Pantyhose and shapewear: Acknowledge the skin I’m in
Undergarments and shoe lines finally tackle questionable “nude” shades
I am a Kit Kat in the winter and Dove Dark Chocolate in the summer. My hair randomly changes from black to random sprinkles of light and medium brown when the seasons change. (I’ll never dye it for that reason alone.) And I’m always prepared to adjust the lighting on any photograph I take, especially if I do so with my lighter-skinned family, friends and storytelling guests — and even more during a Chicago hot summer.
Melanin-rich women know exactly what I mean by the latter line. Whether we’re hanging outside with friends, voluntarily tanning or just running errands near sunshine, our “nude” is deeply rich shades of browns. When the sun is on us, we glisten. And when we get all dressed up to go out for a night on the town, we also prepare for something else. While shopping, we know we’ll have a helluva time in the undergarment aisle trying to find shapewear (usually Spanx), pantyhose, knee highs or neutral shoes that don’t make us look like four different shades of brown in the same outfit. And “nude” needs to find a new name because it is not nude for us.
Of course loud and proud patterns or boring white and black could do the trick for undergarments, but it doesn’t quite work that way with skin-tone shoes or pantyhose. And for more form-fitting clothing in which we want undergarments to be felt but not seen, that’s when we’ll do a deep dive to find the very last pack of “Cocoa” or “Gentlebrown.” “Barely there” is a lie; we can see it there.
While writing a recent post for “RETHINK Retail,” I was honestly stunned to find out that there were more than a handful of apparel lines who are slowly but surely coming around to the obvious lack of undergarments (and shoes) for women of color. And I’m here for it!
Before this post, I had no idea about Nubian Skin or Nude Barre. I’d never heard of African-American and African-owned lingerie apparel lines such as Anya Lust, Dbleudazzled, Beautifully Undressed, Bjite, Sablier or Suzy Black Lingerie. And expecting women may be interested in Uyo Okebie-Eichelberger’s Preggo Leggings and You! Lingerie.
I was proud that Rihanna’s Savage line was making a killing, but I still wasn’t particularly seeing the kind of color options that I wanted in an undergarment line. Nude Barre’s Caramel, Tapioca Cream, Cocoa, Bohemian Princess and Mocha are exactly what I need to see with more undergarment apparel lines — and all the reason I need to support that one in particular.
Although Sojourner Truth’s reasons for asking “Ain’t I a Woman?” were different, I’ll borrow the phrase anyway. Black people contributed to 85 percent of beauty industry sales, according to Forbes. And hair care products and accessories rake in a smooth $2.5 billion. With the makeup industry (ex. Fashion Fair and Iman Cosmetics) also making a killing for women of color, one must wonder what took so long for melanin-friendly lingerie and undergarments to travel over into the “under” world. Ain’t I a woman, too?