Ultra violet is Pantone’s color of the year and connected to women’s, LGBTQ issues
Pantone unveiled its 2018 color of the year Thursday, and the choice strongly hinted at a call for activism and action.
The company chose a deep shade of purple known as Pantone 18-3838, or “ultra violet,” and although it didn’t directly call out the current political climate, the color comes loaded with meaning.
Pantone hailed the color choice for its spirituality and connection to the cosmos, along with its symbolism of counterculture and unconventionality. But the color goes even further with its ties to women’s suffrage movements and LGBTQ rights. This isn’t just any shade of purple.
Suffragettes were known for the purple on their sashes and the fight for LGBTQ equality has been using purple in campaigns over the years. An entire women’s rights advocacy group, UltraViolet, borrows the associations of the color with women’s and LGBTQ rights movements.
“The color has a lot of resonance now.”
Karin Rowland, chief campaigns officer for UltraViolet, said in a phone call Thursday that Pantone’s choice is more than timely.
“The color has a lot of resonance now,” she said, referring to the fight for women’s equality and issues about sexual assault and harassment.
Before Fox News fired longtime host Bill O’Reilly earlier this year, the group protested at company headquarters. The demonstrators’ signs included the signature ultra violet hue — highlighting the word “sexual predator.”
Within the LGBTQ community, purple or lavender is significant. It’s used in literature, pop culture, and throughout communication networks.
The since-closed Ultra Violet Book Cafe in Johannesburg, South Africa, served as a hub for the gay community there and was the first LGBT bookstore in South Africa. A newsletter for lesbian and gay liberationists was named “UltraViolet.” The newsletter’s website says “UltraViolet” was chosen because it’s “the invisible fringe of the rainbow.”
“It exposes things you wouldn’t normally be able to see under normal light.”
Women’s suffrage movements in the early 1900s used the vibrant color in logos and banners. The National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C., has written about the significance and pervasiveness of purple in the movement.
Purple outfits were “worn by groups of women to make a visual impact and a political statement” and purple, along with white and gold, became associated with the suffragettes. One issue of the Suffragist from 1913 noted the significance of the color: “Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause.”
With the #MeToo movement and the growing lists of women speaking out about sexual abuse and harassment from powerful men, it seems more than fitting that ultra violet is the color of 2018. Its scientific properties are also symbolic. As Rowland from UltraViolet explained, “It exposes things you wouldn’t normally be able to see under normal light.”
Laurie Pressman from the Pantone Color Institute summed it up best, “It’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today.”