Fair Skin for the "Win" : Colorism, Skin-Bleaching & Self-Love

We live in a world that was founded by colonization. The roots of colonization go deep into modern societies, especially in countries of color as eurocentric beauty standards have reigned to be prominent in their daily lives. These standards are prevalent globally. In Asia it is common for women to use skin lightening creams and umbrellas on sunny days in order to protect themselves from getting darker. In India, lighter skinned women are favored than those of darker complexions; ironically, having dark skin is what is most common in the country (germmagazine.com). In America, these standards have lived since the time of slavery in which dark skinned slaves worked on the fields and light skinned slaves worked in the house. This led to the toxic belief that those of lighter skin were worth more than their dark skinned counterparts. These beauty standards are a form of oppression that so many of people of color allow to control their lives because it makes them feel “beautiful” in the eyes of their oppressors.

Colorism is defined as “prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color” (timemagazine.com). The act of colorism is seen through favoring white passing people of color. It is seen through dark skinned actors portraying more aggressive characters in the media. It is seen through discrimination by our white counterparts and in OUR own communities. The #TeamLightSkin #TeamDarkSkin battle is one that plagues our community (theodyssey.com). It drives the black community against each other when they are already dealing with discrimination from members of the white community and simultaneously from non-black people of color counterparts as well. The act of colorism is one that forces many people of color into self-hate. The need for acceptance drives said individuals into conforming to the eurocentric values around them in order to feel valued in a society that degrades their very being.

Skin-bleaching or skin lighting cream treatments are common ways  people of color use to conform to eurocentric beauty standards. Top celebrities like rapper “Lil Kim” have been accused of skin-bleaching over the years due to a clear difference in her once deep brown skin tone that is now more of a deep tan. Although she has denied these allegations, it is no secret that regardless of celebrities choosing to lighten their skin or not-the media works to portray them as such in order to work  with eurocentric beauty standards. The media displays various ads and commercials that people of color look up to. They admire their celebrities of a color in a white washed manner,leaving them with little to nothing to look up to. The lack of true diversity in the industry leaves people of color in the dark with accepting who they are,while admiring impossible beauty standards.

(Lil'Kim in her teens and currently)

(Kerry Washington in two different magazine covers within the same year)  

One of the best ways to combat this issue in the industry is to enforce self-love. Especially in younger age brackets in which children of color are losing themselves trying to obtain what they see on their media platforms. Self-love is a journey. Self-love is being fearless in your roots. It is accepting yourself for what is already there and not forcing you into something you can not be. Of course, this implies no shade to those who get work done to feel better about themselves, but when making drastic decisions like that-understand that there is someone out there who envies your skin color, hair texture, or figure. We as a society tend to want what we can not have but the grass is not always greener on the other side, it is green where you water it.


Works Cited

Campbell, Jaleel. “Dark Skin Vs: Light Skin: The Battle of Colorism In The Black Community.”The Odyssey Online, 13 Nov. 2017, www.theodysseyonline.com/dark-skin-light-skin-battle-colorism-community.


Tranchina, Gabriella, et al. “Eurocentric Beauty Standards: A Global Disease.” Germ Magazine, 26 July 2015, www.germmagazine.com/eurocentric-beauty-standards-a-global-disease/.


Tharps, Loril L. “The Difference Between Racism and Colorism.” Time, Time, 6 Oct. 2016,