Color wars

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By Jaime Sughroue, Opinion Editor

I apologize, Aerosmith, but pink is not my favorite color. My name, Jamie, is gender-neutral. For all you know, I may be a man or a woman. I’ve always been comfortable with this, and in fact, I’ve preferred it. When I’m represented by this innocuous name, there are no stereotypes associated with it, no burdensome expectations and sex-related norms to deal with.

Colors, on the other hand, are saturated with socially constructed ideas of what they represent. Sweet, saccharine pink is imbued with those adjectives. No more is it merely a hue of red. No, instead it’s been weighed down by association with all things “girly.”

When’s the last time you’ve visited a big-box retailer’s toy department? Maybe you passed through looking for a toy car for your nephew or a hula-hoop for your little sister. You knew exactly where to look for those respective items based upon gender stereotypes.

Looking for a toy car for your nephew? Head to the cool-toned aisles, blues, green, blacks, and grays dominating their color scheme, a plethora of trucks, guns, tools and action figures perched on the shelves.

And that hula-hoop for your sister? Again, pink is the chosen color. Yellow, orange, and occasionally red pop up in the warmer-toned aisles, but cotton candy pink is the queen color.

When did we start segregating the boys and the girls, using color as the dividing line? The toy department, in this specific example, has become a gendered war zone. What are we doing to that eight-year-old girl who wants a fire truck but may not even make it to that aisle because it’s parked in the “boy zone?”

I’m sure people may qualify this argument as another of those “you’re making too big a deal out of this,” but to me, a color should just be a color. It all comes down to choice, and to being allowed to decide for yourself what suits you, not having a corporation and society impose their opinions on you.

The retail industry operates on that notion. That’s its job, to market to a general public, and they have many specialized marketing departments making that happen. It’s our job, as consumers, to make prudent, economical monetary decisions and decisively show the retailers what we would like them to sell.

Stop buying hot pink sweatpants with ridiculous words written across the rear end if that’s not what you want to see hanging in the apparel section. Leave the camouflage coffee mug sitting on the shelf.

Buy what you like and what you need, but keep in mind that your purchases are influential. There’s a cause and effect pattern to what comes in and out of the distribution center. The color of an object should only matter is you prefer that color. No one else should be dictating that choice for you.

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