The Cut recently published a piece on Millennial Pink, the ubiquitous shade that evokes memories of unwrapped DoubleBubble Gum from your #NinetiesKids childhood. There are entire Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr pages dedicated to the color which was originally branded “TumblrPink.”

In a recent Vogue article, a slideshow parading Millennial Pink outfits served as fresh proof that color theory is dead. One collage (pictured below) seems to depict not Millennial Pink, but a high-fashion version of the kids’ menus at IHOP that, while we awaited our stacks of carbs, prompted us to circle the object that was not like the others.

In what universe is that pink skirt the same color as the sweatshirt?

Certainly not in Pantone’s universe, and Pantone is the arbiter of color differentiation. Once upon a time, the color-industrial complex which is Pantone declared Serenity (a blue) and Rose Quartz to be the official colors of 2016. In a slight shift, the color of 2017 is Pale Dogwood. Rose Quartz has more blue undertones and is significantly more saturated than Pale Dogwood is. If you were to edit your hot Instagram bikini pic to decrease contrast, what was originally Rose Quartz could end up looking more like Pale Dogwood.

Look at Rose Quartz and then at Pale Dogwood. Now look back up at that “Millennial Pink” skirt. Do you see three different colors? Yes, you do; but all that The Cut and Vogue seem to see is Millennial Pink. The Cut even pointed to Sweetbitter, a novel by Stephanie Danler, as an example of Millennial Pink for its cover (pictured below).


Now that seems like salmon to me. Believe me on this, as I spent way too much time on the PreppyBoysInSalmonShorts Tumblr to not call salmon when I see it.

So we return to the essential question: what is Millennial Pink? Is it blush? Is it Salmon? Is it Rose Quartz? Is it Bazooka Bubblegum?

To paraphrase Lindsay Lohan’s Cady Heron: “[Millennial Pink] does not exist!” If four or five different shades, hues, and tones can all be named the same color, then color theory is dead.