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There is No One Shade of Nude and 20 Neutral Bras to Prove It

There's an issue in the lingerie world that has bothered me for awhile, yet my thoughts were vague and I didn't know what I could add to the discussion that hadn't been said before. One day it clicked and I realized it's simple:

There is no one shade of 'nude'. 

In case you haven't noticed or you're new to my blog, I'm white. Caucasian. Of Western and Central European descent. However you'd like to categorize my appearance, there are privileges and stereotypes that accompany my ethnicity and many I'm probably not aware of.  However, there's one seemingly benign one that's sprung into my head again and again. I'm able to buy countless beige bras that are meant to mimic my skin and disappear under light tops. There's nothing essentially evil about that availability; I'm delighted with the plethora of basic bras on the market...

...for me. For many equally beautiful 24-year-olds on the prowl for neutral bras, there are far fewer options. The worst part? My beige bras are labelled "flesh", "nude", or "naturally nude". That is a clear and pronounced reflection of how the intimates apparel industry understands how women look and which women count. Are brown bras unnatural? Are deep tan bras not a shade of nude? The message is unavoidable: Bras intended for women like me are labelled nude, while every other shade isn't. In this categorical hierarchy, there's an assumed preference for the white customer base and little to no acknowledgement of, respect towards, or status given to nonwhite populations. Folks, that's racism.

 
I'm sure if lingerie buyers, boutique owners, brand representatives and designers were confronted with this explanation of their inherent bias, they'd assure me -- and you -- that they don't mean to make a declarative statement about ethnicity or prejudice. There are a bunch of explanations: The  individuals involved are only parts of a much larger business that normalizes this discrimination. Lingerie is an old-fashioned industry and it's slow to change. More light bras are purchased than tan, brown, caramel or honey-toned neutral ones.While all of this may be true to varying degrees, there isn't any excuse that justifies an entire industry reinforcing and supporting a racist construct. 

Even if this issue doesn't bother you on a personal level, the fact remains that it's discriminatory, intolerant, and extremely disrespectful. I refuse to believe that so many lingerie customers would want to be a willing participant of something like that.  With this in mind, we can change this ridiculous hierarchy of colors and make a statement about how we feel. After all, we're their customers, enthusiastic fans, and promoters.  If we can't tell them what we want, who can?!

What can we do together to make a difference?

We can speak with our wallets. Refuse to purchase "nude" bras. There are many beige bras available that aren't listed as a 'nude' colorway. If we all stopped buying bras described this way, it'd be a wake-up call to an industry that hasn't responded to campaigns, articles, and pure common sense. If this protest seems impossible to you, we can still use our language to reflect our feelings. If every lingerie shopper refused to refer to a beige bra as "nude", brands and companies would be forced into a position of reflecting our vocabulary and our preferences.

In celebration of the diversity of the human appearance, I've found 20 full bust bras that reflect varying shades. None of them are called "nude" and every one I'd wear myself. It's not perfect and it was shockingly harder to find brown bras, but I meant this as a glimmer of hope and if we work together, what the future might hold. 



{Gossard Retrolution, Blush | Midnight Grace Olivia, Cosmetic Blush}




{Elle Macpherson Artistry, Retro Cream | Fauve Evangeline, Biscotti}

 
{Fantasie Belle, Bamboo | Ewa Michalak Toffik, Toffi}




{Panache Loretta, Caramel | Freya Carys, Biscotti}




{Empriente Kaela, Muscade | Panache Andorra, Mink - Bravissimo Exclusive}
 
 

{Wacoal Captivation, Cappucino | Ewa Michalak CHP, Kakao TBA release date}


{Freya Lyla, Hazelnut | Parfait Donna, Mink} 














{Ewa Michalak, Czekolada - TBA release date | Bravissimo Aleya, Mocha}

 


















{Above: Fraulein Annie Falling in Love, Chestnut | Bravissimo Alana, Mocha}

{Below: Curvy Kate Daily Boost, Mocha - Autumn/Winter 2013 release | Fauve Lucia, Chocolate }


12 Comments

  1. Great post! I actually wrote about this too a few months ago and I think we're definitely on the same page-- you took it one step farther and picked out some great bras for a bunch of skin tones! Love love love this post.

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    1. Thank you so much LL! I was definitely inspired to address this topic after reading your post, because I think it's one thing about the lingerie industry that doesn't really reflect a modern attitude towards ethnicity. I felt that something I could offer to the conversation would be to just offer the options that a non-white lingerie shopper has when looking for something that suits their individual skin tone. As always thank you for reading, we love your blog :)!

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  2. One thing that irks me as a black woman is when beige bras are offered as a continuity colour and the brown version as a fashion colour. I wear the Moccha Alana as my nude and want to command Bravissimo to offer it as a continuity colour alongside the black, white and beige.
    That being said, my take on most beige bras is "I wouldn't wear them, even if I were white!" Most women of all ethnicities can get away with cuter colours under most light tops!

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    1. You said it, lesgrosbonnets! And I don't blame you, it's always been a struggle for me (and I think a lot of Caucasian women) to find a beige bra that doesn't look like something you would wear before going in to surgery. And you are completely right about continuity versus fashion when it comes to skin toned bras (ANY skin tone), that if it could count as a skin toned bra for any group of people, then it should be made consistently available. Thank you so much for reading!

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  3. Fantastic post! To me this is one of the more pressing issues to be dealt with in the lingerie industry. It's just plain insulting, and feels like a relic of our culture's old racial attitudes that we're working to eradicate. Thanks for the great list of bras!

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    1. Hey Windie! I completely agree that this is an old issue that needs to be addressed. A lot of people have covered this topic, and I felt that if I could add anything, it would be to just increase awareness that skin toned bras can be found (whatever your skin tone is!) if you are looking in the right places :) As always thank you for reading!

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  4. Your collection of colors proves that variety is the spice of life! Even if you are on the paler side of the spectrum, that doesn't mean you can't wear a darker color either. Chocolate brown or caramel can be sophisticated neutrals for us too. :)

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  5. Exactly Right, SP! I have had some favorites over the years that were darker neutrals. In the end, as always, its just about finding a bra that fits right and makes you feel like YOU, but it would be helpful if the subliminal prejudice in labeling something beige as "nude" was taken out of the picture. Thanks so much for reading as always!

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  6. Simply fabulous post. It's a topic which has frustrated me forever but you have verbalised it to perfection. http://www.lingerie-stylist.com/

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    1. Thank you so much Tamar! I know, this is definitely a very frustrating topic, and hopefully one that we some changes in sometime soon! Thanks for reading :)

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  7. Every single brand makes a beige t-shirt bra so I really don't see how come there can't be more options. I'm usually stuck wearing black bras as my nude, but even then they end up being too dark. I finally settled on Claudette Dessous Mesh in American Tan, which is warm nutty brown. I was even more excited since its a continuity color for them.

    There was a whole big to do, when Crayola changed the color of its flesh crayon to peach and that must have been way back in the 80s. And yet, here we go again with bras being called nude, skin, etc.

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  8. There was a whole big to do, when Crayola changed thename of its flesh crayon to peach and that must have been way back in the 80s. And yet, here we go again with bras being called nude, skin, etc.

    I did manage to find a soft cup, Claudette's mesh dessous in America Tan, which is rich brown in color. I'm trying to wait and see when Claudette debuts their 28 bands.

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