Posted by Angie Luvara, THE BAHAMAS -- I recently managed to knock off quite a few “firsts” on my list of life experiences. I used a passport for the first time. I went through customs for the first time. I was asked to fill out an emergency contact card for the first time before boarding a plane (which somehow did not make me feel more safe!) I flew over an ocean for the first time, and I landed in the beautiful Bahamas for the first time.
From the moment I saw the hot pink wall in the middle of the airport, complete with a row of pink telephones to match, I felt instantly at home in this very foreign land. I’ve always had a penchant for bright colors, which is surprising since I grew up in a house with a mother who paints and repaints walls various shades of white every few years—and eggshell when she feels a little adventurous. As I am typing this, I’m glancing at one of my favorite photos of myself, which was taken on Halloween when I was in the 4th grade. This was the first year my mother allowed me to decide what my costume would be without her input. I’m not sure what I claimed to be dressing up as, but I used this opportunity to wear every bright article of clothing that my mother normally wouldn’t let me out of the house in—lime green scrunch socks, hot pink leggings, a purple skirt, a lime green shirt, and as many pink and purple necklaces and bracelets as I could fit on my neck and wrists.
At ten years old, utilizing one holiday reserved for playing dress up, I got to dress exactly how I wished I could every single day. My neutral-sheltered ten year-old mind never would have guessed that just a short hop over the ocean—in the same time zone—I could find an entire country full of houses painted every bright color imaginable. At 28 years old, I could barely believe that all the government buildings in the Bahamas are painted my favorite color—hot pink. Inspired, I came home and went to the nearest home improvement store to purchase a few cans of bright spray paint to coat my bookshelves in the colors of the Bahamas. Snapped back into an American reality, I found myself standing in the middle of the spray paint section surrounded by every imaginable shade of neutral grays, greens, browns, and blues one could ever conceive. Why is it that Americans are so drawn to neutrals, while our tropical neighbors utilize such bright colors? Why is it that the very same colors that my mom deemed too “wild” to wear at any time other than when I was playing “dress up” were the very same colors found on official government buildings in the Bahamas? And perhaps the most important question of all—what do we need to do to get our fellow Americans to lighten…no, brighten up?
Angie Luvara is a photographer and Managing Editor of Social Shutter. She is also a new Doctoral student in Sociology at Georgia State University. To view more of her photography, go to her blog at http://www.LuvisMyAmmo.com/blog.