The Barbie hoopla has been fun to watch; the rethinking and recreating of who Barbie was/is/can be and the celebrating; women going together to see the movie in groups, looking glamorous, demonstrating women’s empowerment from a new angle!
Notwithstanding the positive, uplifting buzz, I felt a bit diminished when, a few nights before I was going to finally see the movie, I was instructed to wear pink.
Isn’t this movie supposed to stand for the right to do whatever we want, I wondered to myself, annoyed that a directive had been issued.
Why would I want to wear what everyone else is wearing, just to fit in?
Is not wanting to a cop out? Am I just a party pooper? Or, worse, am I getting old?
The truth is when I went into my over-filled closet and looked for something pink to wear, I didn’t find a thing.
Of course I came across a number of elegant, light pink, bordering on blush, silk tops that I wore to work with my pencil skirts and pant suits for decades, but I didn’t need to be told that wasn’t what anyone wanted to see.
Women everywhere were wearing bright, bold, Legally blond-type pink, the kind that screams from the rooftops look at me, I’m the opposite of dull, I’m expressing myself in the loudest, most vibrant way possible.
I sat down in my closet, surrounded by a lot of white, black and navy, and cried. I am my mother I thought, who never, ever wore pink. Is that so bad?
I’ve spent a life-time being colorful in my way; I’m a non-conformist in many ways, self-reliant, expressive, outspoken. I am always the first on the dance floor, encouraging others to let loose and shed their inhibitions. In my youth I wore the coolest bell bottoms and hippie outfits, often turning heads when I entered rooms. Vibrant, life-affirming, fun are all words which have been used to describe me. The last thing I am is boring or so I thought.
And yet not a wild pink outfit could not be found.
I started wondering what it meant to not have anything pink in my wardrobe. Is it a symptom of a dull existence, the very thing I have spent my life trying to avoid??
When I moved to LA, one of my employees made a toast at my goodbye party noting that the office would become black and white when I was gone.. For her and many others, it was I who brought color to many an environment.
But that was more than a decade ago.
Am I becoming less colorful as life moves on?
I took a closer look and, of course, found many attractive, elegant, mainly jewel toned items in my closet, maybe not wowza, but certainly special.
Then I took a breath and considered the very likely possibility that the thousands of women showing up decked out in pink might not have had those outfits in their closets but had purchased them for the occasion.
I breathed a sigh of relief for a moment.
But, why should I buy an outfit I thought? To show that I’m fun? Willing to be in the game? I didn’t really want to buy anything, certainly not on Amazon, and the thought of going to a mall to look for something pink didn’t sit well with me.
I am still in mourning for my mom, the ultimate wearer of all things grey, so activities that once sounded fun to me, just feel burdensome.
Maybe I was being resistant since I’ve never been a huge fan of costume or theme parties so the thought of dressing up, going out as someone else, didn’t appeal to me.
But what if I’m just not that fun-loving any more??
Lacking in spontaneity? Has my life become more limited, less entertaining? Maybe.
Then, I took a few long, slow breaths.
What is important in terms of expressing our aliveness? Our unique colors? Our vibrancy?
Is it necessary that it be seen on the outside?
Do people wearing outrageous outfits feel more alive?
Does wearing bright colors lift one’s mood, elevate one’s self esteem?
Are those people as colorful on the inside as they are on the outside?
Can’t the answers to these questions be found in the lessons from Barbie?
Shouldn’t we all be comfortable with who/what/how we want to be in the world?
If feminism can have varying interpretations can’t vibrancy and color?
What makes you feel alive may not be what makes me feel alive and vice versa.
Maybe bright colors feel safe and expressive for you and to me they feel forced and blinding.
Does it matter?
I know one thing for sure.
My inner being is far more radiant now than it was when I was rocking bright colors. I am more in touch with (and continue to learn) what delights and inspires me in my work, my relationships and my appearance.
I am living a calmer existence which may not shout fuscia or magenta, but draws me towards peace and acceptance.
When my daughter graduated from college, I turned her bedroom into a guest room. When she first saw what had once been her neon yellow room with stickers on the walls and painted blue clouds on the ceiling, she gasped with horror. Clearly “losing” the room she had grown up in was painful for her, so she hurled what was the worst insult she could at me.
“Everything is beige!”
I suppose I am moving in the direction of beige. Warm, inviting, less chaotic; cozy blanket-y.
I may prefer subdued colors but my life could never be such.
I am drawn to beauty, in all its forms.
Art, literature, theater are constant sources of color for me.
My cooking is filled with varying hues.
And I cherish and cultivate relationships of many different shapes and sizes.
The beige walls are just the backdrop to the life I am creating; one filled with depth, substance, and meaning. A vibrant life, filled with color, both bright and nuanced, painted with huge brushstrokes of love.
I resonate with the poem Color by Margaret Sangster, who knows that color is what’s in our heart.
I love color. I love flaming reds, And vivid greens, And royal flaunting purples. I love the startled rose of the sun at dawning, And the blazing orange of it at twilight. I love color. I love the drowsy blue of the fringed gentian, And the yellow of the goldenrod, And the rich russet of the leaves That turn at autumn-time.... I love rainbows, And prisms, And the tinsel glitter Of every shop-window. I love color. And yet today, I saw a brown little bird Perched on the dull-gray fence Of a weed-filled city yard. And as I watched him The little bird Threw back his head Defiantly, almost, And sang a song That was full of gay ripples, And poignant sweetness, And half-hidden melody. I love color.... I love crimson, and azure, And the glowing purity of white. And yet today, I saw a living bit of brown, A vague oasis on a streak of gray, That brought heaven Very near to me.
Addendum: I went to order my new walking shoes last night and the black ones were out of stock. Much to my own surprise, I clicked on a pay of bright blue ones, with a pink streak across the side.
Staying open makes us more alive!
Give it a go.
With love and light,