For people of color, there comes a time when you start to unpack the history of racial bias in everyday products.
Kodak’s “Shirley card” set a color balance standard in developed photos up until the ’90s that basically implied only white people were worth photographing properly. Bandages meant to camouflage into the skin worked great if you too were the color of faded beige. And even today, facial recognition software apparently doesn’t know what a black person looks like.
Thankfully, there’s more awareness now that will hopefully spare this generation the subconscious trauma. How to light black people in film and TV has become a master class in itself. Brands have sprung up to make boo-boos a little less obvious for us of the more melanated persuasion. And, at the very least, watchdogs are taking tech companies to task for ID’ing black people as gorillas in their algorithms. What a time to be alive.
And now Crayola is doing its part to give kids the color range some of us could only dream of with its new Colors of the World line.
Adults of a certain generation will recall a troublesome stick of wax with that went by the rather macabre name of “flesh.” First introduced as “flesh tint” in 1903, it eventually dropped the “tint” and appeared in different box counts throughout the years until the name was changed to “peach” in 1962 for obvious reasons.
But even with a more PC name, the range of skin tone colors in any given pack of Crayola has always been limited. Enter Colors of the World with 24 new specially formulated crayons “designed to mirror and represent over 40 global skin tones across the world.”
“With the world growing more diverse than ever before, Crayola hopes our new Colors of the World crayons will increase representation and foster a greater sense of belonging and acceptance,” says Crayola CEO Rich Wuerthele in a statement. “We want the new Colors of the World crayons to advance inclusion within creativity and impact how kids express themselves.”
Colors of the World was made in collaboration with makeup chemist Victor Casale, who has more than 30 years of experience formulating diverse foundation colors for brands including MAC. The colors offer a better, more realistic gradient of colors from “extra light almond” to “deepest almond.” There’s also a 32-count version of this line that includes four hair and four eye colors.
“I have spent my life trying to create truly global shade palettes because I know what it’s like to be with a person who has finally found their exact match. They feel included and recognized, and I am hoping every child who uses these crayons and finds their shade will have that feeling,” Casale says in a statement. “Growing up, I remember mixing the pink and dark brown crayons to try and make my shade, so I was thrilled when Crayola asked for my help to create the Colors of the World crayons.”
Colors of the World is available for preorder and is set to hit shelves in July.