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Dark skin, light skin… what’s the difference?


by Sunny on 15th September, 2005 at 3:42 pm    

We know it happens, so there’s no point even denying it. ‘Bleach My Skin White’ is on ITV1 tonight, 7:30pm, looking at black and Asian girls (though mostly the latter) who are obsessed with lightening their skin.

Black Britain has more on the doc. This isn’t a new topic, yet it doesn’t look like Asians are moving on.

A few months ago we did a series of articles (one, two, three) on the issue, showing how the media (even Asian media) keeps perpetuating this cultural stupidity. Today the editor of Asiana mag came on radio and said that sales drop if they put a darker skinned model on the front cover.

We are in a vicious cycle. The media keeps these traditions alive because it knows there is a demand, while the masses keep getting influenced by all these images. How do we break out of this? And let us know what you thought of the programme after.



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7 Comments   |  


  1. Nindy — on 15th September, 2005 at 5:12 pm  

    I think a lot of what is going on is more the product of the nip/tuck generation where anything is possible:

    You want bigger boobs - sure.
    You want to a million dollar smile - easy.
    You want a different colour skin - come this way.

    Cosmetic surgery has evolved to such an advanced stage, that you can literally become another person. A ‘better-looking’ person.
    It is less to do with an inferiority complex in regards to one’s race - although this is certainly one avenue to taking drastic measures - but more a cause of the human obsession we have developed in looking perfect, to be as beautiful as the rich and the famous, and don’t the media know this. The fact that there are now so many media outlets out there, means we are never free from glamorous images that take sly little digs at us for not looking that way. It says it all where a couple of well established ladies magazine shave now dedicated section s specifically dealing with cosmetic surgery, in essence becoming the devil’s advocate.
    It’s almost become a seperate class system - the beautiful; the bad; and the downright ugly - where if you have a tooth that’ is slighlty crooked, or there dress your wearing is sooo last season, people of the “stepford wife” social strata ask, “What is wrong with you?” And thus, it get’s into your head, that, ‘yes indeed, what is wrong with me’?
    Men too have become a victim of this pandemic; we all want David Beckham’s wardrobe and Brad Pitt’s killer abs. The David Beckham Syndrome has turned us men into a bunch of girls who now compete with our missus for room in the bathroom cupboard.
    Whatever happened to that warrior or hunter?! Jeez!!!
    I myself readily admit to this. Although I have always had a keen eye for all things sartorial, my taste in looking good now goes beyond the clothes I wear. I have to wear the right aftershave, the right wax, designer stubble, and the just got out of bed look is achieved after much labour.
    Furthermore, although I’m not bad looking - far from modelsville though - I’d change a lot of things about me:
    I’m not well built.
    My teeth ain’t like Tom Cruise’s for sure.
    I’m only 23 and I’m panicking I’m receding.
    I could do with being a few inches taller.
    etc, etc…

    Maybe it’s ‘cus I read GQ, I don’t know, but this desire to be more is not through my own choice, but through the media onslaught that says ‘you can be more than you are’, even if you are happy.
    In the end you can do as much as you want to your exterior self, but really, does it make a difference? You’re still you on the inside, and I guess that can’t be changed by a scalpel.
    At least not yet, but that’s a different story.

  2. Nush — on 15th September, 2005 at 5:14 pm  

    Its a shame that this issue just wont go away, I would have thought by now we would be embracing different shades of skin tone!

    I love my golden tan and like my pasty complextion at othertimes of the year.

    I am sceptical that if a darker model is put on the frontpage that the magazine does not sell as many units compared to when the model would be fairer.

    In this day and age I thought there were more open minded, progressive thinking people like me…surely I am not alone?

    Anyone remember the United Colours of Benneton Adverts…they were quite boundary pushing thinking back…

    At the end of the day we are all the same on the inside and the great thing about our global gene pool means we can celebrate skin shades being a multiple of infinity.

  3. rizwand — on 15th September, 2005 at 6:06 pm  

    As Nindy points out, skin bleaching is part of the wider issue of media’s unrealistic representation of people, the promotion of look’s that are not normal, hard to achieve, and often involves shelling out large sums of cash for dodgy products.

    My biggest concern is how this media pollutes the minds of the young, and how they create a sense of inferiority. Once the young are hooked on trying to match up with the media image the cosmetics corporations have them “hook, line and sinker” and can sell endless product to them. This is an example of an industry generating demand where it previously didn’t exist.

    That said, for magazines such as GQ (quality!) and others that are aimed at adults, I am not so concerned. Airbrushing, changing skin tones, removing blemishes etc, etc are all common knowledge so surely it is easy to seperate this from reality. Maybe there isn’t a conspiracy. Maybe they are just giving us what we want?

    If people truly wanted GQ and other magazines (indeed this applies to all media, pop video’s etc etc) to be representative, then why isn’t there an alternative out there? They give us what we want, no?

  4. jamal — on 15th September, 2005 at 11:30 pm  

    To be brief, the media shows us that white is better. This idea did not start with the media, it started with issues of racism, imperilism and superiority complexes.

    The media does keep this alive, but it is too late to ‘kill’ it off. it is now ingrained into many groups, communities, races and nationalities that whiter is better. Only generations of change will make a difference, and this would be minimal while power is primarily dominated by whites.

    One only has to look at the majority of Miss World contestants from many ‘black’ countries, to see howdeep this problem is. Recently i went to an asian wedding exhibition, and ALL the models were white/pale in complextion, many were actually white in race.

    Personally i do not know what can change this, but it is a damn shame, particularly since the majority of the Worlds population is non-white, but “white” continues to dictate and define what is beauty.

  5. Keynes — on 16th September, 2005 at 9:55 am  

    I do not think we should give into despair, there are positive signs that things may improve in the longer term. Whilst it is true that the media appear to perpetuate the myth that white is better, there are a growing number of good, non-white, role models.

    I think the rise of India and other non-white countries, both economically and politically will hopefully improve the situation.

    On the issue of Miss World it is interesting to note that Aishwarya Rai has won it on a few occasions - although she does have very fair skin!

  6. Issis — on 13th December, 2005 at 7:04 pm  

    Yeah, its amazing how the colour of ones skin can influence so much. To me the pasty pale color that I have in the winter is not cute. First of all Im Black and very light, so people tend to ask alot of questions of what I am and so forth. Like in latino countries as well, they pick the whiter latinos that to me are not beautiful, they are very plain in my eyes. Dark skin stands out and is so beautiful reminiscent of nature, the earth. Think about melanin-challenged individuals are prone to skin cancers with sun exposure, they age rapidly, they appear unhealthy at times, not cool. I hate in the winter how pale I get, and in the summer I make up for it. I’ve had two husbands and both prefer my summer complexion. And I can get DARK-umm umm umm. Aishwarya Rai is not the prettiest woman in the world by the way. She looks like a mouse with her eyes about to pop out of her head. Not cute!

  7. El Cid — on 13th December, 2005 at 10:07 pm  

    Ahem. You seem to forget that most white people like to get a tan. In fact if the temperature creeps above 10c, you may find many of us lying in London’s parks, slapping on the oil. It doesn’t take much. We like it when we have a bit of ‘colour’. We think we look more healthy.
    I wouldn’t worry about it, seriously. I’m sometimes a little embarassed, with my fairish hair and blue eyes, that I don’t look Spanish enough. But it’s no big deal. Not really.
    I think Nindy’s analysis is right on the money. It’s just vanity and marketing. We live in shallow times.

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