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    ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: Meaning And Significance Of The Colors Worn By Gilead Women

    In the acclaimed Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale,’ the colors decided for the women’s garments hold far deeper significance than mere fashion choices. The hue of their drape is one of the most important aspects of the show and is easily one of the most recognizable as well. June Osborne once said, “If they didn’t want us to be an army, they should never have given her uniforms.” 

    Even though the women in the show are silenced, the color staining their wardrobes speaks volumes. They draw that line of demeaning between them signifying what role they play in the puppet show of Gilead which unsurprisingly only has the color scheme for women. 

    Related: Why Did ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Get Banned?

    Crimson Red Worn By The Handmaids

    A still from 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Image: Hulu)
    A still from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (Image: Hulu)

    Despite a million opinions out there on the internet, mine stands as strong as the stick of Gilead. The Handmaids are the backbone of this godforsaken communist country and if they were to disappear, it would crumble in a matter of weeks. Take away the wives and what do you get? One less faction to abuse vulnerable women? The true preaching power of Gilead is its increase in birth rate, which is achieved by using horrible methods but it somewhat worked. 

    The most important part of a society which is also the most fragile one. Now the great-minded people of Gilead can’t have the most fragile and important pillar of their system which is constantly exploited and abused, blend in with the crowd. You know, easy to get away and all that. That’s why the Marthas had a network and not the Handmaids.

    They are draped in Red from the chin down with a hideous cap they call ‘Wings’ which ironically symbolizes their innocence. The logical reasoning behind this choice is far better on the sick scale than the other. Red signifies many things but the particular shade worn by our women is scarlet, a word for shame. As we’ve been shown in the beginning of the show that the handmaids were the women Gilead considered ‘impure’ or ‘sluts’. Now that they have turned them into breeding cows, bleeding out for people who’ll give them a cookie for their amusement, guess it’s a fitting color. 

    Teal Worn By The Wives Of The Commanders

    Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy for 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Image: Hulu)
    Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (Image: Hulu)

    It’s often a subject of wonder for me as to why the Wives wore Teal. It’s a cool and calm color which was in stark contrast with what they were actually like but then I realized how much Gilead likes to stay in the theory. In theory, the Wives of the Commanders were pure, pious women who had been dying from the disease of freedom of speech in the old world and just wanted to follow their biological destiny. How unfortunate for them that they can’t even make the babies which are to aid them in help fulfilling this destiny so they let their husbands rape abducted women. 

    Somewhere deep down there is a desire to speak up to read a book or try on a different shade but the sombre teal of their shadow silences them. This also puts in action the phrase of feeling blue as we can see Serena Joy always in a bad mood or in between a depressive episode. That’s what the color signifies, it’s a reminder of their power on paper existence and how they are to sit beside their husbands being calm and collected, never once expressing something called ‘an opinion’.

    In case you missed: Is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’s Serena Joy A Complex Antagonist Or Just Another Victim Of The Patriarchal System?

    Grayish Green Worn By Marthas 

    A still from 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Image: Hulu)
    A still from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (Image: Hulu)

    I personally think Marthas are just as much kickass as the Handmaids, if not more. The housekeepers, posted just for the purpose of cooking and cleaning and raising the babies Commanders and their Teal-wearing wives so badly wanted. These infertile women of brain, talent, or whatever they had going on before the Gilead, were reduced to housemaids dressed in dull hues of Gray and Green. The colors symbolized the growth of nature in an imposingly domestic way but there was another logical reason. Even though the entire color pallet of Gilead consists of dull depressing colors barring the Handmaids, Martha’s gray is to blend her in so deep she never gets spotted. And that’s how the biggest hit on Gilead took place.

    Marthas were cooks, shoppers, cleaners, babysitters and another role that Gilead didn’t put on the list, rebellions. The first spark of hope was lit on a Martha’s stove and from there the blaze began. The Gilead’s choice of color for them did help them disappear into the homes of higher-ups but it also helped them blend in the somber society of it. We’ve seen how powerful the little cooks dressed like nuns turned out to be during the angels’ flight. 

    Related: Top 5 Dystopian New World Shows To Watch Now

    Brown Worn By Aunts

    A still from 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Image: Hulu)
    A still from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (Image: Hulu)

    How we haven’t forgotten the harsh words and non-justifiable flashback of our beloved Aunt Lydia. Aunts are probably the only faction of women in the anti-feminist society of Gilead who have a role outside the walls of the home. They are the only ones with a semblance of authority and special liberties, to read and work and such. Aunts are basically the trainers of the Handmaids who degrade to a level they have no choice but to give in. It’s ironic how the only working faction of women works towards making sure women don’t get any ideas about working. Well, their dusky brown is a takeaway from the communist nations and remnants from the time of World War I.  

    They beat up women to submission, trained them to be perfect house pets, and brainwashed them into thinking they were ‘sluts’. So, I guess the brown suits them perfectly, speaking for their role of policing the most restless faction of the bunch.

    Pink And Purple Worn By Young And Unmarried Girls

    stills from 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Image: Hulu)
    stills from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (Image: Hulu)

    While these two colors haven’t been as prominent in the series yet, they might get a Halloween costume board of their own by the end of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’s next season. In a few heart-wrenching encounters we’ve witnessed of June and Hanna we’ve noticed the soft pink color of Hanna’s uniform. Pink here signifies the kid being a girl, typical! 

    There was another development towards the end of last season where we see Hanna during the funeral parade of Fred Waterford. She was dressed in a plum-purple uniform and just like us even June had no idea what that meant. Turns out, there is a color for the daughters of commanders who have reached the age where they are eligible for marriage. 13-year-old Hanna wearing that put June into a frenzy as it would any other concerning mom. 

    Other Colors 

    A still from 'The Handmaid's Tale' (Image: Hulu)
    A still from ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (Image: Hulu)

    Now that we’re done with most of the roles women of Gilead can have their pick from, it’s time for the roles that are less appealing (Not like any of them have any appeal). First, we have the Econwives, who are the same as the wives of the commanders, just in lower ranks so they don’t get a Handmaid to abuse and exploit. Remember young Eden Spencer who got married to Nick and then fell in love with a guard and then died with him full-on Romeo- Juliette style? Okay, remember Sydney Sweeney’s character in the show? Yes, she was an Econwife. Although we didn’t see many colors in the Econowives outfits in the show, in the book they’re described as a blend of blue, green and red to signify their multiple roles to their husbands. 

    Then we have the unwoman, put any woman with an an echo of a thought about having human rights in this category. All those women we saw dying in the death camps of the colonies along with Alexis Bledel’s Emily. They wore rags in the color of gray, which signifies nothing but their decaying state. 

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    Akshita Singh
    Akshita Singh
    Akshita Singh is a Senior Content Writer at First Curiosity. She has been churning out content for 2 years. She's an avid reader and writer, fascinated by the works of Sylvia Plath, Franz Kafka, and Charles Bukowski. Akshita is also a poet herself, having written two poetry books titled ‘Made By Misery’ and ‘Deathbed’. Apart from goth literature, another thing that she enjoys is the real and fictional stories of Hollywood. She loves cinema and admires all works of art, be they delivered by actors or directors. So, keeping up with celebrity life comes as basic nature to her, something she loves knowing and informing others.

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