I am taking another sociology class and my group was assigned the topic of race. Like this class, we spoke about DuBois reading’s and the concept of double consciousness. Basically, not only viewing themselves through their eyes but also viewing themselves through the eyes of others. He felt this sense of two-ness, as being an American, and then being an African American. We decided to take this concept to another level. Not only did we want to discuss the differences between blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians, but we wanted to show the racial hierarchies within the same race. As a result, I introduce you to the concept of shadeism. Shadeism, a legacy of slavery, is a form of skin tone bias that identifies groups and individuals on the basis of their degree of pigmentation. Basically, the inequalities faced by a person of the same ethnicity but a different shade of skin color. While searching about the topic of shadeism, I fumbled across a documentary made by students around our age. Below I have posted the link to the video:
I was stunned to see that the four year old niece of the young lady shooting the documentary already realized that in today’s society light is considered better and beautiful than darker shades of skin color. She even goes on to say ” I need to come white”. She blatantly shows disgust when she answers that her skin color is brown. How is it possible that a 4 year old can already consider herself not beautiful because of her skin color? Towards the end of the video, you see the little girl putting on her shades and hat in order to protect herself from the sun. She knows that by being exposed to the sun, she will only get darker which is unacceptable in her culture. As I kept watching the video, I was shocked to see the unbelievable commercials advertising a skin lightening product called “fair and lovely”, which is very well-known in the Indian culture. The commercial mainly promoted the idea that the lighter you were the better. At the end of the video, the woman who had under gone the lightening process gets the job she always wanted and moves to America. I couldn’t help and feel disgusted when they showed the stages of her lightening process. The commercial just infuriated me because it presented this idea of the inferiority of dark skinned people from light skinned. I kept searching the commercials of the product “fair and lovely”, but while searching for this I found something else. I found an article entitled “Vaseline launches skin-whitening Facebook India app”. Interested from the title I kept reading, and this is what I found,
NEW DELHI — Skincare group Vaseline has introduced a skin-lightening application for Facebook in India, enabling users to make their skin whiter in their profile pictures.
The download is designed to promote Vaseline’s range of skin-lightening creams for men, a huge and fast-growing market driven by fashion and a cultural preference for fairer skin
I couldn’t believe the extent in to which this lightening concept was reaching. The unfortunate part is that the response towards the application and advertising for lightening products was pretty phenomenal. The media clearly adds to this idea that lighter is better and beautiful. If you notice stars like Vivica Fox, Beyonce, and other dark skinned women are lightened in magazines because light is believed to be better. Other celebrities like Sammy Sosa, Lil Kim, and Vybz Cartel have actually used lightening skin products in order to fit this idea of “beauty”. Our society has constructed this idea that light is better, associating light with good things and dark with bad things. Do you believe that skin color affects how people are seen to others? including the people in their own race? Being darker than most of my family members, this topic hit close to home. Where my parents are from, skin color is usually associated with money. Usually the richer or well off individuals are those of light skin, light eyes and light hair. While those of darker skin color are considered to be middle class, and the darker you are the “poorer” you are. It’s difficult to break away from such stereotypes and bias when society is always pushing for that idea. And until we stop promoting that idea, it will be hard to change things. Regardless of my skin color being darker than most of family, I still consider myself hispanic and will always continue to identity myself as one.