Photo: Dena Hurlebaus/iStock

“It’s taken me 45 trips around the sun, but for the first time in my life I know what it feels like to have a ‘band-aid’ in my own skin tone,” 45-year-old Apollon wrote last week about his Tru Colour bandage. “You can barely even spot it in the first image. For real I’m holding back tears.”

Advertisement

Apollon, who works as vice president of research for Race Forward, isn’t alone in this sentiment. The color of human flesh is often exclusively shown in shades of whiteness, or at best, light-brown tans. In fact, it was only in 2017 that black ballerinas could buy slippers in a flesh tone that even remotely matched their own.

It’s notable that ballet shoes are designed with color intention. The shoes themselves are meant to blend into the dancer’s skin, and foot form, creating an elongated visual line— the aesthetic is that the dancer’s legs appear sleeker by creating nude illusion. There is full intentionality in the color…yet for about 200 years no manufacturer ever made the shoes in brown even when brown girls graced the stage. That began to change in 2017, when Gaynor Minden announced that it would begin selling pointe shoes in brown, followed by Freed of London last year. Before then, black ballerinas had been dyeing their slippers by hand, at home, with liquid makeup foundation (or sometimes paint).

The lack of regard for the mere existence of black people, let alone our well being, has pervaded through the corporate world, and therefore the society and culture created by those corporations. This has gone on for generations worth of time. When impressionable children, or indoctrinated adults, are exposed to this constant barrage of negative imagery it has a clear effect. Multiple studies have shown that children beginning as early as preschool age show prejudice against black skin.

This is certainly about #MoreThanABandage.

Correction: Sept. 21, 2019, 3:45 p.m.: This story has been edited to clarify when Gaynor Minden and Freed of London began selling brown pointe shoes.