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Newsflash: 'Millennial pink' is really just blush

"Millennial pink" has been around decades longer than millennials.

A neutral-hued  off-the-shoulder dress by JOA available at Bloomingdale’s.
A neutral-hued off-the-shoulder dress by JOA available at Bloomingdale’s.Read moreBloomingdale's

So millennials are such a special generation they have their own color, eh?

They do. And it's called "millennial pink."

In case you've been living under an opaque rock, this old-is-new shade of pinky-pink ranges from cotton candy to a more saturated flamingo.

Back in the day, millennial pink was called simply "light pink" or "pastel pink." In more descriptive circles, it's referred to as "rose" or "blush." My mom calls it "Jackie O pink," and I once heard my grandma refer to it as "Chanel pink."

In other words, millennial pink has been around decades longer than millennials.

But thanks to young rappers (Drake), new lipsticks (Kylie Jenner's Kylie Cosmetics), fictional movie edifices (The Grand Budapest Hotel), girl-power tomes (#GirlBoss by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso), athleisure clothing (last week's just-released Nike Chrome Blush collection), and this summer's must-have wine (rosé), marketers seem to have just handed over this historically fashion-forward shade to millennials.

"Millennials are treating it like it's a new color," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. "Those of us who have loved this pink for years and years don't think of it as a new color. … What I think is happening is that millennials are drawn to the idea of a color that's soft but that isn't super-feminine. Its fluidity is what gives [this shade of pink] a whole new meaning."

It was the Pantone Color Institute that thrust the shy shade into our color consciousness in 2016, when it named Rose Quartz one of the co-colors of the year. A light blue Pantone named Serenity was the other shade. Both hues, according to Pantone, represented a certain gender fluidity driving trends in lifestyle and pop culture beyond "real men wear pink."

And because millennials are the first generation to embrace such a nonbinary way of thinking without much judgment, it makes sense  that marketers of clothing and home goods, books and music, and even wine and spirits are ready, willing, and able to rename light pink "millennial pink," said Jane Boddy, color director for global trend forecasting firm WGSN.

Where were those same folks when gray (remember when it was the new black?) should have been named "Gen X slate?"

"The term has become massive," Boddy said. "Millennials have embraced pink, turning it on its head. It's modern and deliriously cool."

That must be why the young men who came to Philly in April for the NFL draft were millennial-pinked out.

A few years before blush went genderless, it was part of the emerging social-media scene as the trademark hue for the blog-making website Tumblr.

New brands seeking fierceness incorporated the sheer shade into their campaigns, like Thinx underwear. Rihanna has an entire millennial pink collection for her Puma Fenty line. First daughter Ivanka Trump wears (and sells) a lot of millennial pink.

"It's all over my Instagram," said Amanda Hill Bokosky, 29, director of public relations at Bloomingdale's in King of Prussia and Willow Grove Park Malls. She recently married in a blush — er, millennial pink — fishtail gown.

"It's in all our advertising campaigns, it's in all of our products, from blazers to sneakers, and we will definitely see it paired with tropical shades and darker neutrals in the fall," Bokosky said.

But the key reason she says millennial pink is a thing is that it's really a range of colors — and we know how noncommittal millennials can be, right?

There is nude millennial pink, which is best worn by itself. Dusty and dirty millennial pink, which I like with navy blue. Warm millennial pink, best paired with orange.

There is a millennial pink for every mood and a version of the hue for every season. Millennials won't be boxed in and labeled, nor will their hue.

It's all kind of powerful when you think about it, right?

The whole ridiculous concept leaves me tickled pink.