When it comes to clothing-related support of issues, it’s clear that words speak much louder than actions.
As my wife can attest, I have a hard enough time matching my wardrobe to itself, much less having to match it to my beliefs. So today, on the Day of Pink, I wore black and khaki (or green or beige* pants). But that doesn’t mean I don’t support the cause wholeheartedly. I just pulled a shirt out of my closet to match my pants – not my mood.
* I think they’re khaki-esque. My wife would probably say they’re green, but I think they’re more beige in nature. It all comes back to my belief that there are only 11 colours (red, pink, blue, yellow, orange, green, purple, black, brown, grey, and white – and yes, I know black and white aren’t actual colours). All the rest are just shades of the above. Cyan? Chartreuse? Turquoise? You’re all just out there to confuse me – and to make painting more difficult than it needs to be: “White? No, that’s not white. It’s eggshell/pearl/off-white/ivory.” Whatever.
So we’ve got pink for anti-bullying, but I’ve also associated pink with breast cancer. Blue is for autism, right? Purple equals support of gay people. Red for heart disease. It can get confusing. (Click here for a pretty comprehensive list matching colours to causes).
Somehow, I missed that it was Pink Day. In fact, most people with whom I spoke were not aware. Would I have worn pink today? Probably — I did yesterday. But there’s a danger to colour-coded days. It’s not the end of the world, but some people aren’t comfortable wearing their hearts — and their beliefs on their sleeves (or as their sleeves). On the other hand, if you happen not to wear the colour of the day, does that mean you don’t support the cause?
Those are minor concerns. The major issue? Wearing a shirt, or even posting a Facebook status update, are fairly empty displays of support. And, in many ways, they can serve as a panacea for those who now think they’re actually doing some good.
Yes, it’s great that you’re showing your support for a cause. What would be a better sign of support is taking that $20 you spent on a shirt and donating it directly to the organization in question.
Or instead of spending five seconds clicking a Facebook update, perhaps your time and effort would be better spent donating an hour or two of your time to help these chronically underfunded and understaffed benevolent organizations.
In the end, it’s all harmless fun. But like the ribbons before them, there are so many colour-coded days and events that they’ve been rendered meaningless. As well, by giving people a false sense of impact, these organizations are compromising their activities by allowing people to substitute a feeling of showing support for actually showing support.
And, most importantly, it’s making it tougher for those of us who have a hard enough time matching our clothes at the best of time.