Colour Me Ranting: or why I won’t be reaching for my coloured pencils when I’m feeling stressed

Have you ever had those days where you try and do the right thing and it ends up causing you a shitload of grief? It’s felt like today that everything I’ve done has just come back to bite me… unnecessarily. I’m not going to be crass enough to bitch about my work place here but, suffice it to say, I’m super ready to leave right now. Anyone looking for a ranty film fan who has super strong feelings (whether good or bad) about everything JK Rowling does? No. Yeah, I’ve been getting that hint from all those rejection letters. So, to end this cycle of self-pity, I’m feeling super shitty and stressed right now. What am I going to do about it? Well, if you listen to any bookstore, I should apparently be colouring in. What a fucking joke.

Now, I feel like I should say that I’m not against the principle of colouring books. I loved them when I was a child and I don’t think I’ve ever grown out of them. My mother’s a teacher so there’s always plenty of blank sheets waiting to be filled in by a childish adult. I was buying them for myself way before this fucking crazy fad ever kicked in. So when you finally get past how fucking hipster that sentence was, you can rest assured that colouring in is my jam.

I’ve also bought plenty. At university I spent time between dissertation writing and seminars colouring in a couple of superhero books that I found in a pound shop. I own one of those intricate Johanna Basford books that’s way too beautiful to be put into the hands of someone with a little grace as me. I also got super excited to receive the Penguin Covers colouring book. Two of my loves combined. I write this as the Game of Thrones colouring book sits patiently in my Book Depository basket waiting for me to click checkout.

So. I’m all over the concept of sitting down with a few pens or pencils and getting artsy. However, I cannot for the life of me accept that this is being marketed as a form of fucking therapy. I mean Jesus Christ. Colouring books are useful as a cure for boredom. It gives you something quiet and relaxing to do when you’ve run out of things on netflix and you’d had your fill of Buzzfeed for the morning. That’s where it should end. Really there’s no benefit to doing it. It’s not even a source of creativity. You’re working within a guideline that someone else set out for you and, unless you’re a fucking colour maverick, you won’t get much freedom with you palette.

It’s not even that enjoyable an activity when you think about it. It’s a very rigid task that requires participants to be very anal about where they put their pencil marks. It’s not even a source of fun when you think about it. Think about it: kids, the people these things should be marketed towards, get bored halfway through most drawings. Who can be bothered to get intricately fill in tiny gaps on a page or spend hours colouring in sky or grass?

It’s even worse with the adult ones because all the gaps are so fucking tiny and the pages of fucking huge. But that’s how you get adults on board. You don’t want some childish sketches in a book being marketed as therapy. That would never do. How can someone be expected to partake in a journey of self-discovery on a path to well-being if they’re expected to colour in the same old raggedy clowns they were faced with when they were in single digits?

This is why the fad is so ridiculous. It not only perpetuates the idea that well-being is something that we cannot achieve in our everyday lives without some outside assistance but also encourages you to solve your problems by distracting yourself. How crazy is it that we live in a society where people are falling over themselves to show the world how stressed and troubled they but are only willing to accept colouring in as a solution to their problems?

Our society is fast-paced and people want results without having to spend time or money on them. Why bother getting actual therapy when you can colour in for half an hour every day to get the same results? It sounds like an ideal solution except for the fact that it’s bollocks. You’re not solving your problems by colouring in: you’re just forgetting about them for a little bit. Art therapy and colouring in are two very different things. One is a creative and free way to express yourself and confront your personal demons. The other is fucking colouring in. Something that quashes creativty and switches off your brain. Let’s stop this nonsense.

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