The twelve days of Christmas 10: Colouring books

Some bright spark in marketing recently came up with the idea of selling colouring books to grownups, and it’s taken off in a big way. You can’t walk through a bookshop this Christmas without being assailed by ten or twenty stylish offerings, from Harry Potter and Game of Thrones official merchandise to variations on the theme of ‘peaceful zen garden’.

The cleverest thing about the way these tempting but ultimately vacuous tomes are being sold is the use of the words for adults, which can be found defensively emblazoned across the prominently placed colouring-book table in fashionable bookstores near you. These words, combined with the claim that colouring is Mindful and therefore Serious, have magically removed the stigma of people older than twelve doing an activity traditionally only available to children and Geography students.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m massively in favour of everyone being a bit more juvenile most of the time. Children tend to be happier than adults in my experience, and that’s probably because they haven’t undergone quite so much pressure to redefine their idea of fun to include mainly not-that-fun things (Clubbing is Exhibit A).

However, it seems a tiny bit wilfully blind that we’re pretending to do colouring for Sensible Grownup Reasons. Let’s face it, most people just quite fancy a bit of colouring and are happy to have an excuse to do some. And honestly, it’s quite enjoyable; I had a go at a friend’s colouring book recently, and bought myself one the next day. For purely therapeutic reasons, of course.

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A likely future if the trend of “doing kid things but pretending it’s for adult reasons” continues. 

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6 thoughts on “The twelve days of Christmas 10: Colouring books

  1. It’s not for kids only. Anybody can color . I don’t think anybody is pretending to do anything when we choose to color. We do pretend when we act like nothing is making us anxious and we act like we have everything figured out and in control because that’s ” what grown ups do.” But when we color and do other therapeutic activities , we constructively cope with stress and move on with life.

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    • Yeah I absolutely agree that these kinds of activities are very valuable, and that it’s ridiculous to pretend that ‘grown ups’ are anything other than big kids with more responsibilities. I just think it’s funny that it’s taken a big marketing push to get adults to see colouring as an acceptable activity!

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  2. Fun fact: the British publisher that started all this never intended them to be marketed as “mindful”. Sales in France went through the roof and the warehouse was out of stock and the British publisher had no idea why, but the French publisher they’d sold the rights to had come up with the idea. It was a total accident and the British didn’t have to do anything at all.

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