鈥 Brie Larson wore it the night she took home an Oscar for Room. Lady Gaga dons it on the cover of her newest album Joanne. It鈥檚 tied to practically everything girlboss Sophia Amoruso touches. And NYC鈥檚 buzziest, girls-only social club The Wing is practically dripping in it.

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It鈥檚 not just Pantone鈥檚 authoritative influence that led to a pink explosion. In this Trumpian era where women鈥檚 issues are more at risk than ever, this color is serving as a sort of shield 鈥 a badge of honor, if you will. It鈥檚 about embracing all things 鈥済irly鈥 without abandon, embarrassment or tentativeness. As V茅ronique Hyland of The Cutwrites, it鈥檚 鈥渁 moment of ambivalent girliness.鈥 This pink is a symbol of power. Wear it with pride to your executive office job, while you鈥檙e walking in the women鈥檚 march or when you cross the finish line of that ultra marathon that鈥檚 on your 2017 resolution list.

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Given the depth of this color and our growing disdain for attaching our generation鈥檚 name to literally everything we touch, we鈥檙e going to ditch the term 鈥渕illennial pink鈥 from here on out. (Sorry, Kate.) In its place, something a little punchier: power pink.

We are women. We like pink. Deal with it.

Where have you spotted power pink? Share with us on Twitter @BritandCo.

Products featured: Boy Smells Candle ($29), Ban.do The Boss mug ($14), Ban.do I Am Very Busy Planner ($20), Ban.do BFF Flair Starter Pack ($25), Glossier Balm Dot Com ($12), Daisy Natives Girls Support Girls Tee ($30), Ban.do Pink Skies Up Ahead Tee ($38), The Style Club Suede Baseball Cap ($69), Onomie Bright Concealing Elixir聽($30), Chronicle Books Feminist Journal ($10), Intax Instant Camera ($60), Chloe Fleur de Parfum ($105), H&M Handbag ($40), Zero Gravity Fried Eggs Embroidered Phone Case ($34).

Photography: Kurt Andre and Tory Putnam

Models: Cortney Clift, Beth Wischnia and Kelly Bryden

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