In her paper entitled: White Privilege Male Privilege, Peggy Mc Intosh reflects on the daily effect of white privileges in her day to day life. Number 46 on her list is:
“I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ colour and have them more or less match my skin.”
Mc Intosh seeks to explain in simple terms the consequences of what she refers to as:
“…an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‘meant’ to remain oblivious.”
Whiteness is presented as the norm and hence often goes unnoticed – at least to those who are white.
So taking the example of the humble plaster that might seem relatively unimportant; “flesh” coloured is taken to be that which matches white skin, hence flesh coloured plasters have until recently always been manufactured in pink or peachy tones.
But why when members of the human family come in shades of brown and beige too?
A new company called Sticky Skin wondered the same thing and so decided to manufacture plasters in three shades of brown to match skin tones of black and Asian people.
I tried one out myself and it is such a good match for my skin that it’s hardly noticeable until you get close up. I remember years ago having a nasty accident where I had a large gash on my chin and had to wear a large pink plaster to work for a couple of weeks and felt really embarrassed about it, as it was so noticeable.
I showed samples of the plasters to a few ebony-hued women while waiting to meet a friend at Victoria train station a few days ago and all gave the thumbs up; some expressing frustration that the introduction of brown coloured plasters is so recent.
“These are long overdue. It’s a shame that all these years people of colour have been overlooked. We get cuts and grazes, our children get cuts and grazes and have to put up with these so-called pink, flesh coloured plasters that are not their flesh colour,” Janette Banton from South London said, adding:
“I commend whoever has finally developed these plasters.”