The use of the hi-visibility jacket as a symbol of the gilets jaunes “yellow vest” movement in France is worthy of some reflection.We will probably never know who first came up with this idea, but here are 7 reasons why it’s a stroke of genius.
- The jacket is by definition and function highly visible. This makes being seen and being noticed fundamental to the movement as a whole whose people are saying to their politicians, “it’s high time you took notice of us.”
- The jacket is worn in an emergency situation, when your vehicle breaks down. Thus, the wearing of the jacket indicates that this is an urgent situation, one that requires an intervention on the level of a rescue mission.
- French law requires that all drivers carry a high visibility jacket in their car in case of such an emergency. And so, in wearing this jacket the gilets jaunes have niftily made themselves noticed as being both law-abiding citizens and people who are trying to affect change in the law at the same time. Nice one.
- The jacket doesn’t discriminate between anyone no matter their age, creed, colour or background. If you look at the people protesting in France you will see an incredible diversity of participation. The beauty of this movement is that it refuses to be pigeon-holed.
- Supporters can show their solidarity by displaying it in the windscreen. No one is writing about this in any articles I’m reading, but everyone who drives around France right now who supports this movement (and we’re talking 75%) displays the high-vis jacket in their windscreen. It is a simple and direct way (along with honking loudly at the road blocks) to show solidarity with the movement.
- Every revolution needs a colour. Georgia had the Rose Revolution. Ukraine’s was orange. This one just happens to be yellow.
- Everyone has got one already. For a movement whose base is made up of people who are struggling to get by every month, this is a real plus and gets to the heart of the matter.