Inclusivity in Intimates: The Brands With Shades For All and the Brands That Need a Bit of Help
I recently graduated high school, and with the end of high school comes a bunch of exciting events: grad parties, barbecues, graduation…and prom. For months, I was so excited for prom. I loved my dress, and I was looking forward to having a night of fun with my friends.
I needed an adhesive, backless bra for my dress, but I wasn’t too keen on the idea of spending over $30 on bra that would probably fall off if I got too sweaty. My first place of action was the prom dress store because *surely* it would have exactly what I needed for my dress. Confidently, I walked up to the counter where the bras were and sifted through the boxes. Each box was labeled “nude,” yet none of them would even match my skin in the winter. Still hopeful, I asked the employee if there were darker shades available. She seemed shocked that I even asked. Head held high, I traveled to the next store.
Three stores and several nonchalant employees later, I settled on a bra that was *several* shades lighter than my skin color. This wasn’t my first experience like this and unfortunately, it probably won’t be my last. Intimates in my shade of nude should be just as easily accessible as nude imitates for lighter complexions.
The following four brands carry intimates in shades for everyone, at an affordable price.
I wish I knew about this option during my prom shopping! BrassyBra is an adhesive bra that comes in five different shades, ranging in sizes A-DDDD. For $38, it’s a bit on the pricey side for an adhesive bra but for the quality and shade range, I think it’s definitely worth the splurge.
Nubian Skin was created by Ade Hassan, who wanted nude undergarments that were *actually* nude on her skin tone. The brand caters towards women of color and has everything from bras and hosiery to swimwear. Nubian Skin has four different shades, and prices range from $2.50 to $99. Nubian Skin is definitely the place to go to if you want affordable undergarments, but don’t mind the occasional splurge.
Naja carries everything from t-shirt bras to bralettes, in nude and colorful shades. Prices range from $15-$65, and sizes 32A-38DDD. All of Naja’s products are made by single mothers and women who are the head of their household. And they have a zero waste line, where all of the products are made from recycled remnant fabric! Take a look here.
This one is probably the most accessible on the list. I love how inclusive Aerie is- to see a mainstream brand showcase models of all different sizes and shapes is amazing. Their prices range from $9.50-$38.50, and bras come in sizes 30A-40DD.
And now for the brands that need a bit of help…
Victoria’s Secret is notorious for not being inclusive. Even though their bra sizes range from AA-DDD, Victoria’s Secret has a history of excluding most body types from their fashion shows. When I checked out their nude-color bra section, I saw tons of the same shade on various models. I did see one black model, but she was modeling a nude bra that was clearly not made with women of her color in mind.
The above image shows a nude bra for a darker skin tone, but there wasn’t a shopping link like most of Victoria Secret’s posts. I looked online for it as well, but no luck. And after reading the comments, my experience wasn’t an anomaly.
When I searched “nude bras”, the Google search excerpt for Chantelle said the following: “Discover our extensive range of nude bras, perfect for indivisibility under clothing”. A nude bra isn’t invisible if it doesn’t match your skin tone. And while I do agree that Chantelle has an extensive range of nude bras, the “extensive range” claim is a stretch in the shade department.
La Senza has a large selection of “nude” bras that look exactly the same. I was hesitant to include La Senza on the list because at first glance, the brand appeared to only carry lingerie. However after a few clicks, I discovered their extensive bra collection and its lack of diversity in not only shades but models.
I looked through all of Hanes pictures on Instagram, and this one was the darkest nude shade I could find. Not only is there a lack of inclusivity on their site, I also noticed a lack of diversity in the ethnicities and body shapes of the models. I think it’s a bit confusing to include sizes up to 40D, but not show models who wear those sizes.
My experience isn’t uncommon amongst young darker skinned women. The intimates industry doesn’t cater to people of color, and oftentimes change isn’t made until companies receive bad press. There’s something especially demeaning about feeling like an afterthought in an industry that is fairly essential to everyday life. It’s 2019- I shouldn’t have to ask if stores have more shades. And rather than wait for big companies to add one or two brown bras into their collections to show diversity, I’d prefer to support the companies who made the decision to include everyone from the beginning.