OPINION | Love the skin you're in

If you bought pantyhose labelled 'flesh', what colour would you expect them to be?

How about nude foundation?

These terms may be less familiar for the blokes (although I suppose you could buy pantyhose and foundation too, I'm not judging), but they're rife in women's products.

These sorts of labels betray the fact that, for many companies (and individuals), their default version of a human is a white person.

Flesh, nude and skin-toned do not usually mean dark brown - the colour of the majority of humans on earth.

What if I said something was 'eye-coloured' and you found out I meant blue. Wouldn't you think that was strange? Eyes come in several colours, right?

Well - and I don't mean to state the bleeding obvious - so does skin.

I'm not naive - I realise this topic has caused a tiny bit of trouble over the years. But while systemic racism isn't easy to solve, some things would be. So why is it so hard for my darker hued friends to buy makeup? Or a bra that matches their flesh tone?

Not that most of us are ever happy with the colour we got dished up.

For an array of reasons - from deadly serious political ones to the most superficial of advertising-induced conditioning - pale skinned Anglo-Celts slather on the fake tan, while people blessed with more melanin shell out cash for 'skin lightening' lotions.

I remember being shocked the first time I went to a shopping mall in the Middle East (this goes ditto for most of Asia and Africa) and saw the numerous posters - and a whole chunk of the toiletry shelves - given over to the (illusory) promise of fairer skin.

Meanwhile, I went to the pharmacy to collect the cream that strips my pre-cancerous skin lesions from my fair-skinned face.

A friend over there simply refused to believe me when I told her that most Australians were pleased when they made their skin darker by getting a tan.

People come in such an array of shades (even within their own ethnic groups) that it almost seems ridiculous that we ever started talking about it as something that divides us. It's time to expand the range.


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