The Privilege of Purple

I’m sitting under a blanket on a purple love seat. A purple anything is a luxury, a privilege, the freedom to be able to purchase an object in a color that is conspicuous, that is difficult to match to the many objects created from the intention of easy coordination.

I am from a place of brown wall-to-wall carpets, brown sofas and chairs and tables, beige walls. Many years ago, I would only buy brown and black shoes, one pair in each neutral, and coordinating brown and black purses. Brown and black slacks and skirts for work. Everything went with either brown or black in that world. One pair of sneakers, preferably white or white with minimal accents of navy blue; a couple pair of medium-blue jeans.

I remember walking through a fancy mall many years ago–the one on the other side of town with the department stores that sold stuff way out of my price range–and seeing a young woman close to my age wearing a smooth, thin leather jacket and thinking what a waste of money, that can’t possibly keep her warm.

And now I’m a person who owns a thin leather jacket, shoes and purses in a rainbow of colors, a purple loveseat.

Loveseat is a cute term for small sofa. Sometimes small is all one has space for, and it’s true that the room I originally bought this couch for was tight, but the house that contained it had plenty of room for us all. The first few times I walked through the mall near that house wearing my typical jeans and t-shirt and old sneakers with my basic brown purse slung over my shoulder, I felt eyes on me, calculations being made. I learned over time how to dress the part, how to worry less about basics and focus more on flash, those power colors that would help me make a strong statement in my new environment.

Purple is a perfectly good color, and it’s always been my favorite. I treasure my little purple couch, where I often sit to read and to write. But it’s important for me to remember that time when more practical colors were all I could afford to spend my money on and that feeling of eyes following every move of that drabber version of me who appeared she was in a place she didn’t belong.

One thought on “The Privilege of Purple

  1. Beautiful. Purple is royal, commanding attention. It stands up among other colors, has a distinctly different aura. Such a good color to counterbalance brown; purple-brown combos remind me of the 1970s. Earthy, groovy, unconventional.

    Your piece makes me think a lot about how we represent ourselves based on someone else’s comfort level.

    I’m glad you found your hue.

    Liked by 1 person

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