Racialized overtones of the word “nude”


Fall 2012 wedding dress by Vera Wang

I have thought about the fact that “nude” or “flesh colored” clothing (or band-aids) only work if you happen to be white. Clearly, nude or flesh-colored does not accurately describe people of color, but I had never thought about it in the context of a wedding before.

And then along comes Sociological Images post from yesterday: “Nude,” Racial Marginalization, and the Wedding Industry

Author Lisa Wade put together a Pintrest board featuring our examples of light-tan clothes and products described as “nude,” “skin-colored,” or “flesh-colored.”

She explains

The practice erases or marginalizes people with medium or dark-colored skin by presuming that everyone’s flesh is light tan.

She’s totally right, and she goes on to explain that there a number of other ways in which this type of racial marginalization exists in everyday life.

To reiterate, calling this color “nude” reminds us all that light-skinned people are regular people and everyone else needs a modifying adjective.  In addition to the many other examples of this that we encounter everyday — like lotion for “normal to darker skin,” ornaments in “bride and groom” and “African-American bride and groom,” and dolls in “dolls” and “ethnic dolls” — these instances can be constant and exhausting examples of one’s marginality.

Anyway, just something for you all to think about.

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