Sometimes the Only Color You Need Is Black
I was 14 when it moved something in me. Not the absence of color, but of light.
I grew up with an overprotective mother . Like most children in my situation, I ended up fearful, shy, and completely underprepared for what life had in store.
Year after year, I would have to be increasingly successful in school. I was allowed to play only in front of the house, while there was still light outside, and I had to follow whatever rules adults made up.
I can only assume that I had to be overly polite to neighbors, teachers, and basically every human being in sight, just to show that I received a proper education at home. But I was ok with all that. Until one day.
I was 14 and my mom was still the one to pick out my clothes. I had almost no say, except for some minor details, which I, of course, cherished as big wins. My most ardent desire at that time was to have some black in my wardrobe. Anything.
Every time I would ask for a black T-shirt or a black skirt, my mother would say, “Again?”. And my wardrobe would continue to be black-free, like a rainbow unicorn had just vomited on me. Why? Because “black is not suitable for children” , of course. Now say it again, but slowly. Black. Not suitable. Children. I was 14.
I was 14 when my grandfather died. We were very close and his death came so suddenly that it left us all in shock. Heart attacks tend to do that, but more so when there is no medical history. In all the haste of funeral preparations, my mother suddenly realized I had no black clothes to wear. I wonder why. Probably my fault.
So, like magic, a tiny black sweater appeared. I had to pair it with the darkest blue jeans I could find in my wardrobe and the darkest jacket that would not scream “joy”. It was teal. A beautiful teal that would make my eyes pop. There, by his coffin, stood his only grandchild that he had loved so dearly, a teal spot in a sea of blackness and pain, all eyes on her.
What tears me up even now, over 20 years later, is the fact that I could not cry that day. I was deeply saddened to see him go so soon and without a proper goodbye. But, at the same time, I finally had a black piece of clothing. One that I kept wearing for years and years even as I clearly outgrew it.
I lost something so precious that day and this pathetic “win” clouded it. But it also moved something in me that would not be put back into place. I was 14 when I started to voice my opinion, to make choices and decisions, and to stand by them. I drew my power from death, love, shame, and my one and only beloved color — black.
1. Overprotective parents in a nutshell
This parenting style relies heavily on a reward system. Sometimes on a punishment system as well, even if overprotective parents are not “bad”. In fact, this glass bell they weave around their children is born out of too much love and fear. Maybe some pride in their achievements as well.
The truth is overprotective parents are anxious, and they transfer that anxiety to their children. It all snowballs until one of the leaves of the genealogical tree is blown in the general direction of professional help.
One of the things that professional help might tell them is to switch to an authoritative parenting style. They will continue to have high expectations but will learn to react within reason and communicate openly. This way, their children will get the chance to think, speak, and act for themselves. Hell, they might even become happy and successful.
2. Fun facts on how we perceive colors
Far from synesthesia, it’s no secret that we associate basic tastes and emotions with specific colors. Sweet is usually associated with pink or red, sour with green or yellow, bitter with black or purple, and salty with white or blue.
The most prominent color-emotion pairs are:
- Red with anger and love
- Orange and yellow with joy and amusement
- Blue and white with relief
- Pink with pleasure, love, and joy
- Brown with disgust
- Grey and black with sadness, regret, and disappointment
Black is also sexy, elegant, mysterious, versatile, poetic… and slimming. It is not the absence of color, but of light. Black is what you get when you combine all colors. Sometimes that is the only color you need.