This is something my mother very sternly told the teacher of a ceramics class I took as a 7-year-old: You can’t have all the kids paint their vase-in-the-shape-of-a-head sculptures “flesh color,” because not everyone’s flesh is the same color.
That was 1988.
The concept seems to be catching on! The Cut is reporting that Christian Louboutin is now offering five of his classic shoe styles in different tones in addition to the old standard pale-beige “nude” that only matched the skin of the select members of the country’s disappearing white majority. There’s even a special app to use if you don’t know exactly where you fall on the color spectrum. (Yep, you have to take a picture of your foot.)
This is a big deal because it’s one thing when “nude” describes, like, wallpaper or even a purse, but when it comes to things you put on your body, it’s generally designed to do something very specific: match your skin.
Think Band-Aids. Remember Ebon-Aides? There’s a reason they made those — although they’ve apparently been discontinued. That’s another story.
And people who care about the place where fashion and science and wishful thinking meet will tell you all about how, with shoes, a color that approximates the color of your skin plays a little trick on the eyes of those who are checking out your legs. As Louboutin himself puts it, shoes in the right color ” … disappear like magic and become a fluid extension of her legs, as in a sketch, elongating the silhouette.”
The jury is still out on the extent to which this magic really works to stretch people into supermodel proportions, but race shouldn’t be a barrier to giving it a shot, right?
And now it’s not.
Is the ability of people who can afford it to properly elongate their calves with “red bottoms” the most pressing racial-justice issue of the day? Not even close. But jeez, it’s really nice to see people catch on to something that’s probably covered in whatever course constitutes the prerequisite to Race 101: that human beings (including those who like to wear shoes) come in different colors.