A complaint by a feminist, anti-racist ‘blogger’ has prompted a Swedish pharmacy chain to search out a manufacturer of ‘dark’ band-aids.
A discussion on government-funded Radio Sweden precipitated the controversy, as a spokeswoman for the national Apoteket chain of pharmacies went head-to-head with Every Day Racism blog author and Left-party campaigner Paula Dahlberg.
Triggering a national discussion about whether sticking plasters are a symptom of something more sinister, Dahlberg said the beige coloured patches were symptomatic of what she called the everyday “whiteness norm” where manufacturers presumed their customers to be white by default.
She said on radio: “Usually I try and find a clear plaster, to try and be a little more discreet, precisely because there are no plasters available close to my skin colour… its part of what is usually called the whiteness norm, that white people are normal”.
White people currently make up around 90-per-cent of the Swedish population.
Pharmacy spokesman Eva Fernvall was absolutely horrified to have the charge of racism levelled at her, and remarked “It is a bit embarrassing that we haven’t thought of it ourselves”, promising to stock darker hues in future.
She may very well struggle. It seems the production of the familiar beige plasters is a matter of economics – they sell well and are profitable. An article in magazine The Atlantic recalls the fate of previous attempts to produce sticking plasters in any shade of human flesh as long as it wasn’t pink.
Despite being very popular with political activists, ‘Ebon-aid’ plasters marketed in the United States in the 1990s sold only 20,000 boxes of their original one million pack production run, bankrupting the company and costing the investors their start-up capital. Such a noted public failure of the product might curtail interest by potential manufacturers for the time being, at least until there are more “new Swedes” to buy them, as it is put by the Swedish Free Press.