Nude hasn’t been the most inclusive term when it comes to darker skin tones. From lipstick to a pair of panty hose, ‘nude’ almost always signifies white skin, ignoring the many diverse shades on the color spectrum.

It’s frustrating to search for a pair of nude tights, a nude lipstick or bra and find your skin color willfully ignored. It’s even more upsetting when such exclusive terms are used in relation to women of color.

Such was the case when Michelle Obama’s Naeem Khan gown was referred to as flesh tone by the Associated Press, though her actual flesh is several shades darker.

Similarly, Rihanna’s Nude fragrance comes packaged in a lovely beige box despite the fact that Rihanna’s skin tone isn’t that color. It’s clear that Rihanna and her marketing team didn’t consider the implications of a fragrance named ‘Nude’ in a box bearing the color of another race’s flesh.

Sure some will say it’s just a fragrance bottle and just a color, but what message does it send to women of color when our varied complexions aren’t good enough to sell fragrances…even when a black woman’s name is attached to it?

What do you think of Rihanna’s ‘Nude’ fragrance color, Clutchettes? What color is ‘nude’?

  • isola

    When I see the color nude I usual assume it is for someone lacking melanin. When I wore stockings many moons ago, coffee was my version of nude.

  • Jess

    I can’t tell you how long I searched for the perfect pair of new platform pumps–mind you I mean my caramel hued shade of nude. Or how mad I was when Victorias Secret stopped selling the Miracle Bra and matching panties in the Chocolate color, which is nude for so many women of color. It sucks that for most designers and manufacturers, only one shade of nude seems to matter–alabaster.

  • Natsai

    this pic of Rihanna looks like such a desperate attempt to pass as white! Come on with that wig!!

  • Lela

    It would have been great if that “nude” color Rihanna is wearing and that design of the perfume matched her own skin tone.

  • ?!?

    This blonde hair stuff is starting to get ridiculous.

    I don’t think Rihanna is trying to pass as white because she does other hair colors too. I’ve seen her with blonde hair before, and it actually looked decent. But this definitely looks like someone wanted her to look more like a white woman. Photos get lightened all the time by people.

  • Apple

    I often see several shades of nude(bras/stockings/polish) so I never really had a problem with it.

  • mommaused2say

    I don’t know if we can get too deep with Rhianna? JMO

  • gmarie

    nude or flesh tone doesn’t always mean it has to match the color of your own skin! For a number of black women the nude Rhianna is flaunting actually is their skin color…

    Let’s not play slow here it’s universally known that the color “nude” references a beige/pink tone. I don’t think anyone with common sense is confused here. If I wear nude polish it matches my natural nail it all good in that instance? If we went down the road about what nude is to every skin tone in existence we’d get nowhere really fast.

  • Pseudonym

    I didn’t notice at first, but you may have a point.

  • Pseudonym

    (especially when paired with the super blonde hair and peach-with-no-hint-of-brown “nude” undies.)

  • Bronze

    I know right. I wish they had virtual tomatoes I could throw on the screen.

  • Pseudonym

    I think you’re missing the point in that the question is given WHY is “nude” defined by a white woman’s skin tone and why a black woman would perpetuate that? It’s not a nail polish, it’s a perfume, which hints not at the color for nail polish but of naked skin- and, apparently, the morphing of Rihanna into a blonde-haired white woman for the promo shoot.

    I get where the author’s coming from.

  • Free

    I think black women should take a vow not to wear blond hair. One glance at this pic says it all.

  • Amber

    Black women wear blonde hair. It’s for fashion, not for whiteness. It’s only a problem when that person is light-skinned.And by the way ,Rihanna is light-skinned. (I will acknowledge that this photograph is very bright, but the fact still stands). Mary J Blige has been blonde for decades. Nobody has a problem because she’s not light-skinned.

    Also, “nude” in fashion has always stood for this color.Was the package supposed to be brown? Who would buy that? I think this is naive to the way these things work. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m saying “Nude” means barely there, and so a barely there color (i.e. this pale tone) is that color.

    What does a fragrance have to do with skin color? You could’ve picked a shade of makeup if that’s the criticism you were aiming for.

  • Val

    Lol@virtual tomatoes.

    They would definitely come in handy.

  • Erin


  • Pseudonym

    “Who would buy that?”

    With that question, you just made the author’s point.

  • The Patient One

    Rihanna is light BROWN-skinned.

  • Robyn

    Uhmm go look at pics when Rhianna first came out and look at pics of her now… #skinbleaching

  • dirtychai

    I don’t care about Rhianna’s perfume. What I care about is finding a decent pair of nude stockings for this brisk weather…and also a flesh colored band-aid that doesn’t contrast with my actual flesh.

  • Taryn

    Exactly! When you are a pop star you barely have any say on what your image, pictures, etc. are going to look like. Very sad, but what is more sad is some of these negative comments about this woman. Why can’t we do whatever the eff we want with our hair. Then to add the low blow of skin bleaching? I am personally bi racial and I love getting real dark in the summer and by mid winter I feel like I look grey. It’s not my fault, and I am sure that she is not skin bleaching. Wow.

  • apple

    actually know. that theory was look at her in 2008 and now shes the same color

  • binks

    I thought nude was whatever color your natural skin was…shrugs I know some people still go by nude being beige but that isn’t always correct. But this ad was an epic fail.

  • chanela17

    there is a company that sells bras and panties in 20 different shades to match your skintone. it’s www.

  • YiaYia

    Ugh, the ad itself disgusts me. It screams, “Hey, white girl! Buy my perfume! :) “

  • Gennatay (@gennatay)

    I actually got NONE of this when I say the ad. The author is reaching, but for arguments sake:

    nude   [nood, nyood] Show IPA adjective, nud·er, nud·est, noun
    1. naked or unclothed, as a person or the body.
    9. a light grayish-yellow brown to brownish-pink color.

    I think the marketing was for the 1st definition.

    Everything is not about race and or color.

  • Kulta85

    I never saw it this way…what came to my mind when I heard her new fragrance would be called “nude” was that it would imply nudity or nakedness, not skin tone. Interesting..

  • onegirl

    HA!!HA!! You got me good.

  • Perspective

    Nah – yo! BLACK WOMEN WITH BLONDE HAIR have got to go!

    Next argument will be about SELF HATE and black boys liking blonde white women and the beauty standard.

    Who’s to say he didn’t pick that shit up from a black woman – the way SOME sistas are with their hair. Its just a bit much

    They are really going hard with this WHITE WOMAN DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE THING

    I’ll admit some black women can pull off blonde hair if they are Rihanna color or the Charlie Baltimore type – but OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I can’t stand when I see a Chocolate sista with blonde hair – URKS! the …. out of me.

    Especially when they brush it out of their face with that look of pure vanity AS IF ITS THEIRS.

    Oooooooooooooooooooooooo! I hate that …. I hate everything it represents.

    As I said when they come with those WW arguments I’m like “REALLY?! CHICK?!”

  • Gennatay (@gennatay)


  • T.

    “nude or flesh tone doesn’t always mean it has to match the color of your own skin! For a number of black women the nude Rhianna is flaunting actually is their skin color…”

    Right here in the first two sentences, your comment starts to lose logical consistency.

  • Diar

    First the fat ass conspiracy, now this. Another plot by the man uncovered!

    Thanks Clutch!

  • xta28

    The historical context of the color nude being tied to skin tone comes from European art: nude paintings. These paintings often depicted rosy, pale, and beige naked women.

    Therefore, nude in fashion and art refers to a pink-beige tone. Perfume is marketed as a part of fashion. Hence, for Rihanna’s perfume nude = pink-beige. The name of the perfume is clever because many women like a “sheer” scent, or a naked scent. Therefore, the marketing of this ad not only cleverly utilizes the fashion context of nude (color) but the physical context of nude (naked). Visually, using any dark color hair on Rihanna’s would clash with the soft colors of nude around her, which is why the marketer chose blonde. A light chestnut may have served this purpose too.

    If I had Photoshop I would create two identical adds: #1- changing RiRi’s hair dark brown #2- changing RiRi’s hair dark brown and the nude color clothing and perfume bottle to her complexion. Then I would have people vote between which ad (original, #1, or #2) they are most attracted and makes the most marketing sense… I would bet money it would be the one either the original or ad #1 because again nude in fashion and art means the color.

    I have no problem with the word nude being used to describe a color. However, I do have a problem with not being able to find shades that match my skin tone, medium brown with orange tones. I also would have a problem if I go into a store looking for nude (color) shoes and the sales associate guides me to pairs of brown shoes.

    I feel that this is a battle not worth fighting when it comes to the word “nude”. In Latin culture, the varying skin tones are defined by different words. I’m not Latina and tried to Google examples… so if any of Clutch’s Afro-Latinas would like to provide examples, thanks!! Instead, why don’t we just continue to embrace the hazelnuts, bronze, toffee, coffee, honey, olive and the other variety of words that can describe our skin tones. Going back to the shoe example, how complicated (and boring lol) would that make life if nude described ALL the possible colors of skin tones.

  • Child, Please

    I didn’t even take her skin color into consideration. Seeing that she’s half clothed, I assumed it was alluding to her being naked….

  • Gennatay (@gennatay)

    Please see definition of the color nude above….

    The fragrance isn’t called “Skin Tone”

  • Pink Lipstick

    I don’t see an issue with rhianna trying to make money…

  • Gennatay (@gennatay)
  • Alex

    If anything the nude clothing compliment’s her skin tone. Women of color have always found a way to make things work to our advantage.

  • Mina

    WOOOOOOOW!!!! You know, I didn’t even pay any attention to the actual color of the bottle or the lingerie she was wearing. I just thought she was wearing a peachy color and saying it was nude. I mean that’s what it’s called when someone wears a peachy color. It’s like a peachy, “nude” color. I’m glad she’s not actually matching her skin color bc then she would look nude and it would look extremely awkward to me. But I mean, they can always photoshop it or something. Seriously, this is being way too over-analyzed lol.

    Do people still get butt hurt about not having flesh colored bandaids? Even if it matches your skin color, people can still see you have a band-aid on lol.

  • Mina

    And best believe they will. That’s her target audience anyway. She’s not making music just for black girls that’s for sure. When was the last time you heard her make a song about being a strong, independent black woman that hit on the top 10 of the Billboard charts?

  • Ceefa

    To me it just highlights her blackness!

  • Nikki

    Why is this even an issue? she looks great and the perfume smells good that’s it.

  • Yay!

    Thank you for this one! I’m checking out the selection right now, because even caramel isn’t nude for me! I need a straight up mahogany color or coffee bean!

  • Yay!

    It’s actually www. myskins .com!

  • gmarie

    Fair skinned black women don’t exist? You don’t know of any black women with the same skin tone as that box? Oh okay.

  • Zaza

    Lol good point Clutch! And I’m so conditioned to only think of ‘nude’ as white skin that I didn’t even notice anything odd. You’re right! How can Rihanna be selling HER ‘nude’ perfume, the bottle and packaging all dressed up in white colour skin, when her ‘nude’ is brown? How sad that I doubt she or the creative team that made the packaging even thought of this. Looking at the perfume ad after reading this,Rihanna looks dumb as hell selling her ‘nude’ perfume, all dressed up in a blond wig,wrapped up in a sheet in the colour of white skintone. Sad, sad, sad…

  • Cheryl

    Mountain, mole hill.

  • Frandie


  • Ms. Redd

    lol. that is true.. my nude is of a nice carmel/reddish color… but this is America…smdh.

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