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What color is flesh color? Until very recently, Italian dictionaries still defined it as "pale pink, similar to that of human skin." That exclusionary labeling goes beyond the pages of dictionaries. Walk into a clothing store and ask for nude or skin-colored underwear; more likely than not, a dark-skinned person will be offered something beige.
Two brand consultants — strategist Giuditta Rossi, who is black, and storyteller Cristina Maurelli, who is white — decided to tackle the issue. They launched Color Carne, Italian for flesh-colored, to change their country's perception of flesh-colored. Their call to action: "Let's change the color of Color Carne from pink to all the colors of humanity ✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿."
Italian media and influencers answered that call and helped spread Color Carne's message. Their efforts paid off: five Italian dictionaries have now changed their definitions. The campaign also flooded the internet with images tagged 'color carne,' showing people of different skin tones. That resulted in Google searches for 'color carne' now producing a wide array of flesh colors.
Earlier this month, Color Carne won a Highly Commended Award for Marketing Campaign of the Year at the European Diversity Awards.
Defining flesh color as pale pink is obviously dated, discriminatory and inherently incorrect. It holds the color of a 'white' person's skin as the norm.
While efforts to combat this kind of everyday exclusion are growing — think bandaids in a wider variety of colors or cosmetics brands switching from 'porcelain' and 'cocoa' to numbered shades of foundation — there's still much work to be done.
The good news? It doesn't take massive resources to push for inclusion and representation. Bold Stories, the brand consultancy co-founded by Giuditta Rossi and Cristina Maurelli, launched Color Carne with a near-zero budget.
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