WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?
What’s your favorite color? It’s a question we’re often asked. Have you always liked the same color, or has it changed over time?
When I was a girl, I think I liked pink. At least, I remember that I had a pink blanket I was fond of. My sister liked yellow,
and my mom liked blue, so I liked pink. I couldn’t like green because my mom made it very clear that she didn’t like green.
But then, in the 1990s, lime green made an appearance. And I was hooked! I like how lively it is, and it looks really good on me.
I’ve worn it ever since. And I’m grateful that the color has stuck around because it’s not leaving my wardrobe anytime soon,
no matter what the next fashion trends say about it.
Green as a color has a most unusual history. Early humans did not use the color green in their drawings, perhaps because
there was so much green in nature all around them? Some suggest that the ancient Greeks didn’t see the color green;
others suggest the Greeks didn’t bother to name colors that appear in nature—like green and blue. To them, a “true” or
“real” color was a manufactured one. And while the Romans had no trouble naming the color green, they rarely painted
everyday objects green. No one seemed to know what to do with green.
Green has continued to be both valued and dismissed, favored and reviled. During chivalrous times, green was a positive
color, associated with beauty, gaiety, and hope. It has long been the color of spring, of that which is fresh and new. But
it also developed associations with the Devil, witches, and poison. At the end of the Middle Ages, church officials declared
some colors to be honest and some not, and green fell in the latter category, perhaps because by combining yellows and
blues, different shades of green emerge. So sometimes green was considered to be a secondary and false color and
sometimes it was elevated to a color in its own right, a sign of stability and moderation.
It’s hard to escape binaries, even with colors. Is green good or bad? Up there with God or down below with the Devil?
What associations come to mind when you think of green? There’s Robin Hood, the good guy wearing forest green. We all
put on the green on St. Patrick’s Day and pretend to be Irish. And what about the little green beings that descend from
alien space ships and faraway worlds? Why green?
So the next time someone asks you, “What’s your favorite color,” think about all that means and what it means to you.
And whatever color it is, make it your own!
 Much of these green “facts” come from Michael Pastoureau, Green: The History of a Color (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 2013).