As a child, coloring time in elementary school was always perplexing. Although I loved doodling for hours on end, problems arose for me when I began to draw my friends and myself. I never understood why the Crayola crayon color titled “Skin Tone” was a creamy pink, which even for a fair person was noticeably pasty. Seeing that the color Skin Tone was solely—and poorly—reflective of one race was almost as uncomfortable as when a 7-year-old white girl named Kendall tried to French-braid my frizzy mane during story hour.
Remnants of this feeling resurfaced once my breasts grew. Fast-forward 10 years, to when my mother and I were shopping for nude bras for me to wear under my abnormally large collection of white apparel.
I noticed my undergarment color options were limited to white, beige, and black. None of these were anything close to my shade. When I look in the mirror, I like to consider my skin tone a happy medium between Crayola’s Sepia and Burnt Sienna.
It was evident that most lingerie lines forgot about the entire spectrum of people and races that reside between such stark and extreme tones. With each color I tried on, there was never a cohesive connection between where my skin began and my bra strap ended. In second grade, and still ten years later, I truly believed that something was abnormal about my skin because it wasn’t represented under the color spectrum of “skin tone” or “nude.”
So I took what I could get, and settled for black to go under my all-white getups.
Well, it’s time to stop settling for less than our perfect shades. There is now a lingerie company catered to reclaiming and reinventing the color “nude”—this time with darker skin tones included. With women of color held in the forefront of its mind, Nubian Skin, an English company founded by London native Ade Hassan, strives to cater to as many skin tones as it can, giving women of color the ability to match their underwear seamlessly to their natural hues.
Finding this product helped me realize and understand how women of color are dismissed in the fashion world. Hassan’s idea stemmed from the same frustration I had: While shopping for lingerie, the colors she saw never represented her. Most women own or need some kind of skin-tone lingerie to wear under sheer, white, or light-colored clothing. Hassan said she believes lingerie can be the foundation of a sleek silhouette and the basis for a cohesive outfit—particularly if that lingerie is catered to you.
What is unique about Nubian Skin is it provides a guide allowing you to match the foundation you prefer with the company’s corresponding product color. For example, if you use Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint in Beige 80, then your color would be what the site calls Cinnamon, its medium-dark shade. Currently, it also carries Berry, Caramel, and Cafe au Lait. A list of matching foundations, and an example photo of a woman who may resemble you and your shade, is provided next to each of Nubian Skin’s product names.
Nude colors are drastically different not only among various races, but within each race too. It is odd that it took someone so long to help change the fashion industry’s standard of “nude,” but I am glad Hassan is finally doing it. This sentiment is not only based off my quarrel with underwear brands, but with heels, nail polishes, and cosmetics as well. As Nubian Skin expands its offerings and reach, I hope the intention behind this noteworthy company is translated into other fashion mediums—especially ones that still use Crayola’s creamy pink as a standard for nude.