IN A bookshop in Biggar, when my younger son was about four-and-a-half and about to start school, a slightly older boy got chatting to him over a shared love of Octonauts picture books. (The Octonauts, for the unaware, are little undersea adventurers who rescue sick marine animals - a very good CBeebies creation.)

This older child asked my boy what his favourite colour was and on receiving the answer, which was pink, dispensed some wise advice.

“It’s really fine to like pink, but when you go to school, you might have to not SAY you like it,” he said, solemnly. “Some people – not me, but SOME PEOPLE – think pink is just a colour for girls.”

So young, and so tuned in, already, to the nonsense of gender stereotyping.

It’s true, pink has had, and maybe always will have, a particular reputation, associated with cuteness and unicorns and bubblegum-scented princesses.

Thanks to some skilful marketing, pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys has persisted, even down to the horrific current trend for ‘gender-reveal’ parties, at which parents-to-be set free balloons of either colour in front of friends and family to let them know the sex of the baby they are having.

But over the last quarter of a century, pink has also become associated with breast cancer. Since cosmetics giant Estee Lauder launched the pink ribbon in 1992, to help galvanise a global awareness and fundraising movement, it has become the symbol of people fighting the disease and the charities supporting them.

Now a charity founder has spoken out in favour of banning it because, she says “there is nothing pink and fluffy about breast cancer.”

Audrey Birt, who set up Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Scotland, has survived the illness four times.

She is right – as anyone who has been through it knows, there is absolutely nothing pretty about the way this disease attacks your body, your soul, your family and your life.

But I would respectfully suggest that a symbol as recognisable as the pink ribbon, which has helped to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for research, and put this type of cancer (in awareness terms) leaps and bounds ahead of the rest, should not be dismissed simply because it is pink.

At the start of the pink ribbon campaign, breast cancer was still very much a taboo topic so if you were going through it, you had little to go on – there was hardly any sharing of experience.

The pink ribbon has helped to change that, so why not allow it to change perceptions of pink too?

I don’t believe it was ever intended to diminish the horror of a breast cancer diagnosis. Far from being a negative, surely THIS pink is positive?

This pink means power and, for many, hope.