This past week, with so much upheaval in the world at least a dozen people texted me using the expression “I’m so mad I’m seeing red.”
I started thinking about my own relationship with red.
Red hats, red lipstick, red stilettos, red hats with logos, red hot anger, and even “It’s that time of the month.”
Stay with me, it will make sense in a few seconds.
Did you know that red has a range of symbolic meanings?
It signifies health, vigor, war, courage, anger, love, and religious fervor.
You ask: What difference does that really make? Who cares? We have more important things to discuss besides talking about red, or blue, or whatever.
My answer: I am using color, focusing right now on red, which is visually in the news so much these days, to discuss the importance of critical thinking.
Critical thinking: needed now more than ever
Putting the puzzle of how patterns from the past impact the present is a major part of critical thinking.
Social media, conspiracy theories, personal points of view, all need to be put through the filter of truth.
Truth is complex and needs its own dialogue time. However, I am suggesting that for now, we all take a broader view of what is going on, rather than just fall into either/or and the us/ them camps.
The more you look upstream to understand current events, the more you can make decisions based on fact.
Yes, there is always emotion included (at no extra charge).
Once you can put the facts together you can tame emotions, so they are useful, not destructive.
Color is easier to discuss than national politics.
ASK: What is the Back Story?
When you ask the question, the same common denominator will show up. The more you know about the back story of anything, the more you can see the way forward.
The more you know about how you decide what to decide, the better will be your decisions.
The more you know about colors, the more you can decide how to make colors work for you.
The Story of Red
From the day you were born, even before conception, there are so many beliefs as well as neurological reasons we “see red.” (HINT: Women use this expression way more than men do).
Let me explain: Think about stereotypes.
Pink is for girls and blue is for boys, right? Did you ever wonder where this idea ever came from? What if you choose green or yellow for the baby’s blanket?
Again, you say: What difference does it make? Who cares anyway?
Red has a HISTORY (and a HERSTORY)
This color thing is really fascinating. First, a very brief trip through time.
In the 1800s all babies, male and female wore white “dresses” in infancy. Thus, babies were gender-neutral. These sacks were easy for changing diapers and easy to bleach when they became spotted and dirty.
Then somewhere around the 1920’s Western parents began dressing children in colors. There were better dyes. And just a guess, after the 1918 Pandemic was over people wanted brightness and fun, coming out of such a dark time.
Now, this is where it gets super interesting.
Pink was for boys. You heard me right. Pink was for boys!
Here is the rationale: red is a bold color and represented bravery and pink is the watered-down version for the “little men” not quite ready for the boldness of red.
Blue, a more subdued color was for the girls.
Take a deep breath, all you bold ladies out there. Blue was for girls since it was associated with the Virgin Mary, the color of purity.
Hey, I’m just the reporter here.
And wait, there is more.
Mad Men and Color
By the end of World War II, the advertising titans took over. Colors were flip-flopped. And you can blame that on the Mad Men of Madison Avenue. Red is so enticing that it became the symbol of sexuality and availability. (Ever hear of the red- light district?).
One more bit of research. Color preference studies from many universities indicate that when men and women are shown primary colors both genders prefer blue. Yet, when looking at blends, women prefer pink and lilac.
So, maybe the saying “pretty in pink” has validity.
Time to Break the Stereotypes
Men are conditioned to wear darker colors, usually blue suits. The tie depends on many things such as political party affiliation, which is acceptable at work, and what the women in the family prefer.
Women have a wider range of choices yet, still give in to the stereotypes when choosing colors.
An interesting fact: Research from Time magazine (July 2014) shows that women do NOT like, hear me, do NOT like, or trust other women who wear too much red.
And presently, red is the symbol of rebels who want to take over, to do ‘it’ (whatever you decide ‘it’ means).
Perhaps, when the red-hot heat of these times cools down we can choose our colors based on simply an inner choice of what looks good and feels good. Not as a political statement that chooses some over others.
Let’s all express ourselves using all the colors available.
Choose what you wear, choose how you think.
Imagine what the world would look like if we put stereotypes away and begin to see each other as fallible, caring, unique individuals.
These times are demanding change, demanding critical thinking. Everything has a back story and with the internet, we have access to good information as well as so much misinformation. Sift through. Take the time to research before you point fingers at “the other.”
The rainbow is a mix of colors. And you know what is said to be at the end of a rainbow. It’s a pot of gold.
Here’s to your success,
P.S. Much of this information is taken from my book GUTSY: How Women Leaders Make Change. You can check the book out here.