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The Dark Side of Fair Skin

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 12:00 PM

Oprah was in the house. And Kerry Washington.

Days before the Academy Awards, actress Lupita Nyong'o addressed the Black Women in Hollywood luncheon with a speech that has since gone viral. The Oscar-winning star of "12 Years A Slave" read a letter from a young fan, and entered into a conversation that has gone on for centuries.

"'Dear Lupita,' it reads, 'I think you're really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight," she said. "I was just about to buy Dencia's Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me."

The actress went on to address her own anguish growing up, at having dark skin and perhaps more importantly, how she eventually cast off "the seduction of inadequacy" and came to embrace darkness. The remarks especially endeared her to young women of color, who often grapple with that decision: whether to stay dark or go light.

Nyong'o wrote the latest chapter in a long story, says Nina Jablonski, the author of Living Color: The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color.

"Skin lighteners were created in reconstruction era United States," she said. "By former slaves who wanted to have lighter skin that they considered to be more socially acceptable, that would allow them to get better jobs and not be discriminated against as much as with dark skin."

Even as late as the mid-20th century, skin lightening held a sort of science-fiction appeal for some civil rights leaders. Walter White was the head of the NAACP and in 1949 he wrote, with great excitement that a newly-discovered chemical, hydroquinone, could "hit the structure of society with the impact of an atomic bomb."

Black people, he reasoned, could finally pass as white.

"It could, in fact, conquer the color line."

A $20 Billion Industry

That's not quite how things worked out. Skin lighteners started out in the U.S. but moved into sub-Saharan Africa, then East and South Asia. It's estimated that by 2018, global sales of lighteners will hit $20 billion.

Jablonski thinks the country with the biggest skin color fixation is South Africa, but India comes in second place. And all you need to do is walk into an Indian supermarket such as Patel Brothers in Queens to see the amazing selection of skin lighteners. 

On a recent morning, Dilshad Jiwani was leaving with some purchases, including a bottle of Fair and Lovely, the world's number one brand of skin lightener, according to the company, used by one in 10 women globally.

"It makes me feel younger," said Jiwani, who's been using the cream for 20 years, along with her mother and now, her daughter.

"People look at you differently if your skin color is different. Especially in America, because they're fair and we have dark skin, so we're treated badly. So I want to look fair too."

Jiwani said that in the past, people in the subway would get up and move away from her because she was darker.

"It feels like insult!" she said. "They did that to me, and I felt bad. Now, since I'm white, they don't do that."

The Dangers of Skin Lighteners

Numerous studies have documented the risks of skin lighteners, including mercury poisoning. (The FDA cites Stillman's Skin Bleach cream, a product found at Patel Brothers and other stores.)

"I go to certain stores, and I see African women buying skin lightening creams," said artist and Macarthur 'Genius' Carrie Mae Weems, whose retrospective is currently on view at the Guggenheim. "Really just butchering themselves, just destroying themselves because they're cheap creams with hydroquinone. I use it as a developing agent in photography for Christ's sake."

But she argued that the African-American community had made progress on the issue, in part because of the Civil Rights movement and the rallying cry of "Black is Beautiful."

Carrie Mae Weems

Skin Color in Popular Culture

That can be observed in different ways, including the evocation of skin color in popular music, from James Brown's "I'm Black and I'm Proud" to D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar" and Eric Benet's "Chocolate Legs." 

The same can't be said of India, however. Within the matrimonial ads in a newspaper or online, for instance, people regularly pitch themselves (or their daughter) on the basis of their "fair" skin. In the Indian skin-color hierarchy, fair beats wheatish, and wheatish trumps dusky.

Indian actress and activist Nandita Das is the spokesperson for Dark is Beautiful, a five-year-old campaign, and says the mass media constantly drives home the gospel of light skin.

"Every ad is telling you if you're not fair you can't get a job, you can't get a lover, you can't get a husband. You are just not good enough."

Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan often play along, by endorsing Fair and Lovely and related products, often in ads that highlight the woes of an aspiring actor, struggling and pathetic until they undergo the transformative powers of a lightener. 

And in countless Bollywood songs, the favored term of endearment is "gori," which means fair-skinned girl. 

An Emerging Backlash

Although India is far from changing course on skin lighteners -- just watch this ad for a much-derided vaginal lightener — there are signs that some urban youth consider the cosmetics ridiculous and demeaning.

One hilarious video spoofs the country's light-skin commercials by proposing a lightener for men's testicles. Another, for a faux lightener called Fair and Lovely Inside, promises to go beyond regular lighteners by making people feel white on the inside.

Weems said it's time for people to recognize the "absurdity of color."

"How can you get serious work when you're stumbling around," argued Weems, "trying to figure out whether or not I'm light or I'm golden, yellow, red, what that means? I can't get anything done if I'm trying to second guess your ass on a regular basis on what you might feel when I walk in the room."

 

 

Produced by:

Emily Botein

Editors:

Karen Frillmann

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Comments [47]

Thanks for doing this show. It was a story that needed to be done for a long time. As an Indian American of fair skin, I have always received compliments for being light skinned.

This weekend I donated to WNYC and gave a higher amount due to newer shows like yours, that dig deeper and expose stories that exist just under the surface of society and culture. THanks Arun.

I love this show and hope it continues.

Radha Patel, Brooklyn

May. 13 2014 05:33 PM
Sandeep from Bangalore

Fairness Cream = Low Self Esteem = Screwed up People = Screwed up Society = Screwed up Country! period!!

https://www.facebook.com/boycottstarsandproducts

Apr. 10 2014 06:32 AM
Jessica

I am half Indian and half European with a light olive completion. I have always been envious of Indian women with dark, exotic complexions (but not that envious that I would want to ruin my complexion with tanning). It is ashame to read that beautiful black, Asian, and dark skinned Hispanic women are not embracing their natural tones.

I was hoping that when Obama became President women would look toward the First Lady as inspiration because she has a dark complexion, is beautiful, smart, and is a strong women.
Love the skin you are in!!!!!!!!!

Apr. 09 2014 08:13 PM
Naina from Queens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cii6u64toLE
Rob G, the song starts at 00:43 - from Main hoon Na, a huge Bollywood hit featuring Shahrukh Khan.

Apr. 09 2014 12:39 PM

I agree with AW and I agree about her agreement with me! AWs, sticking together. :)

But, other AW, are you saying that other black people say "You're not that dark" and make other comments on your skin tone?

It seems people of color have this discussion in their own families or ethnic groups. For instance, I think "Negro/ Negrito" are nicknames in some Spanish-speaking cultures. I think "Moreno" means dark features/ hair and "Guero" means light features/ hair. They also say Gordo (fat), Flaco (skinny), Feo (ugly - hopefully not literally).

It's not exactly the convo I'm observing because, P.S., I'm white, but maybe you assumed that.

Apr. 08 2014 08:13 PM
John in Dallas from Dallas

A few things:
For some Hispanics a concern - especially about your kid's boy or girl friend is "El(la) es muy moreno." Or indio.
Around the 1920s tan began to be seen in a positive way as discovery of vitamin D and more uppermiddle class leisure time in the burbs made it a marker of more free time.
And just for fun read George Schuyler 's Black No More for a 1930 take on everybody's - Black and white - absurd concern with the issue.

Apr. 08 2014 06:28 PM

Spike Lee captures the root of the problem with Malcolm X when X is looking in the dictionary - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE84dHl5Nr0

It's engrained so much so in our global culture we are almost hard-wired to look a whiteness as pure and blackness as impure.

Apr. 08 2014 06:06 PM
Rob G.

I am trying to find out the music that was used in the broadcast after the story concluded. Does anyone know? Thank you.

Apr. 08 2014 10:13 AM
Denis from New York

Love the Skin You're In - the Crisis of Skin Color and Identity affects All Races: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Fake-tan-cancer-risk-for-young-Irish-dancers-says-Irish-community-leader.html

Apr. 08 2014 09:01 AM
Angela from Queens, NY

Thank you for drawing attention to a practice that is seldom discussed but highly prevalent. The 20 billion skin whitening industry exists solely because of our insecurities around skin color. Whether these insecurities come from colonization or received notions of beauty, caste or class -- they seem to be deeply embedded in our societies still.
All those on this thread denying that these subtle and not-so-subtle discriminations around skin color exist are in denial. We haven't attained some post-racial utopia yet. And people, stop blaming the messenger - who is only doing his job and drawing attention to a very pertinent issue.

Apr. 08 2014 04:53 AM
Benoit Balz from NYC

This was one of the most pathetic things I've ever heard on any radio. High yellow, purple, gradations of black and brown? This is absolutely insane. People won't sit next to you on the subway, but will if you're "white" (this poor woman will never be white regardless of how much skin bleacher she puts on --- she'll still be Indian)??

So people of color "rate" each other by how light or dark they are?

Guess what? White people don't notice gradations in skin tone in brown people, and could not care less about it. So note to people of color: forget about it. Nobody cares. At least white people don't.

Apr. 07 2014 11:08 PM
SRB from New Jersey

Amazed that no-one pointed out the simple fact that everyone, even white people, want to conform to standards of beauty. In fact people in western countries go to all sorts of lengths to look younger and more beautiful. Botox, nose jobs, collagen, plastic surgery, breast augmentation.. are these any better than using fairness creams? I would say these are even worse things people do to themselves. Its a little racist sounding to point at colored people as if non-colored people don't do the exact same thing.

Apr. 07 2014 10:26 PM
toussaint from NYC

In India, color discrimination against the generally dark colored Dalit or "untouchable" caste is still practiced.
The former apartheid laws in South Africa placed SE Asians below Europeans as Colored and with higher status and rights than the Black African majority.
The British colonial administrations in Kenya, Uganda, and other Anglo colonies of East Africa ranked SE Asians above the Black Africans as well.
The US Government treated and paid Black laborers less than other Latin workers in constructing the Panama Canal.
Color-caste discrimination is the normal practice within Japanese society where an "untouchable" minority still exists.
US popular culture continues to use "black" and "dark" to signal negative and undedireable, as in the financial crises of 1929, 1987, and 2008. The "personals" contain constant and numerous examples of the rejection of dark men by Asian, colored, Latina, and white females.

Apr. 07 2014 10:11 PM
Denise from West Orange

This is a valuable topic because it has a lot to do with people's perception about their ability to succeed in the world. As a dark skinned black woman growing up in the '50s and '60s, I had to live through the indignity of being too dark for the Black is Beautiful times. Black was beautiful if you weren't actually that dark and you had a great big afro, which actually meant you had more white genetics in order to get that big afro. My response was just to walk away from all the madness and do exactly what I wanted with who I wanted. Fortunately I'm smart and am comfortable being on my own, but this continual focus on white is right is damaging the entire world. It's hard to believe it is still a problem after so many years. I agree with the respondent who says that there is real money in keeping people dissatisfied with their appearance. Even at this base and damaging level, keeping people buying products is worth it to big industry. People have to wake up.

Apr. 07 2014 07:20 PM
Lewis from Rockland County, NY

I'm a white guy born and bred in the Bronx. All I can say is I don't get it. Anyone who can't appreciate the beauty of all shades of women of color; dark, light or in between is blind, stupid, or a bigot (self hating or otherwise).

Apr. 07 2014 04:13 PM
Karni from Brooklyn, NY

I come from an interracial marriage but my siblings & I came out with fair skin (but wildly big hair). It is not always evident that we are bi-racial if you are just judging by the color of our skin. We often wished our skin was darker so we could be included and identified as the race we are w/out having to mention it and explain the 'story' which often has to follow since no one gets it or believes it (other than other blacks - they usually know we're mixed). Being fair skined bi-racial created a lot of identity problems as we were not only half black but half Jewish/Israeli - so you can imagine the confusion especially when we returned to the US after growing up in Israel - completely ignorent to the racial tensions that exist in this country. Being a tad darker would have simply confirmed at least one part of the multi-culturalism.

Apr. 07 2014 03:53 PM

I was born in Zambia, live in the tri-state area and have seen this all my life. I knew this lady yrs ago while in primary school that concocted her own bleaching agent by mixing a product called Jaribu with bleach and other skin lightening products and ut ruined her skin. Her skin was plastic-ky, see through and hypersensitive to light. So much so that she covered up to limit the damage she wld get from UV light of day. My step mom used bleaching/lightening agents as well and it worked for a short while but the end result was massive discoloration, far worse than pre- whitening. It's unfortunately sought by some as a means to make themselves attractive but also men give undue influence by making women feel that they need to be lighter skinned to be worthy of them, case in point, the Dusky woman ad from India - just highlights how global this problem is.

Apr. 07 2014 01:59 PM
Scott

You managed turn a idiotic segment into a race issue.

Apr. 07 2014 01:06 PM
Beatrice Boepple Mattaway from Rockland County, NY

It breaks my heart that so few of us can be truly happy with how we look naturally. From the deepest rooted prejudice, to cultural preference, it seems so many of us want what we don't have. White women pay oodles of money & risking cancer just to darken their skin on tanning beds and under the UV rays of the sun. Those born with silky straight hair pay to get it permed and curled, those with curls pay to have theirs straightened, brunettes want to be blonde...blonds dye their hair black...so many asians are unhappy with the shape of their eyes, while many westerners find asian eyes so exotic. Seems like wether we are getting directly ostracized because of our looks or not, something will always feel wrong about ourselves; too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short.
If I could post a photo of the beautiful variety in color of the eggs we get from our 9 back yard hens, I think the vast majority of people would find them infinitely more interesting and attractive then the monotonous white eggs you get in the grocery. It's why people are happy to pay $5 for a dozen! Yet at one time it was thought that the only eggs that would sell had to be all symmetrical and all pure white. So very, very sad.

Apr. 07 2014 12:52 PM

The conquering race is always aped - that's human nature. For the past millennium it has been the Europeans. We are also too concerned with sexiness rather than beauty, money over happiness, social achievements over friendliness. The only way to get out of this mental rut is to work on our character, humanity etc rather than our achievements. I learned from the Quraan a long time ago that those nearest and dearest to the Lord are those that are good to others regardless of color, religion, or any persuasions. We as humanity need to work on our character rather than our achievements.

Apr. 07 2014 12:12 PM
Not A Pretty Girl from nyc

I was watching an interview with a Seinfeld and he was saying that when it came time to cast Elaine the "wise male" consultants all unanimously told him to cast a Blonde!!! And Seinfeld in his wisdom, decided to cast a brunette actress instead.
This issue of lightness/brightness/fairness isn't just about skin color. It's hair color, nose surgery, eye color.
Let's face it, Western civilizations promote the image of the blonde with blue eyes and fair skin - have you watched any TV lately?
Look no further than Nazi Austria/Germany to see how far, how crazed, human will go with the concept of looking "beautiful." There is a diet craze going on to look thin. Surgeries to straighten noses and erase wrinkles. Creams to brighten skin.
TV and advertising is selling Sheeple on a lifestyle "reality" that is purely FABRICATED.

Apr. 07 2014 11:33 AM
katie from Brooklyn

I also forgot to add that when I was traveling around the world at 22, in Thailand the women would tell me I was beautiful just because I had white skin even with a tan, even looking like crap as a backpacker. In India the rickshaw wallahs would call me memsahib... left over term of respect from the raj era for a european woman which translates as wife of the lord because I was white. :(

Apr. 07 2014 11:27 AM
Fiona from Manhattan

Women traditionally wanted fairer skin because having darker/tanned skin meant that one had to work in the field under the sun, which equated with a lower class. It's more about class in many cultures. At least in East Asian where I grew up. Not wanting to have 'White' skin. Besides the 'whitening cream' is used by many to get rid of dark spots not necessarily to bleach their skin. What many of my East Asian female friends want is a lemon-colored complexion, which is natural to many of them, and not what they think is a 'pink ruddy' complexion of many White people. I find it irritating when the discussion is always so simplistic.

Apr. 07 2014 11:26 AM
Mel from Bronx

Skin lightening was (and still is) so prevalent in Nigeria, and Africa, that the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti wrote a song excoriating the practice called "Yellow Fever".

Apr. 07 2014 11:19 AM
Maggie from New York City

I'm a pale, freckled white woman and lived in Harlem for the first year and half I lived in NYC. It shocked me how many African American and Latin men came right out and told me they wanted to date me because I'm white.

Apr. 07 2014 11:18 AM
ken from NJ

What about the flip side? Tanning beds.

Apr. 07 2014 11:17 AM
john from office

This is a topic that requires more time then brian and this reporter have.

Apr. 07 2014 11:17 AM
Carol

yes there are darkening products - they're called self-tanners or sunless tanners and are commonly used by white people. Go figure.

Apr. 07 2014 11:15 AM
Mia from Manhattan

On the positive side, there was a lot of chatter a month or two back in India and among Indians around the world, when Tanishq jewelers ran this ad on TV with a model in the role of the bride who was considered "dusky" -

http://youtu.be/P76E6b7SQs8

(It also caused a sensation because it was supposed to be the woman's second marriage.)

Apr. 07 2014 11:13 AM
Clif from Manhattan

Isn't America supposed to be the great meting pot? Don't we embrace diversity?

I find this topic highly disturbing and I think people who "whiten" themselves or do other (have their eyes done, etc) things in an attempt to neutralize their natural ethnicity are big giant balls of insecurity and are doing the world a dis-service. Think about the precedent you're setting. You're sending a message that "white is best" and if someone wants to make their way in the world they have to "whiten" themselves to do so.

That is a lot of vapid & shallow balogna! I can't even put in to words how disturbing this is for me.

I am a mixed race (black, white, native american) male who has dealt with racism and snide comments about my complexion my whole life. Fortunately, my parents taught me well with slogans like "Black is beautiful", etc. They also taught me that it is about WHO I am not WHAT I am.

I'm tired of these discussions about race. It is a red herring and nothing to do with nothing except one group trying to dominate another.

Apr. 07 2014 11:07 AM
Robert Plautz from New York City

I guess this is sort of an interesting topic. But could you get into the science of this. Does this stuff work? How? Is it permanent? What does it do to the pigment cells? How is this stuff applied? Do you put it all over your body? If this stuff works, and you don't put it all over your body, seems to me you could have some pretty weird results!

Apr. 07 2014 11:05 AM
Alexis from Flatbush

I think that it is important to note that even in the US, skin tone affects life outcomes. Studies show that, for instance, dark skinned black women receive longer prison sentences than their lighter skinned counterparts ( http://thegrio.com/2011/06/23/is-justice-colorblind-in-post-racial-america/ ).

Apr. 07 2014 11:04 AM
Jean Mensing from NYC

On skin color. I am white but in my youth would try to get that exotic tan. Perhaps there is a tone between dark and light that humans believe is esthetically perfect. Alas..look at the Speaker of the House.

Apr. 07 2014 11:02 AM

Some years ago I produced & directed a dance-theater show about body image in Japan. We asked the local performers to come up with things their "critical voice" said to them. They said stuff like: "You have small eyes", "You have diakon thighs", and "You have dark skin". We were shocked.

Here is a mini-doc on that show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j34du-W3EJw

Apr. 07 2014 11:00 AM
Tariaria

I appreciate the topic -- being a dark skinned sister - but I think having an African or African American woman on the panel to help lead the discussion would have been a wise decision especially ince the focus seems to be that primarily women use these products.

Apr. 07 2014 10:59 AM
Katie from Brooklyn

Don't forget that even Queen Victoria was supposed to drink her own urine to be fairer!

Apr. 07 2014 10:59 AM
AW

I agree with the comment from alanwright. I did some research on this a few years ago and interviewed women from South Asia and Indonesia. The issue is that light skin color is associated with higher economic class and social status, and this view is reinforced via advertising and television that show incomplete stereotypes of people of darker skin. The result is that dark skin is associated with low-income and low social status. People do not dislike their dark skin color, they want what is associated with high-income, high social class.

Also, people with white skin often address people with tan or darker skin as "exotic" - like, it's not an intrinsic part of a person's identity. People with darker skin do not think of themselves as exotic, they simply have darker skin.

Lastly, in my personal experience, as a black woman with light skin and advanced degrees, I've often gotten the comments, "You're not that dark" as though my identity as a black woman is wrong, and "You don't seem like a black woman" as though my skin color isn't dark enough to prove that I am in fact black.

Apr. 07 2014 10:55 AM
Rosalie

This is just one symptom of a bigger problem: consumerism based on individuals allowing themselves to be manipulated by others who tell them to hate themselves because of external appearances, whether it be skin color, eye color, hair texture, breast and penis size, clothing style, house size, type of car driven, type of profession, type of neighborhood one lives in, which college one attends, and on and on and on we can go. The more people hate themselves, the more products and services businesses can sell. This is all about big business and political power. We as individuals are the only ones who can change it by not believing the hype and doing what Lupita Nyong said in her speech: teaching our daughters [and sons] to get to the business of being beautiful inside.

Apr. 07 2014 10:31 AM
gina flores from nyc

Thank you for a very important discussion and article.
How sad when it comes to skin color nothing has changed.

Apr. 07 2014 10:06 AM
Fair is beautiful

I'm naturally fair skin and encounter the reverse. To say I love my skin complexion is seen as hating black, darker hues. Such articles may be promoting reverse racism instead of teaching us to embrace the way we are naturally. When I say I am fair and proud, no one sees that as self-love, why is that? Promoting acceptance of one hue over the other is quite negative.

Apr. 07 2014 09:56 AM
Mia from Manhattan

And just in case anyone thinks my previous point was some sort of late April Fools joke, see this BBC story:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-18268914

Apr. 07 2014 09:33 AM
MD from New York from Hoboken

What a positive re-inforcing article. As an Indian woman of dark skin I understand completely the stigmatism attached to it....
I was born in London, UK and throughout my life it is something that has been either subtly commented noted through Indian society or simply racial comments in the 80's by the white British.

I have been in NY for 6 years and there is still a stigmatism attached to having darker skin, there is still a preference and reverence attached to being of lighter shade. It seems that if you have dark skin you can not be attractive or pretty. There are few who look beyond your skin tone and see your facial features - the shape of your sparkling eyes, your quick, easy, engaging smile and the simple beauty in the shape of your face. There are even less people who look deeper than that and into your soul to view and experience your spirit.

There needs to be a change in the media, as there now is with uber slim models - there needs to be a range of different skin toned women from a wider range of ethnicities who promote a healthy acceptance of who we are; people of character, spirit and love - no different to you.

Apr. 07 2014 09:32 AM
Mia from Manhattan

I think the sign that this fairness obsession has reached the pinnacle of craziness is the creation and sale of products in India, targeting women, to lighten their nether regions!

I've also seen ads (here in the US, if I recall correctly), again targeting women, for lightening their underarms.

Apr. 07 2014 09:30 AM
Lucy from Ct

Here a funny little jingle about Skin
http://www.3rdearmusic.com/l

Apr. 07 2014 09:18 AM

In the non-US context, fair skin is often a indication of class. Well-to-do people have professional jobs inside, out of the sun. Royalty is the highest example of this. Farmers and laborers have jobs in fields and the heat and sun. Slaves and so-called "dalit" are examples of this.

In any case, fair skin indicates having the comfort of one's lifestyle.

Of course, India is a very diverse place. People in northern and southern India can be thought of as being different ethnicities: Indo-Aryan in the north, and Dravidian in the south. The people in the South are darker-skinned. Bollywood actors tend to be fair skinned.

Here, the geographical difference suggested by skin tone may indicate a different kind of social currency. It's like the difference between New England diction and Southern drawl.

From my understanding, this cultural norm precedes the invention of skin whitening creams. so, the creams achieve a shortcut or an optical illusion.

American culture is now reversed: a deep, rich tan suggests having the time and comfort to get out of the office and take a vacation.

Apr. 07 2014 08:12 AM
Daniel Martin from Passaic, NJ

I am an argentinian born. I was a missionary in Mozambique and supporting the campaign "BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL" couching a group of high School teenagers. They told me that in class where everybody was black, the teacher used to punish student when they couldn't achieve a certain knowledge, calling them: "you are a black boy" as an insult. Everybody was black, even the teacher. But they had this culture of denigrating themselves.

Apr. 07 2014 07:59 AM
MK from New York

Being of Indian descent, I remember relatives being shocked when I visited India the summer I that I was twelve years old. I had been to a two-week tennis camp that had me outside from 9 a.m. - noon every day, and left me very "tan" (an American term - my relatives said "dark"). I wonder if it's also yet another post-colonial hang-up - I remember my mother being surprised that fuller lips, like ours are "in" now, with women actually getting collagen injections - she reminisced that growing up in India, everyone wanted "thin lips like the Europeans."

When I heard that Nina Davaluri won Miss America, I remember remarking to another Indian-American friend that there was no way she would've won in India - there she'd be considered too dark to be beautiful. My friend agreed. It's sad. So glad that Lupita Nyong'o is recognized for being as gorgeous as she is a great actress - I think her dark, perfect skin is stunning!

Apr. 07 2014 07:47 AM

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