August 19, 2020
Just as “flesh-colored” crayons are politically incorrect; so too are flesh-colored bandages—which, for nearly as long as we can remember, have been available stores in strictly “neutral” colors, ignoring the reality of multicultural skin tones.
The crayons were phased out by Crayola in 1962 and replaced with a “peach” color; then updated again this June with a Colors of the World product that offers a variety of shades—from deepest almond, to medium golden, to light rose, and all the dark and light shades in between.
What’s more, just as Black Lives Matter took hold nationwide—and after 100 years in business—Band-Aid also finally expanded its shade range this June. About time, most commenters said, while others were quick to point out that other companies already had emerged to fill the gap namely Tru Colour, and Browndages, Vogue Magazine reports.
Browndages was founded in 2018 when Intisar Mahdi and her husband, Rashid, were inspired to provide a better experience for their family. “The bandages we were buying did not match the flesh of our family,” Intisar told Vogue from their home in Columbus, Ohio, “so we thought to create our own company.”
Also drawing from personal experience, Browndages has developed a line of more whimsical bandages for kids. The couple noticed that their three children—now ages 5, 8, and 10—were very interested in wearing colorful bandages that had princesses and superheroes on them. “But none of those images that we’d purchase looked like them,” Intisar says. Secondly, “they couldn’t really grow up to be a princess.”
As an alternative, the Mahdis had the UK-based artist Princess Karibo draw images in the likeness of their own children, illustrating them as aspiring veterinarians, chefs, astronauts, ballerinas, and more. “We wanted to show them what they could actually attain,” Intisar told Vogue.
After seeing themselves depicted in this way, their oldest and youngest daughters expressed interest in the culinary arts and veterinarian field, respectively. “It’s amazing to see how that representation can expand a child’s mind. They start to believe, ‘I can do this too’,” Intisar says.
The Mahdis currently work full-time jobs while running Browndages—Intisar in IT Management, and Rashid in logistics. They’ve divided up their tasks accordingly: Intisar focuses on the customer service aspects of the job, answering emails; while Rashid focuses on fulfilling orders; sometimes enlisting the help of family friends.
Recently, the brand earned the attention of Instagram after actress Lupita Nyong’o posted herself with a Browndage on her knee. “Finally, a bandage that blends!“ Nyong’o exclaimed in the caption.. “Thank you, Browndages for helping me conceal my clumsiness.”
Intisar is still on a high from the post. “It felt really good to be seen by someone on her level,” she says. “It gave us exposure in places that we may not have reached otherwise.”
That attention, along with the imperative to support Black-owned businesses, has led Browndages to sell out of all their bandages, though they’re working to restock the products this year, along with a new offering: a full first-aid kit.
Research contact: @voguemagazine