In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the social media universe has served as a pivotal tool in advancing the compelling #BlackLivesMatter movement. Timelines and updates across all platforms defiantly echo a collective desire for change and demand for social justice, while online silence has evolved to signify complicity and consent toward systematic discrimination in the U.S. During a time of forward-thinking fueled by grief, countless big-name brands have abandoned their neutrality in favor of newfound support of BLM, in an effort to express solidarity with the Black community and appeal to a multiracial audience.
On June 12, BAND-AID revealed its products will now include a wide range of skin tones — including shades of Black, brown and tan — to expand their inventory beyond just a pink, “flesh-toned” adhesive strip solely advertised for white consumers. On Instagram, the company publicized its commitment to “fight against racism, violence and injustice” and also announced a monetary contribution made to BLM.
For a bandage-producing company whose mission aligns with the notion of healing, BAND-AID is seemingly attempting to mend emotional wounds currently scathing the nation, writing: “We hear you. We see you. We’re listening to you.” However, the sudden display of empathy from the brand comes off as transparent to thousands, notably frustrated Instagram user @natehoekstraa who commented: “You got Supreme, Cartoon, Barbie, everything under the sun, and now you act like Black people exist? Only took riots and death to make a change … Way overdue.”
BAND-AID had introduced multicolored bandages before, according to CNN. Back in 2005, the BAND-AID brand Perfect Blend released a line of bandages available in multiple skin tones. The vast array of shades never broke ground and soon discontinued due to a “lack of interest at the time,” and the brand went on to sell clear BAND-AIDs instead. The Atlantic tells a similar story of Ebon-Aide nearly 15 years ago: a protective adhesive that doubled as “a reinvention of flesh-colored” and featured shades of black licorice, coffee brown, cinnamon and honey beige which more accurately reflected the complexions of BIPOC.
The fate of Ebon-Aide mimics that of the inaugural Perfect Blend line. The company closed in 2002 after suffering a significant plummet in sales, with only 20,000 boxes sold for every 1 million created. But Ebon-Aide founder Michael Panayiotis received phone calls and emails from customers pleading to revive the product as recently as 2013 and subsequently informed The Atlantic: “[We]’re going to see [the product] in the [future] market again.”
Panayiotis was correct. Tru-Colour was eventually founded in 2014 and accompanied by the slogan “Diversity in Healing,” ringing true to the company’s vision of “empowering people not only to heal better, but also to feel better by validating and celebrating the person instead of the product.” Born out of an adoptive dad’s wish to commemorate his son’s ethnic identity and justify the definition of “nude,” the company has grown a tremendous following, thanks to its understanding that one size does not always fit all, says Teen Vogue. Individuals can browse through an assortment of bandage shapes as well as kinesiology tapes, all offered in various hues categorized by the Fitzpatrick Scale.
Tru-Colour has perfected the market that BAND-AID is now aiming to re-enter. They reflected a determination to develop products for BIPOC well before this new wave of companies, whose Instagrammed statements only lately ring sentiments of drive and unity. The brand juxtaposes itself with an ongoing fad in consumerism during the midst of a 2020 BLM era. On Tru-Colour’s digital shop, a plain black t-shirt adorned with bold white capitals serves as the best reminder to both brand names and consumers temporarily siding with this campaign: Diversity is not a trend.
words & design_erin ravindran