Saturday, January 12, 2013

Color and Sensuality: A Different Kind of Color-Struck

Back in the 70s, neither condoms nor dildoes came in so many pretty colors. Flavors, maybe. But colors? Not so much. But then, today and always, colors and their influence in the world we call home, continue their complex shaping of the way we live our lives.

What do I mean? Well, take for example, the movement to fight breast cancer. By now, most of us are familiar with the breast cancer prevention movement’s use of the color pink as a binding force for its fundraising and awareness campaigns, thanks to a savvy dedicated marketing effort that’s been highly successful. Pink ribbons, pink bras, pink accoutrements of every kind pervade our daily lives in the service of this very important cause. As a matter of fact, as I write this post, my favorite pink-over-stainless-steel drinking mug, embossed with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s pink ribbon, sits where I can reach it on the desk beside my keyboard. 

Long considered a color connoting the delicate, and some might say ineffectual, lady-like essence of frail femininity, in the fight against breast cancer, pink has morphed, almost before our eyes, into a color connoting power, solidarity, bravery in the face of the scariest of odds, and warrior-women’s hopes. And yes, in case you were wondering, there really are breast cancer themed pink glass dildoes!

In much the same way, activists in the battle against ovarian cancer, another killer of women, have claimed the color teal, which is a vibrant hybrid of blue and green, as their signifying hue. A stealthy disease that’s diagnosed in over 22,000 US women annually, ovarian cancer is often overlooked or misdiagnosed until it’s too late. In this sobering context, teal is an interesting choice; since according to many experts who study the psychosocial significances of color in our world, teal’s vibrant mix of bright blue and green denotes coolness and consistency, sensitivity, faith and trust.

So much for pink and teal, and we all know the connection between yellow as a color signifier and the longing for loved ones who are missing (remember the old Tie a Yellow Ribbon ’Round the Old Oak Tree?), and blue as a signifier of sadness and despair. Of course, if we had all day, the list might go on and on. And while we’re on the subject, we’d do well to remember that much of what we’re talking about is culturally situated. For example, a very dear friend of mine, now deceased, had stories aplenty about the spiritual meanings of the color blue in what she called her native Persia.    

But in the world of color significances, none are so rooted at the nexus of desire, sexuality and biological evolution as the color red. Of course, I’d venture that this comes as no real surprise to anyone. After all, most of us have at least heard of the fabled “red light districts” usually located in urban areas associated with prostitution. And what about the seductive allure of red lipstick and the rich, ripe promise of a well-developed strawberry?

Along those lines, a recent study out of the University of Rochester suggests that straight women who want to attract more sexual attention from prospective partners might start by wearing the color red.

According to the study by Andrew Elliot, Ph.D., there’s a correlation between the color red and men’s perception of the sexual attractiveness of women who wear it. Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the study suggests that men would also spend more time on a date with women who were in red. 

In the study’s protocol, about 150 heterosexual men rated photos of women framed in red, white, grey, green or blue, with the woman in the photo wearing a red or blue shirt. On a 7- point scale with 1 being the least sexy and 7 being a sizzling sex-goddess, the color red added about 1.25 points to the rating. Results of the study indicated that men were also more likely to say they wanted to have sex with women who were wearing red.

There are a number of theories that explain why the color red is considered so sexy. For example, the color is a widely accepted symbol of romance that’s associated with such cultural mainstays as hearts and Valentine’s Day. From a more bio-evolutionary perspective, though, some biologists believe it’s possible that human males have some segment deep in the brain that recognizes red as a mating symbol, since some primates still have body parts that turn red during ovulation, and back in the dawn of history, the bodies of women who could still get pregnant (and further a man’s gene pool) advertised that fact by bleeding red blood every 28 days. Further, there’s a school of anthropological thought suggesting that men prefer red lipstick for that same reason, even today. 

So... Red lips... Menstrual blood... The promise of fertility and many babies?... Really? 

Yes, really.

Interestingly enough, though, the presence of the color red doesn’t seem to affect men’s perception of a woman’s intelligence, likeability or personality, which some might argue are the qualities that make a person truly sexy, when everything's said and done. And of course, I’d like to know how my lesbian friends feel about this whole red thing as well.

An earlier post (see 11/12/12 Scented) talked about feelings of “invisibility” experienced by untold numbers of postmenopausal women who remain as vibrant, attractive and confident in their sexuality as they ever were, and yet notice a marked decrease in the level of attention they receive from prospective male partners the older they get. While the reasons and remedies concerning this phenomenon are complex, spicing up one’s wardrobe with a touch of red can’t hurt. 

Besides, as colors go, whether we’re talking condoms, dildoes, or dressing one’s self up for a night on the town, as a treat for the eye, an infusion of pure adrenalin for the soul, red’s awesome, pure and simple. 

Do you agree? How colorful is your approach to exploring your sexuality? 

Photo Credit href="">raulmahon</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>


  1. Yea for color!!!!! Mix it up, enjoy and explore!!There is nothing more exciting that to explore options, especially colorful ones!! I have been a fan for quite some time and will continue to be!!

  2. Variety is nice especially when your partner also enjoys it. Not only color but size and shape and vibration speeds. Oh yeah

  3. I think color is very important in more ways than one. The first thing that draws a person to another is how they look. Another thing that also makes a difference is how they dress, and how there clothes look on them. But thinking back on my first date with the love of my life. When she came to the door she had this beautiful red dress, and I was hooked. Matter of a fact we talked about our first date with her son. We both smile when we remember that first date, and the famous red dress. I think I will buy her a new one. Oh yea !

  4. Very informative, and in the words of Johnny Gil, "Put on that red dress and those high highs and some of that sweet perfume", wowwww the game is stacked against us men, I see now that I didn't stand a chance from the moment I saw my wife (In that red dress)... We may just have to have a back down memory lane night, red dress, high heels, and perfume and all.

  5. Red and black is my favorite colors. I just don't wear enough of red. I am getting me something red and sexy very soon. I want my man to wowed by red dress and knock his socks off. Oh yea! Valentines Day is right around the corner :)

  6. really not into toys just want that moment when she just look at me and jump all over me jsut because its simply me.

  7. I do agree with color!. I believe overtime the inventions of new toys, dildos, condoms have spiced up many bedrooms. I am an African American female and who has never been with someone outside my race I think a vanilla dildo could be my first approach for stepping outside my box if I decided to do so.

  8. I must say, I totally agree. I think colors broden your horizons in the bedroom. Sometimes it's great to bring in some playful, colorful toys inside the bedroom. To me, it keeps the relationship spiced up instead of just the old burned out way. Colors just make it more interesting especially if you have different colors to choose from. Perhaps a different color each week. It kinda makes you look forward to having sex.