HAVANA._ In tune with the twenty-first century, Cuban youth are freeing themselves from the shackles of male stereotypes that have been in place for decades.

One of the first to fall is the idea that pink is a color worn exclusively by women.

Until modern technology could, with a very slight margin of error, predetermine the sex of unborn babies, expectant mothers had to have outfits of three basic colors on stand-by in the bottom drawer.

In tune with the twenty-first century, Cuban youth are freeing themselves from the shackles of male stereotypes that have been in place for decades.Pink, should the new arrival be a girl and both yellow and blue for a boy. Grandparents counselled the wisdom of nothing being left tochance. It would have been unthinkable to dress a boy, even a tiny toddler, in a pink shirt.

Today, such rigid codes of conduct are things of the past. The streets of Havana are full of young, and not so young, boys in dress-shirts, T-shirts, and jeans that range from bright fuchsia to the most subtle and palest of pinks.

Equally frequent are shirts and pants with the audacious signature of some designer in bright flaming crimson red, flaring orange, fluorescent yellow and green, deep purple or a fusion of all the above.

It is pink however that draws the most sarcastic remarks, disparaging comments, and derogatory outbursts of laughter from the “hairy-chested men” brigade.

Even more so if the ensemble combines collars, piercings, bangles, ear-rings, or bags similar to the ones used by their girlfriends who themselves see nothing odd or to fuss about.

“Look there, mate, now we’ve seen it all, they’re dressing like girls”, older men are overheard to say.

The young turn a deaf ear to such quips and stubbornly rooted relics of a bygone era of machismo brought to America from foreign lands.

To the contrary, secure in a masculinity that does not need to be reinforced by dress codes, they use groundbreaking, explosive and untypical fabrics, designs, and shades.

TV programs such as Conexion, targeting this population, is produced and presented by young and dynamic people, and vividly reflects such swings and youths’ new way of relating to the world around them.

As is true of every human group, some are simply more conservative and remain true to traditional tones of black, beige and white, check shirts, and stylistic sobriety.

It does seem though, that pink is here to stay, as are the shaved heads with just a thin line of standing hair running from the crown to the nape of the neck.

So much so, that the Cuban football team, who shone so brightly in the Veracruz Central American games, were christened the “crazy birds” by the media, because of rebellious spiked hairstyles that have become commonplace in contemporary Cuba.

This unique nickname is not only derived from a popular cartoon character but also from some traditional aboriginal cultures.

In addition, you have style gurus who keep their eyebrows trimmed, youths that shave their legs and torsos and sport hairstyles, and young men that wear ear adornments that state allegiance to their favorite fashion.

By necessity, every new era brings changes in aesthetics, the arts, dress preferences, and in the manner in which individuals perceive themselves.

Why should a younger Cuban generation not be in tune with the rhythm of their time, create a style, and feel that they are at the epicentre of their own new fashion trends that harmoniously flow in tandem with their individual identities and that of their home island anchored in the Caribbean sea.

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