The new issue of Lucky magazine, with the glowing and gorgeous Rosario Dawson on the cover, has a forward-looking fashion piece inside called "The Next Big Things '09." You'll find the "most wanted trends" for the new year: Oversize '80s earrings, cuban heels, cropped slouchy trousers. And, what the magazine calls "Shoe Obsession No. 1": Nude leather shoes. Yeah, nude. But for whom?
You already know the answer: For people with a certain skin color.
I remember, as a kid, when Crayola crayons had a color called "flesh." The company changed the name from "flesh" to "peach" in 1962, right when the Civil Rights Movement was in full-force, and I was coloring more than a decade later, but I remember "flesh" fairly vividly, and I'm not the only one. Maybe I had old crayons. (Or knock-offs?) In any case, I was distinctly aware that, as a black kid, my skin was a lot darker than what the crayon people were declaring was standard.
I also recall the first time I realized that Band-Aid bandages were supposedly "flesh" colored. The little strips that always showed up like a pop of bright beige on my skin totally blended in on the knee of my childhood buddy, who was, of course, Caucasian.
It's terrible to feel like your skin color makes you an undesirable client, an afterthought, not worthy of consideration. And it came rushing back when I saw Lucky suggesting I ought to try "nude" shoes. The idea is that the color of the shoe fades into your skin tone, extending the leg. But since I'm not white, they certainly won't make my legs look a mile long.
The dictionary lists one definition of "nude" as "the color of a white person's flesh," which means that the Lucky editors are using it correctly; I just wish they weren't using it at all.