Your most commonly asked questions, answered.
BY THE ROAM TEAM 10 MIN READ
Condoms that are tinted to reflect a person's skin tone.
In partnership with research and cultural consultancy Word On The Curb, Roam has looked into the need for Skin Tone Condoms and what they can offer to people. We’ve found that alongside providing people an alternative choice to the translucent latex condoms that already exist, Skin Tone Condoms represent a move towards greater representation in sex care and the media, and a stepping stone to better sex education and access to sexual healthcare for everyone.
Traditional condoms, made with untinted rubber latex, have a white hue due to the ingredient’s natural pigment. The darker the skin tone, the more prevalent this appears. The launch of Skin Tone Condoms provides a choice that has never been offered before, allowing customers to shop Skin Tone Condoms, or Original Latex condoms, depending on their preference. We haven’t removed our Original Latex range because this choice is very important. We’ve also made all condoms the same price, to improve accessibility to sexual healthcare, no matter which option you choose.
As well as providing people with a choice, our hope is that skin tone condoms demonstrate another way to challenge the stigmas that exist about sex and open up new conversations.
There are many cultural and religious taboos that render sex a difficult and often harmful topic. This can lead to people, particularly from ethnic minority backgrounds, to struggle to relate or understand sex and sexual experiences, whilst they can also feel a lack of support from family members on sexual health and well-being.
In our qualitative research with Word On The Curb, we found that owning condoms was taboo, something to be hidden from family and friends. We found that 22% of 18-24 year olds felt embarrassed getting condoms, whilst 22% of 18-29 year olds felt shy. When 41% of our focus group used condoms as their main form of contraception, this is too high a statistic. We also discovered that 26% of people use the pull out method, an ineffective and dangerous form of contraception. We hope that by creating these condoms, we encourage fewer people to use the pull out method.
“[I grew up in a] Christian house…so even sex before marriage was a massive taboo…you sneak around because you don’t want your mum to know…so it becomes ‘dirty’ automatically.”
“…Having condoms in my house is bad. It’s something that I have to hide. It’s like having drugs in my house…”
We also discovered that representation in the media and in sex education was poor. In fact, only 50% of people in our quantitative research felt represented in sex education at school, with people who did think it was representative more likely to say gender and least likely to say ethnicity. By creating condoms which are more about how you feel than how you look, we hope to break down some of these barriers.
“[I think what's missing is] black representation...I can't tell you off the top of my head a black ad in relation to condoms..."
As well as representation and diversity being lacking in sex education in the UK, we also found that sex education was deemed to be inadequate and riddled with taboos and stigmas. From our research, we found that less than one third found sex education in school helpful, with only 11% finding it very helpful. This dropped for females, with only 9% deeming it very helpful.
In lieu of good Relationships and Sex Education, 18% of people learnt about sex and contraception from porn and 29% learnt it from their friends. By improving representation in RSE and challenging the traditional means by which sex education is demonstrated in the classroom, we hope to begin fruitful and challenging discussions about the quality of sex education in the UK.
“In loads of cultures and countries, there’s not a lot of education around sex…[for me] these condoms are supporting more open discussions on sexual health and condoms…”
“[I’m a primary school teacher and] if these kinds of condoms were brought out [in schools] then people from ethnic backgrounds might feel like sex is normal, it’s fine…”
This launch has been developed with the community through a discussion on why this hasn’t happened before. We hope to simultaneously offer people a choice, and address existing issues in the sex space. We hope to encourage condom usage and confidence when buying sexual healthcare. We also want to draw attention to the lack of representation for minority groups when it comes to sex education and accessibility to contraception which is why we have partnered with Brook to donate one condom whenever a condom is purchased. Sex is all about how you feel. We want everyone to feel happy, confident and included when they have sex. Skin Tone Condoms are designed for that.
With love and lube,
The Roam Team x