A bandage may be small, but it can have a big impact.
For Dominique Apollon, finding a bandage that matched his skin tone was an emotional experience. The 45-year-old Oakland, Calif. resident recently tweeted about how he had to hold “back tears” when he put the adhesive strip around his finger for the first time.
“It’s taken me 45 trips around the sun, but for the first time in my life I know what it feels like to have a ‘Band-Aid’ in my own skin tone,” he wrote. “You can barely even spot it in the first image. For real I’m holding back tears.”
Apollon went on to say that as a black man, he understands the importance of feeling represented even during seemingly “trivial” exercises like wearing a bandage.
“Not like I didn’t know these strips existed. But I definitely didn’t expect the complex emotions that would swirl as I watched it just … blend in,” he wrote.
“A seemingly trivial exercise I’ve repeated 1000x on my body with ‘regular’ ones since childhood. Self-administered #antiblackness.”
Apollon, who is a vice president of research at U.S.-based racial justice organization Race Forward, also shared his feelings of sadness.
While he was happy to finally see a bandage that matched his skin tone, he said he was also sad that he had spent the majority of his life wearing ones that were made for light skin.
“Like a reminder of countless spaces where my skin is still not welcomed. Feared. Hated. Like, ‘Why am I really thinking all this ’bout an effing Band-Aid?'”
Apollon said that he bought the bandages from Tru-Colour Bandages, a U.S.-based company that makes bandages for a variety of skin tones. In a statement on Facebook, Tru-Colour Bandages said they are excited to see Apollon’s tweets help spark a conversation about diversity and representation in healthcare.
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“It’s been an honour to provide skin-tone options focused toward people of colour in an industry that hadn’t seen a lot of change in nearly a century,” the company wrote.
“Friends, as our name states ‘Tru-Colour’ we hope to release more products and shades in the near future. There is beauty in the diversity ALL our skin-tones, it’s something we want to celebrate.”
People also reacted to Apollon’s tweet sharing their own experiences of not feeling represented and having limited or no options for their skin tones.
“We’re all black but I stuck with clear or cartoon Band-Aids for my babies as well,” one Twitter user wrote. “After all, if beige Band-Aids are ‘flesh’ toned, then… we must not be flesh… ‘Othered’ by a simple medical implement.”
Other social media users thanked Apollon for highlighting how important diversity is, and bringing attention to the everyday experiences people of colour have.
“This was a really beautiful read. Representation in all aspects of life is what we should strive for,” one person tweeted.
“Thanks for sharing. It is amazing to me the things we don’t think about until someone mentions it,” wrote another.
Apollon finished his Twitter thread thanking readers for sharing their personal stories and for listening.
“…I’m glad this thread has sparked some love, introspection, empathy, and conscious actions in others,” he wrote.
“White supremacy is a beast, and defeating it will take all of the above elements and more, applied at all levels of our societies. But the results will be so, so beautiful.”