Why Purple?

What’s with the color purple lately?

This is a question I’ve been pondering. It all started when I decided to let my hair go gray at the beginning of the pandemic. By May, I knew that I needed to try and ease the transition between my colored hair and my naturally dark brunette hair that was decidedly now salt and pepper. I went with highlights, a common practice for easing the transition to going gray. Obviously, I went in kind of blind because I soon found out that my hair was extremely dry from the highlights. Even though I had been having my hair colored for years, I found out that highlighting was different than an all over color. Turning to my stylist for help, she suggested a toning shampoo. I tried the L’Oreal Everpure Brass Toning Purple Shampoo product and Loreal Envive Purple conditioner. Both worked well to keep the brassiness out of my hair but it was weeks before my hair felt conditioned again. The shampoo is a deep, thick purple and the conditioner is a creamy light lilac color. Definitely, purple! And, I do like it.

Then, there is the purple mattress trend. I noticed the use of the color purple for a mattress brand from the television commercials that were running this year. To be clear, I do not have any experience with purple mattresses, nor even know very much about them. But, this company chose the color purple to represent their line of expensive mattresses. Why? I’m not sure, but I could make a guess that it has to do with what the color purple represents when people think about it. In other words, I think the color was chosen as a marketing ploy that would be highly recognizable and connote specific traits.

And, more recently, in October, when I was at my annual check up. I saw a sign in the exam room that, again, used the color purple to signify something new parents to be aware of, the period of purple crying. The word purple, in this case, is being used as an acronym to signify a period in an infant’s life when inconsolable crying takes place. It used to be called colic, and I’m sure still is by many a practitioner as old as I. As a former, pediatric nurse practitioner, who worked in primary care as well as acute and intensive care settings involving infants, I can attest that crying babies is a serious issue. A great deal of education needs to be given to new parents regarding this type of crying, regardless of what is it called. It can be frustrating, hard to manage, and even harder to understand. As a mom of three, I can relate to all of these feelings when you have a baby that cries incessantly, despite my medical knowledge. So, it is an important issue. And, again, the word purple has been chosen to signify its importance.

Why? This is the question that still comes to mind? Why purple? As a color, purple has a long history of signifying certain traits and also being associated with royalty. The traits that purple has often associated with are calmness, balance, introspection, harmony, and creativity to name a few. Purple has implied richness, bravery, and loyalty as well.

Past use of purple can be found in The Purple Hat Society for ladies over the age of 50. It encourages them to slow down and relax with a spot of tea. The color can be found in the significance of The Purple Heart award for bravery. It can be seen during the seasons of advent and lent in candles, banners and liturgical garments in the Christian faith, signifying sorrow, penitence, and preparation.

Image by Andrea Don from Pixabay

By writing this post, I realized that using purple as a color of significance in product design and/or awareness is not anything new, as I had begun to think. Purple has long had significance in our world and a variety of cultures. From the royalty and prosperity signified by the color in ancient Celts to representing power in time of Caesar’s Rome to modern day restorative practices, purple enjoys a history like no other color. In today’s world, purple certainly seems to be making comeback! If you were a designer or advertiser, which color would you choose to give your item or message significance?

Articles referenced for this piece include those noted in the highlighted text in a different color.

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