I quite often start feeling peckish when I’m in the middle of reading a novel, and I’ve finally figured out why. Authors have a love-affair with comparing skin colors to food.
How often have you read about a peaches-and-cream complexion? Milky or creamy skin (which always makes me think the heroine may have a skin condition)? How frequently are people of color described as being the color of coffee, mocha, or dark chocolate?
What about wine-dark nipples? Nipples like strawberries? Or cherries?
I’m guessing food is a popular comparison for a couple of reasons. First, “white” and “black” are not just inaccurate but sound crass. Humans can be so many shades of brown that the word becomes meaningless as a description.
Second, I imagine a lot of authors feel the names of real colors aren’t creative enough. And if you’re going to describe something, you usually want to compare it to something most people will understand and be able to picture easily.
Only white men seem to escape the consumable skin color. They can be pale, tan or ruddy-cheeked depending on whether they’re the hero or the villain.
Can you think of other ways to describe skin color without relying on food? Have you read any books that stick out for being creative and interesting in the way they describe skin? Are tasty skin colors mostly prevalent in romance?