Sunday, 13 February 2011

Pink Week, Sunday

For 7 days I have worn (pretty much) nothing but pink. I have kept myself dry with a pink umbrella, I have slipped my feet into pink shoes, I have worn pink pyjamas and I have even spritzed myself with Lacoste's 'A Touch of Pink' perfume.

At the beginning of the week I wanted to learn how the things you choose to wear can impact the way people treat you and the way you feel about yourself. Thankfully this hasn't been like the dreadfully dull school experiments that I remember (no need for bunsen burners and no counting bubbles in boiling water), in fact I have never had so much fun with my wardrobe. It has been a highly entertaining and crazily colourful, yet interesting experiment into the power of clothes.

This week I have watched the varied, and often extreme, reactions of people on the street, of my friends, my coursemates and my own changes in mood - all because of the colour of the clothes that I have put on my back.

So what have I learnt about people and pink?

Mainly, that our relationships with colour are highly personal. After this week I would say that pink is an undeniably cheerful colour and I have received countless smiles over the last 7 days. Yet those smiles haven't always come from the people you would expect. In general men have been the friendliest, which has completely gone against my previous thought that men would find pink overpoweringly feminine and sickly sweet.

Of course, many women have embraced my rosiness, but I wonder why many have not. Does it speak of lingering feminist views? With years of female oppression just over our shoulders does my overt expression of femininity in fact offend? Or do the scathing looks and exchanged snickers just speak of a female cattiness towards appearance? Maybe it just highlights the theory that for many women fashion is about fitting in - to see someone step out of the mould like I have this week is bound to cause a reaction if your reason for getting dressed in the morning is to blend in comfortably with the crowd.

Pink is a confident colour. It is sunny, it is happy, but it is also loud. It could be true that lots of people simply don't like the colour. I have already said that our relationships with colour are very personal, so of course our tastes will vary. Yet I wonder too whether some of the laughs that have been fired my way reflect the epidemic of female insecurity. This week I have accepted looking silly with open arms. I knew I would be laughed at, so it didn't really matter to me. So maybe by laughing at me it actually showed that many people don't like being laughed at themselves.

And what about me? How has one colour changed the way I have felt?

It is true that wearing pink has made me happy. Probably because it has made other people happy. "If the colour pink was the sun, it would be you," is possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Yes I have made heads turn and looked like I have been painted by a little girl's imagination, but in a world swathed in gloomy grey how can that be a bad thing? I do think being taken seriously becomes more difficult when dressed head to toe in pink; this week I have certainly felt the heat of a fair few mocking glances. But that in itself has been fascinating. All of the reactions I have received this week, the good, the bad and the uncomfortable, have shown me how poignant something as simple as a colour choice can be and how deeply ingrained our associations with colours lie.

It will be strange to wave goodbye to the land of pink, but my experiment moves on to its next stage tomorrow: a week in red. I can't wait to put on the red lipstick, step into the red heels and start my social experiment, part 2.


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