Hey, Boulder: You’re cute!
I saw you hiking Mount Sanitas with your dog. That was cute. Bobbing your head with your headphones on at the bus stop. Also cute. Running across the grass to hug your friend? Super cute!
Someone told me I looked cute in a dress last week, and it felt good, so here I am trying to pay it forward. Not long ago, however, I would have interpreted “cute” as a kind of backhanded compliment. I didn’t want to be cute. I wanted to be cool or beautiful, or at the very least someone who isn’t to be trifled with. (Rude people and my own insecurities would tell me I’m ripe for trifling, but they can keep that hot take to themselves.)
The dress in question — covered in hearts and smiling octopuses — is unquestionably cute. In fact, it verges on adorable. It was given to me as a present from a woman whose fashion sense I have always admired, but I have to confess, I felt awkward trying it on for the first time.
It wasn’t just that I lacked the confidence to pull off such a bold, cephalopod-centric look. It was because this dress is covered in pink and red — colors I never wear.
That’s right, I’m a big ol’ bigot when it comes to the warm end of the spectrum. I really don’t like red or its watered-down cousin, pink. Red is the shade of all kinds of nasty things: anger, violence, periods, stoplights, errors on homework. Red means your Xbox died, that black widow is venomous or the driver of that fancy car is going through a mid-life crisis. Why would I want to look at that color, let alone wear it?
You may note at this point that I have a very weird hang-up and I shouldn’t waste my mental energy wigging out over an innocent color. You’re absolutely right. (And cute. Don’t forget.)
The real reason I don’t like red and pink is that at some point in my childhood, I got it into my mind that they were girly colors and that girly things are bad. On the surface, I’ve always known girls are just as good as boys and no color belongs to any gender, but my subconscious has picked up sneaky biases from the culture I grew up in. It’s no fun acknowledging I’ve been brainwashed, and the deprogramming work is hard and slow.
The more I unlearn BS about the value of femininity, the more I can enjoy pleasures I’ve spurned like makeup and pretty flowers. Of course, there’s more to red and pink than roses and lipstick. They’re the colors of stunning sunsets, delicious fruits and magnificent baboon butts. They’re cool and beautiful, as well as cute.
And as it turns out, cute is a pretty great thing to be.