Friday, March 18, 2011

Flamingo Friday: All the Colors

It’s been a few months since this incident, but it’s stuck with me:

I was taking photos of the flamingos, as is my wont, and about four or five teenagers, boys and girls, came up. “Oh, look at all the colors!” one of the girls exclaimed, impressed, as she studied the birds.

“What do you mean, ‘all the colors’? They’re pink,” one of the boys scoffed—and the others picked up on it, until all of them were saying, “All the colors! —It’s pink!” and snorting with laughter.

And the girl was embarrassed, although, since the kids’ interactions were all a little flirty, she took it in stride—but you could also tell that she felt a little bad for saying what she’d said, that she felt kind of silly, or stupid, or wrong.

That’s a real shame—first, because I think it's an example of the unfortunate consequences of certain gender and group dynamics—but also because she was so right: the flamingos are all kinds of different colors, from the peach-tangerine on their heads to the delicate, cherry-blossom rose on their under-feathers, from the shocking neon-pink undersides they show in mating season to the black of their inner wings and the yellow of their eyes. Anyone who doesn’t notice that, or who acts as if real, live flamingos are the same as those plastic ornaments sticking up in front lawns, simply isn’t looking at all.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Anca said...

They're magnificent in all their colors, and the kids who made fun should have been pushed into the lions' enclosure (just kidding. . . well, sort of).

Anonymous said...

Indeed, and you capture their colorfulness well! I think it is partly gender conditioning and also partly the unfortunate cultural trend toward, er, black or white thinking that made the boys unable to see what she saw. Sadly, she was being told, as so many of us are, that she should see flamingos in black and white and not in color. Bah!


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