Via Corrente, Sociological Images notes the use of the word “flesh” to describe the color of the dress Michelle Obama wore to the State Dinner at the White House last week (at right.) I guess someone didn’t get the memo that that old Crayola color was changed a long time ago to the less racist (but no more accurate) word “peach.” (I personally would never eat a peach the color of that particular crayon.) Sociological Images notes that “[t]his is what happens when white people are considered people and black people are considered a special kind of people, black people. ‘Flesh-colored’ becomes the skin color associated with whites and darker-skinned peoples are left out of the picture altogether. We see this all the time. Bandaids, for example, are typically light beige (though they rarely call them ‘flesh-colored’ anymore), as are things like ace bandages.”
By the way: that’s an awesome dress worn beautifully, and it’s more accurately described as “champagne,” not (pasty) “flesh.” Aside from the racial implications, “flesh” is just an unlovely and unflattering word. I can’t see it without thinking of the German fleisch, which means meat, and I can’t imagine in a hundred years complimenting someone on her “meat-colored” dress.
I’m glad that Sociological Images raised the issue of Band-Aids: WTF, Band-Aids? I’ve wondered for a long time why “normal” Band-Aids are still peachy-tan. I don’t buy the fake “flesh”-colored kind–I prefer the Hello Kitty, Barbie, or the Sponge Bob Squarepants varieties. Two of the HK variety are on my left hand as I type, remnants of my klutziness in baking my Thanksgiving pies on Wednesday afternoon.