PARIS: High-visibility yellow vests that drivers must have in their cars in case of emergency are the chosen symbol of an ongoing protest movement in France that began six months ago.
As the anti-government “yellow vest” protests that kicked off in November continue with the 27th consecutive demonstration due Saturday on (May 18), here is a look at other accessories of protest in France and elsewhere.
The Phrygian cap – a soft cone-shaped red hat with a bent tip – became a symbol of the first French republic after the 1789 revolution.
Dating back to the ancient kingdom of Phrygia in Anatolia, it has endured to this day as a traditional marker of revolutionary values.
The cap is often worn by the symbolic Marianne, a female figure who represents the French republic and values of freedom, and features in countless statues, sculptures and paintings.
A group of bare-breasted women wearing red hoodies to represent the Marianne made an appearance at one of the early “yellow vest” demonstrations in Paris in December.
The Phrygian cap also made a showing at 2014 protests against laws easing abortion restrictions and legalising gay marriage, which were considered attacks on the traditional family.
A different kind of red cap, the “bonnet rouge”, was seen on the streets of Brittany in 2013 as part of demonstrations against an environmental tax on heavy goods vehicles.
Long red tunics and white caps, inspired by Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s famous dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, have become a powerful outfit of protest in 2018 as part of the #MeToo movement.
Campaigners against female oppression have dressed as handmaids in demonstrations around the world, including in the United States, Argentina, Ireland and Poland.
Fighting the same cause, “pussy hats” – knitted pink beanies with cat ears – made a mass appearance in US demonstrations after the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January 2017.
A poke at Trump’s demeaning comments about women, the woolly hats have featured at women’s rights demonstrations since then, including large gatherings in Washington in January 2018 and 2019.
THAI RED VS YELLOW SHIRTS
Political unrest in Thailand took a colourful turn in 2008 when “yellow shirts” protesters defended the king against the “red shirts”, who supported ousted ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Yellow was associated with royalists and elites in Bangkok while red represented the rural northern regions.
“Blue shirts” were added to the mix in 2009 for those rallying behind the politician Newin Chidchob, in opposition to the “red shirts”.
HONG KONG’S UMBRELLAS
Thousands of colourful, opened umbrellas covered Hong Kong’s streets in 2014 during protests against electoral reform in the former British colony, initially as a peaceful means of protection against the police.
The accessory became the symbol of the pro-democracy movement and even appeared inside Hong Kong’s parliament, as well as featuring in a British Museum exhibition in 2018.
RED LIPS IN NICARAGUA
Demonstrators against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega chose red lipstick as their mark of protest in 2018, using the slogan #soypicorojo (I am with red lips) to call for the liberation of political prisoners.
The action was inspired by militant feminist Marlen Chow, who when arrested, applied her lipstick and then passed the stick around fellow detainees encouraging them to do the same.