Skin Tone Plasters Should Be The Norm Because Small Things Matter Most
Tesco has become the first UK supermarket to launch plasters in a range of different skin tones, posing the question: Why has it taken so long?
Earlier today, February 24, the retail company announced the new fabric plasters – which are available in light, medium and dark shades – are now available to buy in all 741 Tesco stores nationwide.
The plasters, which Tesco has said will ‘better represent the nation’, were developed in response to a now-viral tweet from Dominique Apollon, from April last year, in which he described his emotional response to using a plaster that matched his skin tone for the first time.
The heartwarming message touched many people across the globe, who thanked Dominique for shining light on such a ‘small but important’ issue.
Because, yes, while having a plaster that matches your skin tone might be considered a ‘small thing’ for many, for others it’s so much more than that.
For others, these small things matter – for children who feel ostracised, for adults who grew up feeling ‘different’ from their peers, and for anyone who still feels unwelcome because of the colour of their skin, this is important.
For 28-year-old Chelsea King, who lives in London, these plasters go so much ‘deeper’ than simply having medical supplies that match her skin tone.
She told UNILAD, while on a surface level it’s ‘just annoying’ to have to try and find the right coloured plaster, there’s so much more to it. ‘When that happens repeatedly, with different products, it’s deeper than that,’ she explained.
It’s like being constantly reminded that you are not the standard, that your needs as a customer aren’t valued and you just aren’t worth consideration. Anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider in any situation can surely relate to that.
That’s why the small things matter.
And though her first instinct when she saw Tesco’s announcement was disbelief – ‘How, in 2020, was this a UK first?’ – Chelsea said it has made her feel ‘hopeful’ about the future.
‘Even though this is well overdue and we’ve still got a mountain to climb,’ she explained, ‘we need to see even tiny victories and steps of progress as something worth celebrating.’
Another person who feels hopeful for the future as a result of these new plasters is 27-year-old Beulah Davina, from Bristol, who ‘personally felt acknowledged’ when she heard Tesco would be selling them.
When Beulah moved to Bristol as a child, she was the only black student in her school and always felt like ‘the different one’. An avid reader, she would read Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, which has a story line that is ‘the opposite of [her] reality’.
Beulah told UNILAD:
It was the Caucasian characters that were different and in the minority. ‘Skin coloured’ items like plasters were dark brown and I was absolutely baffled because reading that made me realise that I wasn’t just marginalised or in the minority in school, but also in this part of the world.
‘Skin coloured’ items were never dark brown; it was as if I and my skin tone didn’t exist.
Beulah explained that, while it’s ‘sad’ to think plasters in different skin tones have only just been made accessible in 2020, she also feels ‘happy’ for future generations. ‘Things like this will be normal to them and I can’t even imagine how that will feel,’ she said.
Chelsea and Beulah aren’t the only ones who feel this passionately about the new plasters. 27-year-old Hannah, from Edinburgh, told UNILAD she finally feels represented, saying ‘that’s for me, I feel seen’, while 37-year-old Leah Galley, from Shropshire, said she is ‘so happy right now’.
Leah previously tended not to use plasters when she cut herself ‘because they stand out and then you get the whole: “ooh what have you done to yourself” question’. Now though, she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.
For those people who say it’s political correctness gone wrong, I say live a week in my shoes.
It’s hard for minorities, even in 2020, to feel equal and just as important as everyone else who can walk into their local shops and buy their hair and make up when they need to – and at a non-inflated price too.
As Leah mentioned, this isn’t just about plasters. People of colour still struggle every day to find make up, skin products, even fashion accessories such as tights that match their skin tone. And while we still have a long way to go, the plasters are certainly a start.
Tesco executives accelerated the launch of its plasters because of the overwhelming response to Dominique’s tweet last year, with the plasters being developed in collaboration with the BAME at Tesco network – an employee group that aims to make a difference by raising awareness of diversity and inclusion within the supermarket.
Paulette Balson, chair of the BAME at Tesco network, said they hoped to ‘help Tesco better serve our customers from all backgrounds and communities’.
Balson continued, as per The Guardian:
No UK supermarket had ever stocked plasters in a range of skin tones before and we saw this as an opportunity for Tesco to lead the charge and make a genuine difference.
The new diverse range of plasters are now available to buy in Tesco stores and online, costing £1, and have already had a bigger impact than perhaps anybody could have imagined.
But while we celebrate this step in the right direction, it’s important to remember that it’s only that – a step. In reality, so much more needs to be done for us to exist in a more inclusive, representative society.
The fact it’s taken until now to get plasters in different skin tones than ‘the norm’ only proves the point. Plasters were invented in 1920, so then why has it taken 100 years for them to represent more than one section of society?
Regardless, this is a victory for every person of colour who has ever been made to feel different because of the colour of their skin. This is a move towards acceptance, and towards a future where children will be able to feel like they fit in.
This is change, finally.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
CreditsDominique Apollon/Twitter and 1 other