Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Red Week, Tuesday

Men, it appears, like red. Today I have amassed a total of four tooted horns, several smiles, a few leers and a couple of comments. "Lovely colour," said one man as he passed me with a grin and a wink. As I stood outside Liverpool Street Station waiting to meet my mum for lunch, I watched as a high-vis wearing construction worker spotted me, stopped, stared and walked on, turning around a few times for another stare. (Oh the benefits of female peripheral vision: with the subtlest of glances we can catch out the most unsubtle of stares.)

After a week dressed in pink I have become used to people looking at my clothes, and to men smiling at me. But the smiles sent my way when I am dressed in red are very different to those I received last week. "Red is a statement colour" - we have heard that expression countless times. Yet what I want to know is: what am I stating? Judging by the reactions of many men over the last two days I wonder if to them it is a statement of availability and sexuality. Are my clothes playing matador, shouting 'look at me, I am woman", the red heels and lipstick the final flourish of the matador's cape? Pink may be feminine, but it is less self-assured than the firey flash of red, therefore conjures a very different image of femininity that incites very different reactions.

It is true that I have always associated red with womanliness. Meeting my mum today it was obvious why. Dressed in a red skirt, scarf and coat she was the image of my childhood memories and to me the personification of 'woman'. I never used to wear red, so strongly linked to my mum was the colour in my mind's eye. Heels and red: the two went hand in hand for me and I decided I couldn't wear either until I was a woman.

By now I have just about mastered the art of heels (even managing the odd dash for the bus in a teetering pair) so red has inevitably crept into my wardrobe too. Therefore despite feeling a bit like a postbox, wearing red these past two days has felt extremely comfortable. It has been interesting, therefore, to think about how something that seems to me a natural expression of my personality and femininity appears to the people I pass in the street. Or in other words, what my clothes are saying about me behind my back.


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