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Mauve and Feminism: Between Fashion, Symbolism and a Touch of Mystery

It's already March and in Mexico City even the trees are feminist, don't you love the Jacaranda season? The best thing is that it is also feminism month.

Feminism isn't limited to a single month, of course, but it's especially prominent during what we call Women's Month. This is largely because on March 8 we commemorate International Women's Day, and on that date, we, women around the world, take to the streets to raise our voices. We demand equal rights, fairness at work, shared parenting responsibilities, equal pay for equal work, and, sadly, in Mexico and many other parts of the world, we also demand the right to live safely and without fear.

The choice of March 8 as International Women's Day dates back to its origins in the labor and feminist movements of the 20th century. The date commemorates a specific event that occurred in 1908, when a group of women textile workers went on strike in New York, demanding better working conditions, reduced hours, and voting rights.

A female hand wears a pair of stacked rings, one of them has two soldered circles of different sizes, the other just one, both with translucent purple resin.
Bubbles Ring. Unique piece. Dikua Jewelry ©

Mauve, the color of feminism.

The choice of the color purple, or in particular, one of its shades, mauve, is linked to the history of feminism and specifically to the fight for women's right to vote. During the suffrage movement in the first half of the 20th century, the color purple became a symbol associated with the feminist cause and women's activism.

The choice of purple as the emblematic color of feminism is related to the symbolism attributed to this color. In the 1900s, suffragettes in the United States and elsewhere adopted specific colors to represent their movement. Purple joined white and gold as the colors of the suffragettes, creating the characteristic triad. Purple symbolizes loyalty, dignity, and unity in the fight for voting rights and gender equality.

The connection of the color purple with feminism persists to this day, and it is common to see it associated with events and activities related to the defense of women's rights. Fashion and color symbolism played an important role in the visual expression of the suffrage movement, and the choice of purple as the emblematic color remains a significant part of feminist iconography.

Many large round resin earrings in mauve are randomly spread at a white surface background
Large Resin Earrings in Mauve. Made one by one by hand Dikua Jewelry ©

Mauve Fashion at the Time: An Encounter with Aniline

To understand the link between mauve and feminism, we go back to the discovery of aniline in 1859. This discovery marked a milestone in fashion history, releasing a dyes palette of colors previously unattainable. Among them, mauve stood out, elegantly slipping into the fashion of the time.

Aniline democratized bright colors in clothing, allowing women from various social strata to experiment with a wider range of hues. Mauve, with its mix of red and blue, enchanted designers and fashion lovers, becoming a symbol of elegance and distinction.

Two Hypotheses for the Color of Feminism: Symbolism or Democratic Women's Fashion?

  • Democratic Women's Fashion Hypothesis: Mauve was the fashionable color from the emergence of aniline until the beginning of the 20th century and the feminists of that time were not immune to it. Aniline not only launched mauve to stardom but also democratized women's fashion. Once reserved for the nobility and aristocracy, mauve became affordable for women of all social strata due to its low cost. It could have become the color of feminism not only because it was distinctive, but because it represented the female majority, being used by women of various social levels.

  • Triad Symbolism Hypothesis: Another perspective suggests that the choice of mauve, along with white and gold, had more to do with the symbolic load of each color. Purple represented loyalty, white for purity, and gold for victory. These elements formed a triad of powerful meanings that strengthened the visual identity of the suffrage movement.

A pair of rings rest on a gray book, one of them has two soldered circles of different sizes, another just one, both with translucent purple resin.
Bubbles Ring. Unique piece. Dikua Jewelry ©

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Tragedy and the Purple Smoke Hypotheses:

The tragedy at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York in 1911 was a turning point in the history of feminism. An intriguing urban legend has been woven suggesting that the smoke rising from the factory during the fire was purple, perhaps due to the presence of aniline or other chemical compounds. However, so far, this story remains more of a symbolic narrative than a verifiable fact.

The reality is that the smoke generated during a fire generally acquires dark tones due to the combustion of materials. Smoke colors are more related to the composition of the burned objects than to specific chemicals. In general, dark fumes are common in industrial fires due to the diversity of combustible materials present, so it is implausible that aniline or any other chemical compound in the factory would have colored the smoke so distinctively. More likely, the legend of purple smoke could have arisen as a visual expression of tragedy, a way to symbolize loss and suffering.

March: The Month of Feminism and Jacarandas in Mexico City

In this month, when the city turns mauve thanks to the Jacarandas, it is timely to remember why March is considered the month of feminism. Although the direct relationship between the color mauve and the feminist struggle persists as a mystery, it is undeniable that this month invites us to spread the history, meaning, and importance of the feminist movement.

A female hand wears a ring with a round cabochon purple sapphire stone set atop a thick, flat ring.
Sapphire Ring. Unique piece. Dikua Jewelry ©

The Birth of the Suffragette Movement: When Women Marched for Their Vote

Simultaneously with the tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, there were already organized women's groups fighting to obtain the female vote. The suffrage movement, which sought the right to vote for women, had gained strength. But it was on March 8, 1908, when history recorded the first women's march in New York, demanding fair working conditions and political rights.

This milestone marked the beginning of a mobilization that would burn like a flame in the history of feminism. Women, united by the common cause, walked together, charting the path for future generations of fighters for gender equality. The misfortune of the fire not only burned the suffrage movement; It also fanned the flame of resistance, solidifying the importance of the date of March 8 in the collective memory of women around the world.

Mauve as a Witness of Time and Resistance

As we explore the enigma of mauve in the history of feminism, we see how colors can become bearers of meaning, silent narrators of struggles and victories. Whether it is democratic women's fashion, the symbolism of the triad or the legend of purple smoke, mauve persists as a witness to time and a reminder of resistance and the search for equality.

This color, rooted in the elegance of fashion and the depth of dyes, continues to weave its story, reminding us that sometimes, behind every nuance, lies a fight for freedom and equality. Mauve, in its essence, transcends clothing to become an emblem of perseverance and change, a mark of women who challenged norms and left their mark on the palette of time.

Feminism far beyond color, is a fight for equality

Feminism is not just a color on the palette, but a powerful voice that seeks gender equality in all areas. We march on March 8 not only for the mauve in our lives, but for the justice, freedom, and equity that we all deserve. Thus, mauve becomes a symbol not only of fashion but of a shared history of resistance and hope.

The German girl power logo depicting a woman's fist surrounded by a circle, in lilac against a dark purple background.
Womanpower logo.Jpg. In Wikipedia.

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