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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Social Experiment Code Name: Plum Perspective

When I was growing up there were many books and articles that came out about color and personality. One book described the colors a person should wear based on their skin tone that was analogous to the seasons. And the Red Hat society began in earnest. It's motto is essentially to live life in full color. There was a quote that kept with me for many reasons, number one, it referenced my favorite color.

I am in my forties and I have started wearing more purple. I started before dad died. There is a silly thought that says purple belongs to a select group of individuals, that it is too precious for common people. And yet, purple is a beloved color to millions of people. The home decor industry final began making purple items for bed and bath in its myriad shades and made the color even more accessible. So why do so many people still have a thing about homogeneous community standards. It is almost as if purple is as offensive as having your underwear hang out of your pants.

The community in which I live has always had a bit of rural character. Even as we move into a more progressive thought process and begin to adapt to the modern world, sometimes even taking the lead, we are still so backwards in the way that deal with personal appearance.

Somehow, purple has become to many the "fuck you" of fashion statements. It has to go with something else to "tone it down". Not because the color is loud and clashy. But because it is too bold. It is bold. It is too proud somehow. Proud? Is it really pride that the "elders" object to? Or is it the daring?

Purple is definitely a daring color as there are many ways it can go wrong, from and artistic perspective. It can overwhelm. But the right shade, eggplant or aubergine, can also unify and replace black as a neutral. Purple is daring. And it is bold in the sense that it is not the common or safe choice for accents or to be a neutral color. Purple is a color for stepping out of your comfort zone for sure. I think that is why this quote struck such a chord with so many.

Taken from the poem, "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, the idea therein is that purple is the color of abandon. It is the color of not caring what others think, it is the opposite of dull sobriety of manner while being the truest expression of self. And perhaps that is what is so scary for many of a certain mindset. Most people live life with the idea that we grow up to get old, to get ahead and not that we grow up and grow old because that is what we do. It is a process of life. Somehow we have equated seriousness and solemnity with adulthood and aging. And Jenny Joseph, seemed to have figured this out in her thirties.

Written in 1961, the poem is the summation of the behaviors of the aged (men do this sort of thing as well) but written from the perspective of a woman. Indeed, as I am in the menopausal stage and have come to the conclusion that sour people have dictated my life to me for far too long now. Reflective of the age in which one shuns the opinions of others and simply lives in ones most natural state, Warning seems to be the lesson of menopause.

Life is too short not to do the things that you love.

Life is too short to be something you are not for the sake of society's comfort.

Purple is the color of abandon. Not reckless or thoughtlessness, but of radical acceptance of who you are. No, you don't HAVE to wear purple to prove you are free. Embracing your favorite color so that you become synonymous with that color is sufficient. Radical acceptance of who you are, non conformity to the extreme... it is a bold thought.

So I am conducting an experiment. I want to know if I can radically accept myself. While I am recovering from my heart issues, I have decided to dye my hair purple. It will be some weeks before I am able to go back to work. So in the mean time, I have put my beliefs to the test. My hair is a shocking shade of purple. Plum over the calico mess God gave me has produced a range of purple colors on my head that looks a hardware store paint swatch display. I will monitor my internal dialog as I go through the day.

The goal is to see how consistent I think and behave under this acceptance. Home thoughts don't seem to really differ. Though I have been asking myself already what my facebook friends will think. Then we shall see how the internal dialog goes in semi-public I have the doctor tomorrow and several other appointments this week. And then I will take it out for a test drive by going to very public places. How does my brain work when I am alone? How does it work in a safe group of friends? How does it talk to me in each of my public lifes?

There is a difference between the public "go get groceries" life and the public "this is me on twitter life". We can safely assume twitter life is going to be encouraging. We can block mean people there in a way that is not possible when you are at the deli counter.

So we shall see if I can actually back my words with actions.

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