There are two words in the English language that no fashionista can resist -- Annual Sale. And just in time, because I’d been wanting to purchase a few brown bras for everyday use. Excitedly, I rushed to browse the store’s inventory in search of the perfect bra, or at least a near-perfect one. But much to my dismay, this particular store didn’t have even one brown bra available.
It brought back memories of my childhood, watching my mom dye my tights because manufacturers didn’t make them to match my skin color. And here I was, more than 20 years later still experiencing the same lack of inclusion being practiced by one of the largest lingerie stores in the U.S. How’s that for post-racial America?
But while there were no brown bras to choose from, there were countless “nude” bras. Peachy, beige, buff-colored bras aplenty in every style you could think of. Basically, NOT MY NUDE. And that got me thinking… Why not start a campaign to draw attention to this issue?
I mean after all, my mom, in addition to dyeing tights, has been buying nude bras and dyeing them brown for the last 30 years. And if my mom can dye nude bras brown, surely bra makers have the capability of doing the same. And that’s the moment when the "What’s My Nude" campaign was born.
Now before you raise your hand to tell me you saw a brown bra on some random website, or at a major retailer in your area, I want to say that yes, I do realize that there are brown bras in the marketplace. But very few. And I ask you to consider, how fair is it for a woman of color to have to visit five or six stores before she finds a brown bra? Meanwhile EVERY store in America that sells lingerie regularly and consistently stocks peachy, beige, buff-colored, nude bras.
Not to mention the number of women who have reported finding and purchasing a brown bra that they liked only to find that the bra has either not been re-stocked or has been completely discontinued upon their next visit. So I shared my frustration with friends and family members, contacted bloggers and fashion journalists, and used social media to reach out to other women who shared my frustration. The response was overwhelming.
Nearly 3,000 people “Liked” the "What’s Your Nude" Facebook page, hundreds of people tweeted about it the campaign and major news organizations covered it. And on February 1, campaign participants didn’t disappoint. They sent emails and made phone calls to lingerie brands and major retailers and asked for more brown bras. But while the response from women, and even some men, was overwhelming, the response from bra makers and retailers was disappointing to say the least.
Campaign participants reported canned, lukewarm responses thanking them for their correspondence and empty promises to "look into the matter" from customer service representatives. GET THIS: Not one decision maker at a major lingerie brand or major retailer called or emailed to say, “We Hear You, We Understand, We’re Going to Fix This.” And isn’t that all any scorned consumer ever really wants?
I mean, don’t you think this issue deserves more than a form letter? Well, I do. So that’s why I’ve decided to extend the "What’s Your Nude" campaign until our voices are heard.
On Feb. 3 - 10, I’m asking women (and men) to participate in the Brown Bra Scavenger Hunt. Simply visit major retailers and take photos or videos brown bras or the absence of brown bras and post them to Facebook.com/morebrownbras or tweet them using the #whatsyournude hashtag. At the conclusion of the scavenger hunt, a random participant will be selected to win a brown bra from BeingU, a newly launching nude lingerie collection for women of color by women of color.
Just the other day, a male CBS investigative journalist accompanied me to a major retailer in the Los Angeles area in search of brown bras. And I got the sense that even though he was covering the story, he didn’t really understand the point. While in the store, we saw lot of brown shoppers, however, when we arrived at the lingerie department, there wasn’t a single brown bra to me found. He looked at me in utter disbelief and I thought to myself, “This is what I’ve been trying to tell you.”
Seeing is believing, so I hope you’ll help me not just tell, but show bra makers and retailers why this is important, and why this issue deserves not only their attention, but also their action. For more information on how to get involved with the "What’s Your Nude" campaign, visit www.Facebook.com/morebrownbras. Visit www.youtube.com/whatsyournude for a video on how to participate in the Brown Bra Scavenger Hunt.