help! i can’t unsee brat green

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Illustration by Cady Siregar.

Last week, I dreamed in brat green

It involved some projectile vomiting, so I’d rather not share the nitty-gritty details. But I will say that I woke up feeling quite clammy and slightly concerned about whatever was happening inside my subconscious. It was obvious an entire week of slime-colored memes and profile pictures had a significant impact on my already fragile psyche, to the point where I was experiencing a number of disturbing firsts. It was the first time everything was monochrome, and the first time I had such a visceral reaction to something that didn’t involve Roger — my trusty sleep paralysis demon — or one of his shadow homies. But what troubled me the most, however, was realizing that after a decade-plus of covering pop culture, this was the first time a viral trend had actually taken root in my brain.

By then, Charli XCX’s brat had already been out for nearly a week, but the brat green wave was still growing stronger by the day, judging by the army of old heads and new Charli converts that had taken over my entire timeline with a color she’d purposefully chosen to piss people off.

In her cover story for Vogue Singapore, Charli started by making a good point about wanting to subvert the public’s sense of “ownership” over female pop stars, asking why they were always expected to appear on the album art. So in response, she decided to go with what she considered “an offensive, off-trend shade of green to trigger the idea of something being wrong.”

She wanted to “provoke people,” she said. “I’m not doing things to be nice.”

Studies suggest that certain colors can evoke certain moods and influence well-being – for better and worse. brat green is loud and aggressive, existing in some cursed candy-raver region between neon green and bright yellow. It can be overwhelming. Marketers tend to associate yellowish greens with “conflict” and “fear.” Color psychologist Karen Haller told Homes & Gardens that bright yellow in particular can cause extreme “color fatigue,” leading to “feelings of irritation, heightened anxiety, nervousness and depression.” Blending it into brat green basically counteracts green’s “therapeutic,” “calming,” and “secure” nature.

So, Charli was right to use brat green if she was looking for shock value. It’s the same rationale I used during my own brat green hair era, because messy 31-year-old Leo party girlies think alike. And like Charli, I found brat green’s provocative nature fun and confrontational, which means I’ve accumulated plenty of brat green stuff over the past few years. But now it’s inescapable. Brat green is all around me – not just online, but IRL.

brat green is now the first thing that’ll scream for my attention. Among the brat green things that have been driving me crazy are a notebook, Bic lighters, neon jelly pens, felt pens, and regular ink pens. I’ve counted three hair clips, four containers of antibacterial hand soap, a set of neon drinking glasses, and two packages of “eco-friendly” bamboo toilet paper, which were, unfortunately, on sale at Whole Foods. There’s the unopened box of Patrón, my dusty yoga mat, my partner’s old Game Boy Color, some cheap PVC boots, a scraggly charity fun-run shirt for bedtime, and the remnants of a “Red Bull” flavored vape. There’s my brat green vacuum handle and bottle of face wash, a stale bag of Haribo Twin Snakes and several brat green wall hangings, including a custom neon painting made by a friend and a Women’s March protest sign featuring my own dumb-ass face, bathed in the glow of some Sprite-sponsoned brat green lighting.

The number of panic attacks I’ve had since then have legitimately tripled, which sucks because my generic Xanax is also a pretty close dupe for brat green. The dream sent me over the edge, and, now, I can’t help but see brat green everywhere I go. I’ve seen it on school signs, billboards, shopping bags, and my peripheral vision. I’ve spent the past week being haunted by brat green everywhere I go. And while I still have an appointment with my optometrist, I’m desperately hoping that I’ll stop dreaming in brat green once the goldfish-brained internet moves onto the next thing. But, in the meantime, I have no choice but to acknowledge Charli’s genius — both as a musician and an evil marketing genius.