Redefining the Color “Nude”

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Historically, the color “nude” has been represented as various shades of cream or beige. And if I’m being completely honest, until recently, I would have never questioned it. “It’s not talking about skin, it’s just the name of the color,” I justified. However, the word “nude” implies that one is naked. So when you start using that as a certain color, you step into the muddy ground of attempting to define what color we are when we are nude. Or what color we should be. Or what color is most beautiful or acceptable.

At one point in history, I believe this was intentional. It was commonly accepted in the United States to truly believe that a woman with a lighter skin tone was more beautiful than one with darker skin. Nowadays, while it may not be as acceptable to admit that out loud (in most places), it is still a pervasive yet subtle mindset. It can’t always be recognized, at least by those of us who are possibly benefitting from this notion. That subtle prejudice is possibly something I’ll write about another time; it is extremely important to address, but it is not the point of this article. My point is, because racism was socially acceptable, and even praised, roughly 2 generations ago, we must pay attention to the cultural systems that were put in place back then. One of those being the understanding of the color “nude.”

As I said before, until recently, I would not have thought twice about the color I pictured as beige. However, my friend (who has beautiful dark skin) and I have had many conversations about race & racial reconciliation and one of the things we’ve discussed has been the seemingly small differences we deal with as women with different skin tones (you can actually see a video of our conversation here… just don’t judge our poor video quality). In thinking this through, and in discovering lingerie brands that were beginning to offer different shades of “nude,” I began to realize that my own perspective of that color was very narrow. I admitted to my friend that if I saw her wearing dark brown heels, which would indeed match her skin tone, I would describe them as brown, not as nude. And if she was wearing a cream or beige colored shirt, I would likely refer to it as nude.

Slowly, that thought started making me sick. It is quite gut wrenching to realize the subtle prejudice in my heart and mind. My friend’s understanding of nude, on the other hand, was much fuller. She simply stated that it depends on who is wearing the color. She had been faced with the discrepancy of what the color nude represents, and I hadn’t even noticed it. So I have committed to notice it now. And to therefore support companies who are displaying a broader understanding of this color, because all skin tones are beautiful, good, right.

That being said, here is a list of 8 companies that have stuck out to me who are choosing to redefine the color nude, and provide fashion products that are suitable for women of all skin shades (includes lingerie, shoes, hosiery and makeup).

“All skin tones are beautiful, good, right.”
  1. Third Love — lingerie
  2. Naja — lingerie
  3. Nudest (formerly Mia Pielle) — lingerie, socks
  4. Evelyn & Bobbie — bras (in pre-order stage)
  5. Nubian Skin — lingerie, shoes, hosiery
  6. Nünude — dresses, swimwear, tracksuits
  7. Kahmune — shoes (pumps & sandals)
  8. Mented Cosmetics — lipstick & nail polish

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