F* You Band-Aids

carmel2

Okay, I may be slightly overreacting, but I had this conversation with the boys in Target the other day:

Me: “We need to buy some Band-Aids.”

Aram: “I want Spiderman!”

Me: “Samuel, do you want Tinkerbell (what he got last time) or something new?”

Samuel: “I don’t think I want any color; I want big people Band-Aids.”

Me: “You mean beige?”

Samuel: “Yeah, but brown for me.”

IMG_6395

Me: (scouring the aisle and knowing there is slim-to-no chance I’m going to find brown bandages)… “How about clear?”

Samuel: “Clear still has beige in the center.”

carmel2

Me: (Internal monologue) Dammit, he’s right…. “It doesn’t look like they make them buddy…”

Samuel: “Why not?”

Me: (Internal monologue) Because our society still shows its racist tendencies in the most insidious ways, to and it makes you sound insane if you point it out!… “You know what? They may have sold out of brown! Let’s look online when we get home.”

I looked online and the actual brand Band-Aid doesn’t make “flesh” tones in anything other than beige.

However, this other bandage company does! (We bought some for both of the boys):

soul-aidThere also used to be a company called Soul-Aid that made brown bandages. Their tagline? “Finally, someone thought about you!” …And that pretty much sums it up; it isn’t about the color. My beige bandages don’t match my skin, and I could care less. However inconsequential band-aid colors are, it is more the fact that all but a single group of people have been overlooked. As the mother of a black child, for a moment I thought maybe little things like that wouldn’t be noticed, but my six-year-old had to ask why something was made for his brother and not him, and as stupid as complaining about bandages may seem, it pissed me off.

 

Here is a beautifully written article: Why Is the Color of Band-Aids Caucasian?


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44 comments

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  1. Kathleen 30 May, 2013, 08:56

    It’s not stupid :o(

    Reply this comment
  2. Kathy Dettwyler 30 May, 2013, 09:04

    Brilliant. As always.

    Reply this comment
  3. Jenny 30 May, 2013, 09:26

    with you 100% on this one…. I have often wondered about it but not having someone of mixed race in my close family I am sorry to say I didnt take it any further. I know years ago a black student friend couldnt get skin tone bras here for herself and then I thought how stupid! You want to start a campaign I shall back it. x

    Reply this comment
  4. Cap 30 May, 2013, 10:26

    We discussed this in my Multicultural Perspectives class, and I admit I hadn’t really thought about it before. (Mainly because I don’t use band-aids. I’m not even sure my 5 year old has ever had one, so I kind of chuckled because it sounds like you guys go through a lot of them.)

    I’m not sure I can conclude that it has anything to do with racism, but it is revealing nonetheless.

    Personally, I would prefer the ones that don’t try to hide and instead proclaim what happened, like “ninja fight.”

    Reply this comment
  5. nerida kho 30 May, 2013, 10:28

    I love the line “…and it makes you sound insane if you point it out”. That’s the line that describes my life!

    Reply this comment
  6. Rachel Marie Stone 30 May, 2013, 10:32

    Thanks for linking! It’s not overreacting. It’s glaring that ‘normal’ Band-Aids are basically Caucasian. Peachy-Caucasian, not even olive-Caucasian for those of us (like me) with Jewish roots!

    Reply this comment
  7. Practical Mama 30 May, 2013, 12:09

    Himm! Interesting issue, that I’ve never paid attention to. Especially with all the different cartoon characters they have available, one should expect to see different shades as well.

    On a totally irrelevant note., there is this: http://www.amazon.com/BACON-shaped-themed-Adhesive-Bandages/dp/B000SSV8AA

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne 31 May, 2013, 01:00

      Hah! They should all be bacon band-aids… Except vegans would probably get offended…nevermind.

      Reply this comment
  8. Kimberly 30 May, 2013, 21:07

    I think you handled it beautifully. I love that you spared his heart the realization that this world sucks, just one more day. He’ll find out sooner or later, but 6-years-old, if you can help it, is not the time.

    Good job, Mom.

    Reply this comment
  9. Krissey 30 May, 2013, 23:21

    Wow you know there are much bigger issues in the world and even our own country than what color bandaids are. I swear people will find any reason to bitch and complain and any reason to pull out the race card which would be obsolete if it weren’t for “minorities” always pulling it out. Get a real cause people. Good grief.

    Reply this comment
    • Cassie 31 May, 2013, 01:07

      Krissey, you are clearly unaware of your white privilege. Did you even read the article? Your argument is not only irrelevant, it is offensive. Not only do you have a non sequitur explanation, but you choose to throw out a red herring by telling us about other issues in the world. The “bigger issues”. Jamie seems glaringly aware of crisis issues of the world and is constantly addressing them. What you have failed to point out is that her son, who is a person of color (and I’m going to assume you are not) had experienced his first encounter with his mother’s white privilege that she or he cannot control, and it was very real to him. Whether you like it or not, racism is an issue in our country. Using quotation marks when you wrote minorities and other offensive wording for people you disagree with in your ad hominem response does not bode well for your argument. It makes me sick my biracial children have to grow up in a world where there are many more people like you out there. Are you living in the South? You wouldn’t be received quite so well where I’m from with your attitude. That I am glad of.

      Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne 31 May, 2013, 01:16

      Oh yes, my six year old is “pulling out the race card” by making an observation that hurt him. Nice try. I’m curious what you assume our “cause” is?

      Reply this comment
    • Nerida Kho 31 May, 2013, 02:32

      Krissey, I think you are entitled to believe that this is not “a real cause” but just out of interest, what would be your response to Samuel?

      Reply this comment
    • Cap 31 May, 2013, 10:49

      The extent to which I agree with Krissey is to wonder at what point can it NOT be about race? At what point can it be a purely economical, convenience decision: we’re going to make a product of one color (originally, anyway), what color would the majority of customers prefer? And then the color becomes as much of a trade mark as the name — virtually anyone living in this country in the past 50 years could tell you what color a Band-Aid brand Band-Aid is, and many brands have flopped when they tried to dramatically change the image of their product later. So can we declare companies free of racism only if they offer every single possible version of every single product? Why aren’t there Native American and South American and Japanese baby dolls for sale at my local Target? Are they racist? Is Disney homophobic and deliberately heteronormative because all the fairy tales are heterosexual, or is that simply the way the original stories were told? I would wonder why Band-Aid brand hasn’t developed other skin tone bandages in recent decades, since they now offer a variety of styles. But I do NOT automatically conclude that it is because they are racist, which I define as believing one race to be superior to another. I think it is far more likely that economic projections, focus groups, etc. suggest other colors just wouldn’t be profitable. And they are, after all, just a business. Yes, I am familiar with the concept of white privilege and I don’t deny that it exists. But the reality is that there will ALWAYS be majority-group privilege in a capitalist society. In the ways that I am a minority, I don’t choose to view popular decisions and exclusive marketing as a constant personal attack.

      Reply this comment
      • cc 10 July, 2013, 21:38

        Wow. OK,:
        A) pointing out gross negligence is not the same as accusing someone of a personal attack.
        B) Accusing people of taking something personally, when they are making an observation of fact that a 6 year old pointed out as an inequality… is beyond dismissive, it’s like willful denial / defensiveness.
        C) Racism is not always an intentional act. And it doesn’t always mean something dramatic. When there is an inequality, an imbalance, due to race, there is racism. The degree of its effect and intent doesn’t change that fact. It’s kind of the point … her whole point… yes, Hey… why the heck, with all the different designs and cartoons and stuff that they make… why is there still no variance of skin tone to choose from?

        Reply this comment
    • Hiliary 6 July, 2013, 20:27

      I highly doubt a child that young was “pulling the race card” when he asked for brown band-aids… Did you even read what you just typed?

      Reply this comment
    • nathan 20 October, 2013, 17:23

      And there is always someone who gets uncomfortable or all to comfortable making people feel bad about their heritage.. Black people Didn’t COME here.. They were sold, chained and made to come here. Fuck you lady. While I agree that there are a great many problems in this world but YOU have probably never been excluded from everything from being picked for a team to being able to ask your crush on a date because of something (and it always seemed like the ONLY thing) you can’t change. In my mind… Black (and the resultant bi-racial ) people are YOUR problem.

      Reply this comment
    • rjmatth 26 August, 2014, 23:17

      A child shouldn’t be worrying about bigger issues. At his age he is his world, and the w he feels and the way people react to him are the biggest issues he could have. And that is the was it should be. How do you tell a child that wants to be grown up, wants big people plasters, that even though it hurts and it’s sad, there ate people in the world with worse problems? Worse problems that the whole way he feels he is perceived as a human being (even if that is an overstatement for an adult in that situation, we are talking about a child). This is his life. It’s his appearance, and a part of his appearance that is unchangeable. Of course it’s a huge deal for him. Go get some perspective.

      Band aid may not be being deliberately racist. They may well just be sticking to what they know and making business decisions rather than race decisions. But in a way that would make it worse. That would mean that no consideration had even been made. That would mean that the ” this colour is average enough” mentality had been adopted, and no thought had even been given to other people. The thought that other skin colours are just invisible is sadder and scarier than someone deciding to make a racist decision.

      This isn’t something I have ever experienced, and it makes be so cross that you have!

      Reply this comment
  10. Laura Catherine 31 May, 2013, 05:22

    Jamie,
    I’ve been loving your blog for the past year and am amazed at how thoughtful your posts are, not to mention how dedicated you are to post and make a difference in the world! I just wanted to thank you for this post and let you know it made me cry for many reasons. I’m a mom to two bi-racial kids and I commend you for protecting your son from the sometimes harsh realities we face when it comes to racism in society. Good for you! Keep on doing what you do! Hugs!

    Reply this comment
  11. Crunchymamaof3 31 May, 2013, 06:44

    I guess I am too white because those beige Band-Aids don’t match my skin tone either. Lol Anyways, I love that Samuel questions things like this, my kids just want the cartoon ones or the neon colored ones.

    Reply this comment
  12. LCK 31 May, 2013, 10:05

    Even as a little white kid, I wondered where the bandaids were to match the kids with different skin colors. You can get face powder in hundreds of skin tones.

    And, btw, the ones in our house are a generic brand where the whole thing is clear, showing the bleached bandage part through. It isn’t invisible on anyone’s skin, and doesn’t make any pretense about intending to be.

    Reply this comment
  13. Cyndi 31 May, 2013, 10:06

    Krissey: I guess we should all feel privileged that you took the time out of your real issue endorsing life to comment on our non-issue trivial concern….and you don’t seem to be bitching or complaining at all in your post. Hypocrite much? I guess you are right, some people can find anything to bitch and complain about. Take off your rose colored glasses and join the real world.

    Reply this comment
  14. MRK 31 May, 2013, 13:43

    Jamie, I love this: “Me: (Internal monologue) Because our society still shows its racist tendencies in the most insidious ways, to and it makes you sound insane if you point it out!…”

    That really sums it up. It’s everywhere. It’s in all the little things. And the fact that people think it doesn’t exist anymore is maddening. Unearned white privilege is largely unrecognized. The other day I was talking to a mom who I don’t really know (friend of a friend) whose child attends an elementary school which has a high proportion of Hispanics. The mom, who is caucasian and whose daughter is caucasian, complained about how hard it is for her daughter to be one of only 2 or 3 white kids in her class every year. Now, while I recognize that that probably IS hard for her (and I agreed with her that it was), the tone with which she said it and the few sentences she said before and after made it clear to me that she was of the attitude that it’s alright when the non-caucasian folks have to feel different and like the only ones of their color in their classrooms….like that’s how it’s meant to be….but it’s so hard when a white person is put in that position.

    The real issue isn’t the bandaids – it’s the fact that there are probably hundreds (more that hundreds?) of examples just like the bandaid one on the shelves of the store you were shopping in…it’s the fact that many caucasians don’t even realize the unearned privilege of not having to think twice about the color of bandaids… it’s the the fact that if the discrepancies and unearned privilege are pointed out, some of them seem to have an issue with the fact that there is, indeed, an issue.

    Reply this comment
  15. Amy Brown 1 June, 2013, 18:09

    I HATE that this was even an issue! And I HATE that this is a conversation you had to have with him. If Aram can find “people” Band-Aids (not that he can, since I don’t know anyone who is that color), then Samuel should be able to just as easily! Fuck you, Band-Aids is right!

    Reply this comment
    • Cap 2 June, 2013, 00:10

      Really? It’s “right” to say ‘fuck you, racist’ to people you’ve never met, whose intentions you don’t know, whose race you don’t know, and who haven’t actually caused harm to you in any way except to not sell a product that you would like to buy? Meanwhile, if someone posts a dissenting comment criticizing the author, the crowd gangs up to berate them as judgmental. Interesting what qualifies as right and wrong when emotions and opinions are involved. Personally, that’s not the reaction that I would hope to model for my child.

      Reply this comment
      • Jamie Lynne 2 June, 2013, 06:52

        Lol in Amy ‘s defense she was she said it to a product, not people. The people who have worked for Johnson and Johnson (my MIL included) are not the target of the frustration. The fact that Samuel had this experience that made him feel left out and the frustration to the product is what I was referring to. There were a lot of people who disagreed on Facebook, but It was respectful. The commenter on here is victim blaming and is denying racism would exist if the “minorities” wouldn’t point it out- which is extremely offensive to me. Already we have seen Samuel start to struggle with these issues and to have someone deny it exists is really sad and needs to be called out as part of the problem.

        Reply this comment
        • Cap 2 June, 2013, 10:46

          I can totally understand that response, and I agree that to deny racism exists today is naive and likely to be hurtful.

          I think what bothers me about the discussions on this issue is that many people automatically assume bad intentions. My child asks me questions all the time about why companies do or don’t do certain things, and I give her my honest best guess, which is very often “probably because they believe they can make more money this way.” I see no reason to paint the world as any more idyllic or malicious than that.

          If my daughter encounters a perceived problem, I try to make my first response, “Find a solution.” In this case, you did exactly that — the store didn’t offer a product matching his skin tone, so you found another company that did, obtaining what he wanted and supporting an alternative business.

          If the child was older or really bothered by the issue, I might suggest also having him write a letter to the store director, explaining how the product not being offered made him feel and suggesting a brand that he likes for them to start carrying. Assuming the director has good intentions, s/he may just not be aware of the complex nature of this issue, and may make a genuine effort to rectify the situation, which would give the child a sense of empowerment for future frustrations. Worst case scenario is that the store does nothing, which still reveals more about their intentions and helps you make more informed choices as a consumer. (I would focus my attention on the retailer for issues of product availability, unless the manufacturer distributes products to consumers directly. Plus, the store picking up a competitor’s product because J&J doesn’t make what consumers’ want would send a compelling message to them, as well.)

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  16. Momo 5 June, 2013, 04:50

    It’s the little things that matter. That’s why I like your blog; I can always learn something I would not have thought of. What white woman is going to think about the color of Band Aids? I mean they don’t match my skin either (I’m very pale so practically nothing matches me but I have learned to just use the “beige” ones and not think about it) but I can see how this would be a big deal to a child or to someone who isn’t being represented at all.

    I have to say that although unrelated in a lot of ways, my having moved to a place where the official language is French and English speakers are treated like second class citizens, I definitely sympathize and feel a lot more for people who have been marginalized and people who are not represented (especially Spanish and other language speakers in the US who have to deal with the “English Only” people even though the USA has no official language.) Just saying that I think sometimes it has to happen to you before you can know what it really feels like. Some days I’m afraid to talk out loud, and this is Canada. You wouldn’t think something like that would be happening here, but it is.

    Makes me think a lot more about others and what they have to deal with every day on multiple fronts, that’s for sure.

    Reply this comment
  17. Em 7 June, 2013, 17:46

    Guess I’m the minority whom find this extremely foolish. There’s so much worse to complain about. They don’t match my skin tone either, but they aren’t racist

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne 7 June, 2013, 18:19

      Is the “this” you are referring to my child’s feelings?

      I also mentioned bandages don’t match my skin, either. The point of the post was to bring to attention white privilege which the majority of us take for granted on a daily basis. And yes, this is something definitely worth raising awareness and “complaining” about. Part of the problem with white privilege is that we are taught not to recognize it. http://ted.coe.wayne.edu/ele3600/mcintosh.html

      Reply this comment
  18. Nicole 10 July, 2013, 18:58

    Soo.. Just wondering. Should I be upset that beige band aids are to dark for me and only matches Barbie’s skin color? Regardless of how you answer that, I am not upset. I could never be. Stick with the clear bandages for now – they match everyone’s skin tone.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne 10 July, 2013, 20:38

      Soo..just wondering, is my writing that confusing, or did you ask this question prior to reading the post?

      Reply this comment
      • Nicole 10 July, 2013, 20:59

        I was more so responding to the comments in general. I read this post (or something like it) two months or so ago. I thought it was just reposted until I saw the soul bandage portion. Sorry, my bad. :)

        Reply this comment
        • Jamie Lynne 10 July, 2013, 21:01

          Not a big deal at all…I keep getting the same kind of comments and so I honestly think my writing might be confusing.

          Reply this comment
          • cc 10 July, 2013, 21:47

            Your writing is not confusing… most people truly don’t read (or don’t absorb) all the details in every sentence written.
            I work in communications for a living for years, and it’s been a proven fact time and again.

            * If there’s a salient point, it needs to visually stand out (it’s own line, or bullet point or something), to improve the odds it will be processed by a higher percent of the readers.*

            So, when I read a comment like this thread, I figure the person just didn’t absorb the line where you noted how even the clear bandages still have the beige part in the middle (the picture did help clarify though that by the middle, you meant the part covering the cotton protective piece).
            (That always bugged me too. Just because.)

          • Nicole 11 July, 2013, 06:09

            I think the only thing that was confusing is that I read the post in its entirety back in May. So when I got into reading it again, I thought I already read it in its entirety. I thought comments had been added. So, I zoomed down to the bottom of the page to see what was written. I scanned those and in response, wrote my comment. :) it is not that I did not grasp the bottom part of the post, I just did not read it. I know, lazy. But I thought I read the article in its entirety a month or two ago. That was the only thing confusing. :)

          • Jill 2 March, 2014, 20:15

            It’s not confusing. People don’t READ anymore, they just skim, and then react to a few words they assembled in their heads while skimming.

  19. Tamsyn 10 July, 2013, 20:14

    I’m ashamed to admit that this had NEVER occurred to me before I read this post. Yes, I’m white. But I live in Africa, and am part of the local minority, yet the bandaids are still ‘peach’. Now I’m disgusted! What the actual f@ck!?!?!? My kids also happen to be caucasian, but their godmother is black, and I consider myself pretty good with media/cultural literacy as it relates to gender/race/sexuality bias- I have to wonder, if I don’t see THIS, then what else am I missing? Can I really be so oblivious? I still battle with referring to doctors etc as ‘he’ automatically, but this goes beyong ‘focus groups’ and sales projections, and it f@cking sucks!

    Reply this comment
  20. Candace 20 October, 2013, 17:15

    I came across this article from a friend’s FB post and I’m now a huge fan of the Grumet family! The whole flesh colored band-aids (and flesh colored crayons) issue really hits home.
    I remember coming home from kindergarten crying because I wanted to be pretty. To me barbie was pretty. Barbie was also white, so to a 5 year old African-American girl who had never seen any barbie dolls that looked like her, I was hit with the ‘realization’ that I was not (and neither could I ever be) pretty. A family friend held me in her arms and said, ‘No baby, black is beautiful.’ My response was, ‘No it’s not, barbie isn’t black…’
    I only reference my experience as child, to tell you how important your actions were regarding the band-aid situation. Thank you (and your hubby) so much for being awesome parents who are showing the world what family is really all about!

    Reply this comment
  21. Molly 20 October, 2013, 18:09

    Just FYI, the color of Band-Aids isn’t meant to mimic skin tone at all; it alludes to the color of unbleached bandages.

    Reply this comment
  22. Jamey 20 October, 2013, 19:49

    Band-Aid are capitalists. period. if there was enough demand for other colors, darker colors in particular, they would exist. at least that’s the way this works in 99% of situations unless there’s a secret conspiracy within that particular company. money will sell poison to babies to drink if it will sell. money don’t give a fuck about you, or me.
    and for the record, my pale skinned friends don’t like that beige color either. :)

    you want brown bandaids? make a company that sells them and make it a success.
    i’m not saying money is right, i’m actually anti-capitalist, but people blaming shit like this on racism is pretty stupid. Racism may be responsible for black people not being a large enough part of the populous in terms of spending power, but then you need to diagnose the problem correctly. products that don’t sell, don’t last, and trust me… it’s ALL been tried.

    until then… beige band-aids and brown sharpee markers? ;p
    or buy from that company you found online!
    customer review “I like the item. It is a bit darker than expected but will work for me right now. I will order the lighter version in the future.”
    yeah, bandaid color isn’t my skin tone either. closer than yours but still… GOOD LUCK GETTING THE RIGHT COLOR AND BEING AMONG THE FEW WHO HAVE EVER HAD A BANDAID THAT MATCHES THEIR SKIN TONE! ;)
    <3
    much love!

    Reply this comment
  23. Michelle 20 October, 2013, 22:52

    Coincidentally right before this I read a friends post about Halloween costumes and having the same problem. The sleeves on her sons costume were “skin toned” but only came in beige. Just seems so silly to me!

    Reply this comment
  24. Michelle 20 October, 2013, 22:54

    Oh goodness and now sending in that last comment I realized you had literally posted the same thing as my friend had!!!!

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