It is August 1997 and I am (17 yrs old) collecting items I need for basic training (ARMY....National Guard to be specific). On the packing list were white or nude undergarments and I decided to get nude instead of white. The one available shade of nude was the best I could hope for. It was a decent match for my fair skin but far from a perfect match. At that moment I was a bit perplexed by the singular option but I just assumed that it was the only color that this particular store offered. Perhaps fancier stores in fancier cities had more nude color options. As a young black girl from the backwoods of Louisiana, everything was out of reach and that was the norm. This is also pre-Google times so the ability to search online wasn't an option. We thought we were doing thangs with AOL Chat, dial-up internet, and chatting with strangers all night.
That's me in the basic training photo on an obstacle course/bayonet training at Fort Jackson, SC 1997. Had no clue what I signed up for. I was so tired ya'll! I just wanted to go home in that moment. But I learned to love it.
Over the years, I would continue to look for a closer match in the bra sections of department stores even if I wasn't looking to purchase anything new. Once or twice, I found a very close color match but wasn't able to find any more. The burning question of the actual existence of my perfect shade lingered in the background. Kinda gave up the search and assumed that it wasn't offered. Or if it was available, it was in a luxury line of products unavailable to me.
Nude became my go-to for undergarments moving forward and would be the only color I purchased. For clarity, it was the same generic nude that you get when you Google "nude". The pale and unenthusiastic peachy tan color we all know. So, in my drawer were a number of slightly different shades of nude bras and panties......with a few complete sets. Some were the perfect tone for me but a few shades off. Others were off on the undertone but a close color match. I suppose I was somewhere between satisfied, curious, and hopeful. But at the time, it was what it was.
In 2004, my then-husband asked why I didn't have any other color but nude. I didn't quite have an explanation that he would understand fully. My answer was simply "because". He then put in a personal request for any color besides nude and threatened to throw the old ones out. I was young and it never occurred to me that nude everything might be a little boring. I purchased a few spicy grown-up colors moving forward.