Nikita Richardson
September 03, 2015 9:56 am

Whether it’s Band-Aids, pantyhose, or foundation, people of color are well-aware of how hard it can be to find something that matches our skin tone. This skin tone issue extends to definitions as well. For instance, let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of the word nude, which until recently really didn’t incorporate people of color. Indeed, the Merriam-Webster definition of the word read, “having the color of a white person’s skin.” (For real.)

One Ithaca College student set out to change that by “ringing up” one of the world’s most famous dictionary makers, Merriam-Webster, and suggesting that the company change the definition of the word to not only reflect the tremendous diversity of skin color among people, but the way words can affect how we interact with society.

Luis Torres, a sophomore at the New York school, teamed up with to launch a campaign on July 14, National Nude Day, called #NudeAwakening. Together, they got people all over the world to voice their opinion on the word’s definition. 

Soon enough, Merriam-Webster heard their calls and changed the definition to a more all-encompassing definition, reading, “having a color (as pale beige or tan) that matches the wearer’s skin tones or  giving the appearance of nudity.” That’s more like it.

“I definitely think it ties into the idea of Eurocentric beauty standards being detrimental to people of color and also just the overall marketing that’s geared toward white people,” Torres told local newspaper The Ithacan. “It’s a small microaggression, the word “nude” itself. Language is the basis of how we connect to people . . . it’s important to not be overly sensitive but also to recognize that words do make a huge impact on the human psyche.”


[All images via Twitter]