July 18, 2006

The Color of Purple

Purple (as opposed to Green, Pink, or fill-in-the-blank) Women has proven to be an interesting naming strategy. It certainly makes people curious, but it takes a lot of explaining. My hope was that it would start a conversation, whereas a title like “Childfree, so there” might be a bit of a turn-off.

People always ask: “Why purple?” I can answer that in several ways, but what’s even more interesting is what people have shared with me about the color purple.

1. Purple is the color that the cervix turns when a woman is about to give birth. (All together now: “Eeeeeeeeeeeeew!” Sorry, I had to get that one out of the way first.)

2. Purple is the color of the highest denomination poker chip = $5,000.

3. Purple is the color of royalty.

4. Purple is associated with a famous poem by Jenny Jones about women who wear the color.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me..."

5. The Color Purple is a book by Alice Walker which was made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey and is now a Broadway musical.

6. Purple is associated with the cause to stop violence against women and children. The Purple Ribbon Campaign was initiated by the Women’s Action Coalition of Nova Scotia following the December 6, 1989 killing of 14 women in Montreal, according to their website.

7. Purple has long been the color of the women's movement, beginning with the suffragettes and is a symbol of pain and suffering. (According to a men-centric, pro-feminist website.)

It is good to be enlightened while surfing the third wave.

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Robin said...

That's really great to know...very interesting.

ChrisR said...

When I first came across this site, I immediately thought of "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple", so it's nice that you had it in mind.

Also, the suffragette colours were purple and green (I try to wear both on International Women's Day).

Teri said...

Hi Robin and ChisR - Yes, I learn more all the time!

That famous poem is really about women being bold enough to be themselves, do what they want, be authentic...and not wait too long to do so. At least to me, but I suspect to many others as well. So I think the association is very appropriate. Some day I may take to wearing that color combination, who knows!

Anonymous said...

Well, purple used to be the color of royalty so the idea of identity outside of that of a parent is a royal idea. Good luck and cheers. You know some parents, like me, don't like to be identified by the mother tag, although that can be such an identifying and consuming role. Hence: motherpie. There's more to life than that identifier.

H.A.Page said...

Oops. Didn't mean that above to be anonymous.

flowerbells said...

When I was growing up in Texas in the 1940s and 1950s, older white women -- don't know about women of color -- wore lighter purples. Almost always. Dowdy, frumpy purples.

Anonymous said...

I am delighted to discover this site. Being a live-in aunt of my three nephews is a challenge and a joy. I admire my sister's courage as a single mom, and hope to pass on some good values of my own to my nephews. And now, I can be proud to be purple. I have always loved the color purple and its symbolism. Now it is more meaningful than ever! Thank you!

Teri said...

Ms. Anonymous - No, thank YOU for that lovely comment!