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August 19, 2011 11:41 pm / takingbacksingle

Are “nude” shoes racist?

I recently decided to give the whole nude shoes trend a try and bought a pair of nude colored pumps. Fashion magazines have been telling me for a while that they are the new “it” color.

Then I realized something weird. The shoes are called “nude” yet for a lot of women this is not even close to their natural skin color. And I wonder how they feel. As a white woman, I don’t have to deal with the same racism women of color do. I probably don’t notice a lot of things that non whites find racist. But I could not help but wonder why stores and fashion magazines have to call this trend nude. Why not beige, tan, or some other creative name? Imagine going to buy nude shoes only to realize that they are not even close to your skin color.

What if they sold dark brown shoes under the color nude? I’m sure there would be plenty of confusion, ridicule and maybe even outrage. Now, it’s impossible for stores to completely avoid offending people, but why not just do a simple name change?

Calling these shoes nude implies that white (well rather beige) is the natural skin color, normalizing whiteness. There was a similar issue with beige crayons being called “skin color.” But imagine being a little black girl wanting to draw a picture of yourself and reaching and the only acceptable skin color is white. Already, that girl is bound to feel uncomfortable with her race and ultimately herself.



Leave a Comment
  1. bonkasaurus / Aug 20 2011 12:35 am

    This is so funny that i found this post! I am in a sorority (Delta Zeta) and a part of our attire is wearing nude colored wedges. But we have 2 black girls in our sorority who were so confused about the color because the nude didn’t match their skin tone.

    -Bianca at

    • takingbacksingle / Aug 20 2011 10:00 am

      Yeah I’m sure they were confused. Did they end up wearing “nude” shoes or ones that actually matched their skin tone?

  2. A.Y. Siu / Aug 20 2011 12:58 am

    It’s less about feeling uncomfortable with yourself as it is about simply feeling invisible, marginalized.

    • takingbacksingle / Aug 20 2011 10:02 am

      Okay, interesting point. I wonder if there was not a single person that thought, “maybe we should just call them beige,” or something along those lines?

  3. typefashion / Aug 20 2011 7:13 pm
  4. teejrants / Nov 21 2011 9:26 pm

    I always referred to them as beige, but then I’m of mixed heritage so I’m always darker than these shoes – not that I cannot rock them, but they are not nude to me. I’ve never thought of it as being racist. I don’t know whether it would constitute racism because racism is ‘hate’, perhaps it would be more ignorance…? However, I am sure I could have a field day with this and the implications it could hold. Thanks for making me think

    • takingbacksingle / Mar 12 2012 12:30 am

      Yes, being white I don’t know how non-whites feel about this, but it just struck me as strange to market them as nude.

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