July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

As a man, I don’t know a whole lot of colors. I know what ROY G. BIV stands for, though I have no idea what indigo is, and I even know a few colors besides those—black, white, grey, pink, brown and a large number of colors that I classify as “beige.” And that’s about it.

Yes, I’m always trying to learn new things, but those things are not new colors. My wife and I have an arrangement where each of us has our own departments that we worry about, and worrying about the other 890 colors is her department. I find that my not caring about colors leads to fewer arguments.

So as you can imagine, I was pretty surprised when I read a recent UK Telegraph article that said that several men’s prisons in Switzerland are painting their jail cells pink.

Now, I don’t think this is on request. It turns out, according to officials, that the government actually did this as part of a project called “Cool Down Pink.” Because sometimes prisoners misbehave. They figure, “What are the cops gonna do to me? I’m already in jail! They can’t put me further into jail!” But the truth is they can. They put the prisoners in solitary confinement in one of these pink rooms, and apparently it calms them down.

As it turns out, different colors have different psychological effects, and interior decorators are always using those effects in specific rooms. For example, red is a bold color that inspires action, energy and high blood pressure. It also draws people together and stimulates conversation. This is why people tend to gather around red lights and exchange constructive ideas in the form of honking.

Blue, meanwhile, lowers blood pressure and inspires trust, loyalty, creativity, intelligence and, for some reason, decreased appetite. This is why very few foods are blue, and very few foods come in blue packaging. Besides milchigs.

Scientists say that this psychological color spectrum is how each of us picks a favorite color—it’s the one that we most like how it makes us feel. Though that’s not entirely true. When I was a kid, my favorite color was purple, because it represented grape. I went mostly by flavor. Whereas now, as a parent, I pick colors mostly around which ones are least likely to stain. So purple is out.

Personally, I think decorators might be taking it too far. It’s great that colors affect moods, but it’s not like you’re coming into rooms and staring at the walls. You have things to do. Unless you’re in prison.

But my question is that according to my research, several colors would work to calm inmates down—blue is relaxing, yellow is happy and green is restful. So that can’t be the whole reason they picked pink.

And pink has negative aspects, too. If you offer someone a piece of chicken, and it’s pink inside, they don’t go, “Oh, I’m all calm now.” No, they yell, “Throw it back on the fire! Kill whatever’s on it!”

Why pink? Isn’t it a girls’ color?

Well, it wasn’t always. In the old days, boys wore pink and girls wore blue. If you need proof, just look at any black and white picture. Do you see how they’re not smiling? Now you know why. All of the boys look like their mothers washed their whites in the colored load. And that takes talent, because they used to do laundry in a river.

“Don’t worry; the water’s cold.”

Originally, boys and girls actually wore the same color, but then manufacturers realized they can get parents to buy an entire second wardrobe of baby clothes if they said each gender had to wear their own color. In fact, before that, both genders wore skirts until they were six. Like in the famous picture of FDR where he has long hair and is wearing a dress.

So maybe the Swiss did it for the same reason as a prison in Texas, which, in 2006, decided to dress all their prisoners in pink jumpsuits.

In most prisons, inmates don’t wear pink jumpsuits. They do wear jumpsuits, because it decreases their movement, because every time they raise their arms, their pants legs go up and also because it’s hard to hide contraband in a onesie. But the colors they wear are generally more along the lines of orange, which represents being visible from space.

And no—no one wears black and white stripes anymore, despite what the Purim costume store will have you believe. In the old days, prisoners wore black and white stripes, like zebras, so that if they escaped, they would be eaten by lions. Nowadays there are fewer lions, so it’s more important that the guards be able to spot them. Hence orange.

So orange is embarrassing enough. But the jail in Texas made their inmates wear pink to embarrass them even more and discourage them from committing crimes in the future. Pink is the color of embarrassment. That’s why your face turns pink.

What happened next was even more embarrassing. Someone put the jumpsuits in the laundry, and the color bled all over the prisoners’ underwear and their bed sheets, and before long, everything was pink. This is what happens when laundry is being done in a men’s prison.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has four books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

By Mordechai Schmutter

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