How Colors Reflect Our Moods, Lifestyles and Environments

Do you ever wonder why you’re drawn to certain colors – for your cars, your home, your office or even the clothing you wear?

It may not be something you’ve given tremendous thought, but colors are not only influenced by fashion trends, but by our emotions, lifestyles, societal influences, the environment…and even our diets!

I spoke with Dee Schlotter, the color expert for PPG Paints (, whose profession is devoted to the science and the psychology of color. She uses her expertise to select hues that appeal to consumers and notes trends so PPG can service a variety of industries (including: automotive, planes, home and office interiors and electronic devices).

Part of Schlotter’s job is to keep up with the colors people are selecting, to know what color a certain type of room should be (i.e. to keep people energized or calm, to help them feel organized) and have an eye on trends and societal influences that are impacting choices. It was quite a revelation speaking with her and discovering there is extensive psychological and societal research behind each color.
Red walls in playrooms may increase children’s energy and their appetites, says Schlotter, explaining that red reminds kids of certain foods.


SHW: You’ve said that color often corresponds to mood. What common colors do people choose that reflect their emotions?


DS: Color preference is subjective, but not random. The shades that come out today have involved a lot of study. We often say that ‘we influence trends as much as trends influence us.’ There are societal, geographic, demographic and lifestyle influences behind color. For instance, there is an avocado color that pertained to a certain generation (Boomers). How we connect to colors have to do with our memories and where we came from.

If you were a teen in the late 60s or early 70s, you may be nostalgic for an avocado colored kitchen.

Very often, colors come from nature and the things that go back to our earliest memories help us connect and feel nostalgic..and good! As far as what’s trending right now, our color of the year (2017) was Violet Verbena. We found that purples are only selected 1 percent of the time, so we tried to make the best version of this purple. Violet Verbena was meant to represent a blended society. The male-female boundaries are blurred, age is blurred and it’s really a color that anyone might choose.

PPG Paints
“Color of the Year”? That’s what PPG Paints named Violet Verbena, a gender-neutral color that represents the blending in our society.

As a paint color, it actually went from being an insignificant one on our display to being our best. At, we dive a little deeper into the significance of color. One thing we’ve highlighted is how geography impacts it too. For instance, take the color yellow. Yellow can reflect optimism and hope in the U.S., but in Egypt it is for mourning. In Japan, it signifies courage and in India it’s a top color for merchandising.

SHW: What’s the most popular color for cars today?

DS: Right now it is white. This actually shifted from silver. Also, the white of today is a lot different than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago.
A 2017 Tesla
A white Mercury Capri from the 1980s
SHW: I listen to a comedian whose character likes a ‘shades of vanilla’ home? What type of personality do you think that reflects? (I’m referring to the character of Ronna on the Ronna and Beverly podcast.)

DS: Whites and light grays and very neutral colors convey silence and space. They create few distractions. We saw three years ago that there was a lot of white in hotels and it’s because there’s so much chatter in our lives and white takes away from the distractions. People feel there is a cleansing nature to it. So this character you refer to probably feels less overwhelmed by all the noise when she walks into her ‘shades of vanilla’ home. It’s probably a relief to her that it’s clean and uncluttered.

SHW: My sons want to turn one of our basement rooms into a “man cave” and have asked about painting the walls red. I was wondering about this color for four rambunctious boys (ages 8-14).

DS: Be prepared for them to have lots of energy and an increase in appetite…4 sons means you will definitely see a frequency in snacking if they’ve been hanging out in a red room!

SHW: Oh no! We don’t need that. Red increases appetite?

DS: Yes, very much so and it’s a reminder of certain foods. Even meat has some red and of course, certain fruits and vegetables. Blues actually decrease appetites. So when you walk into a popular restaurant, you seldom see blue and you do see reds and oranges and yellow – like with McDonald’s.

SHW: Besides the sadness that can be attached to hospitals in general, when we walk into those buildings, the walls and the floors and everything seems so drab and colorless.

DS: It’s a bad design, but it is changing now because the Boomers are moving into that area and they may need assisted living. We actually just did a presentation that reflects a complete shift for hospitals and places for elder care. You will see the boomers having an impact like they did with all parts of their lives. That will be reflected in a lot more colors taken from nature and gardening.There’s going to be that wow factor soon simply from changing the color of the paint on the walls.

SHW: How does clothing fashion impact the colors you choose for new paints?

DS: We look at runway fashion very seriously because it starts on the runway and then it’s a little under 15 months until it gets to home decor. We see that the colors people wear reflect their personalities and then they like to have those colors surrounding them in their home.

PPG Paints
A chart reflecting how colors correspond to moods

PPG Paints, A second chart showing more color that corresponds to moods

SHW: I noticed that varying shades of pink are in style for the spring. I actually wondered how the Women’s March in January may or may not have impacted that.

DS: Yes, colors from society are on our minds. Greens from people’s smoothies when there is a focus on health – even that comes out in fashion and home decor. Light pink, like you mentioned, is a compassionate color. We saw that color after 9/11 and we’re seeing it now. We picked Violet Verbena and sadly, Prince died a couple of months later and we noticed people gravitating towards different shades of purple…People think they’re not affected by the colors they see when it’s on the news and in the media, but it can be subconscious. Seeing the televised Prince tributes…the news about Prince featuring video or a photo left purple fresh in people’s minds., The late Prince all in purple

To connect with Dee Schlotter and get some insight on the hues best suited for you, go to


Moms, Psychology

SH*T People Say To Pregnant Women

twins not twins

I was recently on the Buttered Pop podcast to recap an episode of the wildly popular Bravo show Vanderpump Rules. While there are no pregnant characters on the show… yet, there was a story-line about a character receiving unsolicited comments on her body from another (male) character. While delving into this with the podcast host Armin Mahramzadeh, he and I discussed the concept of a man weighing in to criticize and heavily scrutinize a woman’s body. We wondered if 2018 would finally be the year for men to take a second look at this habitual and (also unfortunately) historic behavior,  realizing how wrong it is to issue these types of intrusive remarks.

pregnant fat

Even men who profess to be feminists and to understand women, should think before making a nasty barb about the female bod…

Because guess what, men? You are men. Whether you are gay or straight, single or in a relationship, live with a woman or do not: You have no firsthand understanding of the female anatomy, hormones and related weight fluctuations like someone with an actual female body has. Often enough, you’ve exhibited that you have no concept of what a realistic female body type is, what is desirable versus what is achievable.

I feel the above frustrations as a woman and I also remember feeling a great deal of annoyance – amplified by overwhelming surges in hormones – when I was pregnant.

Until I actually started to show during my first pregnancy, I had no idea that that time period in my life would open the floodgates to all sorts of unsolicited commentary. It boggled my mind then that folks felt they had license to issue all sorts of rude and tasteless insults to the most hormonal people on the planet, expecting it to roll right off their backs. With the subsequent two pregnancies, I still remained aghast though perhaps, I was a bit prepared. Otherwise, pregnancy is a blessing and having gone the fertility route to achieve a sustainable pregnancy, I felt super thankful and appreciative to even have this time to complain…..Still, the sorts of things that people will say – I will never forget some of those comments!

just one baby

In retrospect, I can laugh at the ridiculousness, but in the moment, I really just wanted to school people on the things they shouldn’t be saying.

Can you imagine if  I walked over to a man and said “Oh my God, you are so fucking bald! What happened to all of your hair?” Something tells me it wouldn’t go over well at all, that it would be seriously shocking and be perceived as terribly inappropriate. So the fact that it is far less shocking to tell a  woman “You are huge!” while staring at her belly (pregnant or not, because people never cease to amaze me) is appalling.

when is it ok pregnant


My experience with pregnancy – three times- is what inspired me to write a little skit that was performed in an Off Broadway production a few years ago under the directorship of Aliza Shane and the 3V Theater company.

big isnt compliment pregnancy


Without further adieu, I present you with “Sh*t People Say to Pregnant Women” and perhaps after you read it, you’ll remember to insert your own pregnant pauses into conversations about women’s bodies:

“Are you seriously eating that?”

“Are you going to eat ALL that?!”

“I never ate that much when I was pregnant…”

[Laughing and pointing] “Talk about ‘eating for two’!”

“You know that you don’t really need to’ eat for two.’ The baby is the size of a lima bean.”

“YOU are going to gain so…much…WEIGHT!”

“Oh wow, [slaps head] you’re pregnant! I thought you just got fat.”

“Your nose has gotten wider; you must be having a girl!”

“Your nose has gotten wider; you must be having a boy!”

“You must be having a girl. Girls suck out all your beauty…”

“Don’t you love how now you can just let yourself go and eat whatever you want?”

“Oh, no wonder you’re letting yourself go!”

“No wonder you’re eating so much!”

“Oh, you’re showing early because you’re so skinny.”

“My other friend who’s pregnant didn’t show as early because SHE’S thin.”

“I wasn’t sure it was a PREGNANT belly. I thought it might just be a MARRIED belly.”

“Oh, I knew it! I just knew it! I knew it before you told me!”

“I thought your face was getting a little fat.”

“I noticed your boobs were looking bigger.”

“Oh, phew, I really was wondering why you were suddenly getting so chunky.”

“Ohhhh. Can I touch it?”

“Should you be eating that?”

“Should you be drinking that?”

“You know you shouldn’t be eating that.”

“You SURE you’re not having twins?”

“Twins? You are going to BURST!”

“One’s gotta be hiding behind another. That happened to my mother’s sister’s cousin-in-law’s best friend’s aunt’s daughter.”

[Whispers confidentially] “Could it be triplets?”

“Well, it definitely has to be twins! You’re too big to be carrying only one. I don’t believe you…”

“You’re too small. Are you sure you’re eating enough?”

“I don’t care what your Doctor says, I KNOW you’re having twins!”

“You’re HUGE! …oh, it’s twins? [Nervously] you’re really carrying small. I hope the babies are ok.”

“Are you taking folic acid?”

“Are you taking your prenatal vitamin?”

“Natural or IVF?”

“Wow, you got pregnant fast at your age!”

“I guess your eggs weren’t fried after all, girl!”

“Wow, so close to your last baby?!”

“Weren’t you JUST pregnant?”

“Didn’t you just get married?”

“Don’t you believe in birth control?”

“What’s the rush?”

“Was this planned or…a surprise?”

“You’re having a baby?… I am so NOT a ‘kids person’!”

“Oh, I so hope it’s a girl since you already have a boy!”

“Will you be disappointed if it’s ANOTHER boy?”

“Are you finding out what you’re having?”

“Are you keeping it?”


The Things You Wouldn’t Say (Someone Else Will)

pregnant comeback pinterest


(Originally published 1/4/12 on The Huffington Post.)

One of my earliest memories involves a cringe-worthy moment for my mother, when I turned to a tall burly man in a Bronx elevator and said “You shouldn’t smoke, it’s bad for you.” While it is likely true, it’s not something I would now say to a perfect stranger. I remember my mother’s anxiously polite response (as well as the man’s), the jaw-splitting smiles, the chirpy laughter, her trying to cover up for the brash 4-year-old that I was.

… I was cute enough to get away with it then.

spinach salad


Cut to the present day… I’ve noticed that some of my acquaintances choose words carefully while others seem to have what is known as “no filter.” It is far less adorable. The things you wouldn’t say….well, very often, someone else will.

When I was pregnant several years ago, a neighbor approached me at the community rec center and loudly proclaimed “You’re gonna bust right out of that T-shirt. You sure you should be that big for just five months pregnant?” When I informed her I was actually carrying twins, she scolded me repeatedly for being too small.

While I contemplated launching a maternity line with witty comebacks (e.g., “MYOB: Mind Your Own Belly” and “Hands off!”), I saw how free people were to say things with no foresight about what might be hurtful and highly annoying.

Words that could potentially put Kleenex out of business (if you’ve ever been pregnant, I know you know what I’m saying) are often the result of cranial overload-induced verbal diarrhea.

Fab After Forty Tumblr


On the other hand, it is not always possible to predict what might be hurtful to others. That which one person hears as a teasing tune of a flute may arrive as the clash of cymbals to the recipient’s ears.

A few years ago, I upset a friend, a fellow mom of twins, by sharing a dream I had about her. I had no idea she was desperately trying to get pregnant again and had just suffered an unexpected miscarriage when I informed her I had dreamed she was pregnant. We’ve all inadvertently upset someone by saying something we thought nothing of.  There’s no way to go through life offense-free, but I would say that if you have an inkling of doubt, take out that filter. Try to separate the wheat from the chaff. Let your mind do the thinking before your mouth does the talking.

fab after forty Tublr 2