Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Pound of Flesh

Dear No One in Particular,

The problem of "nude" is a hot-button topic for a number of bloggers recently (Wendy Brandes and Jezebel both dedicated some space to the issue), raising the question: when did "beige" become a synonym for "nude"?

Obviously, this designation did not spring up within the last week. I have distinct memories of Lucky touting "nude" sandals for summer 2006 -- proof that nothing in fashion (especially fashion magazines) is truly original. But why nude? Are Lucky and other magazines so dense that they don't realise that, no, people are not all the same colour underneath their clothes? I can understand that "beige" and "oatmeal", while apt descriptions, have decidedly un-sexy connotations, what's wrong with "neutral" or "taupe"?

Equally troubling are the racist overtones of lauding something as "nude" and promising that shoes in such a hue would elongate the leg line when obviously, this only works for, well, white people. So what -- people who aren't white don't want longer legs? Don't have that option available to them?

Perhaps I'm overthinking this.
While I'm not one to be overly involved with the PC movement, the fact remains that fashion is guilty for perpetuating the myth that white skin = beautiful skin -- a point I've written about before. So yes, political correctness can reach dizzying heights of ridiculousness, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's invalid. From where I'm sitting, the fashion industry could use a healthy dose of it -- and perhaps some diversity training.


P.S. Another issue that comes up in these discussions of "nude for whom" is the Crayola "flesh" coloured crayon. Apparently, the colour was discontinued in the 1960s in response to the Civil Rights movement, and was subsequently rebranded as "peach". Colour me crazy, but I was born a solid two decades after the "flesh" crayon disappeared, but I still remember using it as a wee one in the early '90s. Maybe I had a really, really old box? Or am I making false memories?


Lesley Denford said...

I think my "Peach" Crayola may have been called "Flesh" too. But like you, I'm not totally sure.

I had a tube of acrylic paint in high school called "Portrait Tone" - a barfy peach, which was supposed to look like skin tone. Ick. Isn't "Portrait Tone" just as offensive as "Flesh"?

amanda said...

Good to know someone my age has memories of the "flesh" crayon!

"Portrait Tone" sounds so wrong. Like an antiquated version of "flesh".