the obsession with skin colour

colourLet’s talk about this right now. It isn’t a new topic and I know it’s been discussed many many times before, but the problem hasn’t gone away. It’s 2016 and we are still making an issue out of something as trivial as skin colour. Judge me, if you must, on my merits and my actions. But the colour of my skin, really? Something I was born with and have no control over?

As a race, we have an almost automatic desire to look for differences amongst ourselves. Remnants of colonial segregation policies only own part of the blame. Even the most homogenous of people on this planet seeks to find variation from one person to the next – by which to then separate themselves, and often even claim a ‘superiority’.

I used to care once whether I was ‘too dark to be considered attractive’ – an artefact of growing up in two cultures where ‘lighter is better’.  And I often wondered why some people, as ordinary as their features may have been, were beheld as beautiful as an unblemished moon on account of their milky complexions. Something did not compute. Yet, I did apply preparations of saffron milk and honey, and avoided outdoor play to the detriment of my social and hand-eye- coordination skills. I had only been to the beach once in 25 years!
My skin tone has not been a ‘thing’ since I moved to Australia. That is not to say skin colour isn’t an obsession here, it is just of a different kind. Everyone wants to be tan, risking skin cancer and oompa-loompa impersonations. I wouldn’t say I have embraced it because that calls for active liking. I just don’t care about it any more.

There are many brown-girl blogs where I commonly see reviews or makeup looks where the foundation used is much too light. The effect is almost comical. I recall sales assistants during a trip to India pushing the lightest shade of foundation, no matching necessary. Of course, the opposite happens here
There are also reviews of skin bleaching creams and pills. Not to mention the trolling on Indian celebrity media sites where skin colour is a constant theme: if you’re lighter-skinned, you’re labelled a bleacher . . . . and if you’re darker (dusky is the preferred term), your merits for celebrity are questioned. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

This post is not about me and it is not intended to be a soliloquy. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What are your experiences with the issue of skin colour?
What frustrates you about it?

the obsession with skin colour

16 thoughts on “the obsession with skin colour

  1. Brigitte says:

    As a mama to a child differently coloured than myself, my perspective has changed from what it once was. I used to only think “why do we care?” In my mind, only Neanderthals cared about skin tone.

    Nowadays, it irks me that, when I go out with my darker-complexioned friends, I imagine people assume my child is theirs. It bugs me to an irrational degree when I regularly hear “what a beautiful colour, so tanned!”

    I’m never sure whether these hang-ups make me overly-sensitive to passive racism, or if it actually me being a tad racist? (Or colourist, perhaps?)

    Why do I care?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Brigitte, for sharing your experience. I don’t think you are being overly sensitive or racist. It is a normal human response to be irked by commentary that seeks to label us in one way or another.
      Forgive me if I’m wrong but I imagine you don’t want your child growing up conscious of skin tone because, as you say, why should you care? It should be a non-factor when it comes to experiencing the world as we grow. Because the harsh reality is otherwise, we rightly become very frustrated with it.
      We need the rest of the world to catch up.

      Have a wonderful day Brigitte x


  2. Yesterday evening, I read about Lineisy Montero, a dark skinned girl from the Dominican Republic who is being requested by every designer in Europe. Before I clicked on the link to the article, I thought, “Please let this hot new model be a black woman.” And she was. She wears a short afro and that was one of the issues highlighted in the article: That she stands out and is chosen by all of these designers because she looks beautiful as is.

    I’m from a post colonial society, too, and skin colour is very much associated with status. The strange thing is, the top design houses in Europe recruit our darker skinned women and send them down runways or put them in magazine ads to sell product.

    People at home are in denial about the beauty of diversity. They want their women heavy, with large bottoms, large chests, narrow nose bridges, long straight hair (theirs/not theirs, it doesn’t matter) and fair skin. Most women in our society don’t look like that. But we all watch cable TV and this is the soup we are fed.

    So, the tall, skinny girls go abroad to find a little acceptance and receive it in such a big way. It’s impossible to believe that these celebrated women would not get a second look at home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How right you are SB! Diversity is to be celebrated – yet the notion of what is beautiful is completely archaic and captures only a small slice of the population.
      In many ways, the grass is greener in many people’s minds because, as you say, the bodies on television and in magazines are so far removed from what is familiar, that is apparently now what we want – exactly the opposite of what we are.

      Lineisy Monteiro is stunning and I think she is so, regardless of skin colour or hair type.
      It is a shame that anyone would not find acceptance and celebration amongst their own.

      Thank you SB for your insights. Have a wonderful day xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Deb says:

    I had to unfollow a friend on Facebook because he kept making posts in praise of Yellow yellows(light skinned ladies)and putting down dark skinned ladies. I don’t understand how we can’t see past this as an issue to be honest.


    1. Exactly – skin colour has nothing to do with it.
      And because what is beautiful to me might be different to what is beautiful to you, it is unfair and stupid to hold everyone against an arbitrary standard that perpetuates classism, segregation, racism, and elitism.
      I’ll have a look at your page – thank you Rey! x


  4. I can relate so much to your experiences on skin color. I also live in a country very much like India. And yes, our sales people also push lighter foundation on us. I was once asked by a sales person, “but, don’t you want to look white?”. I didn’t know how to respond to that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! They would have gotten an ear bashing from me. How presumptuous!
      What is sickening is that there are young, educated, intelligent people, mostly female who are perpetuating this colourism.
      I have followed a certain blog for years and can’t help but note that the foundations reviewed on it tend to be on the lighter side. Too light, in fact, and obviously so. Yet the post typically states it is a ‘perfect match’. And NC-whatever is worn like a badge of honour, provided it is in the 20s. Because, you know, no one wants to be in the NC40s.
      Baffling really.

      A former colleague who is a woman of colour left me bewildered when she said she was the same colour as another woman – the latter woman is much lighter skinned. Denial or genuine misconception?
      Go figure!


      1. I encounter that a lot, too. I don’t know if I’m just using foundations that are too dark on me but I’ve met a few people who seem to be darker than me but are using the same foundation shade I use. And I’m pretty sure I’m using my match, I mean, you’ve seen my face quite a lot in photos.

        Anyway, whitening will still be big in Philippines with some people justifying it as something like lipstick that could make you feel empowered. I feel it more as a manifestation of self-hate. I also get annoyed when people complement my skin when it’s lighter. Gah.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Everybody wants what they don’t have, which is sad. These people are beautiful already, so much more beautiful than they will ever know.
    You know what bothers me the most? These beautiful black women wearing weaves and complaining that their hair is too nappy… if they’d just let it be, they’d be a sight to behold! There is absolutely IMHO nothing sexier than a black woman with an afro, or even a shaved head (think Whitney Houston on her tour of Africa). The same goes for every other race and creed. We are all uniquely attractive and beautiful…
    But I digress : ) People just have a hard time loving themselves, because everyone else is telling them with and without words that they are not good enough.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a song that comes to mind, it has the line: Don’t let them sell a false version of you to you.
      And I think it rings so true no matter who you apply it to. As you rightly point out, Meno, we keep being told that we’re not good enough unless we change ourselves to look like something (someone) else.
      We need more role models to show us that we’re already perfect until we are ready to believe it ourselves.
      Thanks for your contribution Meno. You are welcome here any time xx

      Liked by 1 person

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