30/ JANUARY 2012
eauty trends have theirebb and fow. Thereis no raging debate onour preerences or thechoices we make – be itthe shape o our eyebrows, shade o our lipstickshades, nail art or hair lengths. Talk skin colouron the other hand, and ammunition at the ready,both sides are ready to re.Skin whitening is a sensitive issue that otensparks strong opinions. There are psychologi-cal, social and political undertones attributedto who people crave a lighter complexion: Is itairytale hangover rom reading o Snow Whiteas a child? Maybe an echo o racial discrimina-tion? Or that most ashion icons we see are airskinned beauties? A marketing ploy that eedson insecurities, perhaps?Women tend to stand divided, believing strongly against or or the quest o airer skin,but the pursuit o the latter seems to be gaining the upper hand as the beauty industry increas-ingly churns out more products that relate toskin whitening.More than just the simple act o achieving airskin, the desire to be airer and whiter is drivenby social and racial implications as we continueto be mesmerised by visuals o air women inthe media. I am sure we have all seen TV adver-tisements (in Asia, Arica and the Arab world)where an olive-skinned girl was duly ignoredby the boy o her dreams. Several weeks later,when she reappeared with airer skin ater us-ing the advertised skin whitening lotion, herboy crush then becomes smitten by her newskin tone. What kind o message exactly are wesending to the young women out there?The tone and message is repeatedly used in somany similar products, we have either becomeimmune to how oensive it is. Not just in ad-vertisements, but every day, in various mediachannels, we are subversively being ed the ideathat only Snow White will be successul andhappy in lie. Ever notice how the antagonistsin TV shows and movies are usually o a darkercolour? Ever notice how out o 12 covers o anygiven magazine, less than three are adorned bywomen o darker skin tones?
Lighten the diversity, please!
The big hoo-hah in the entertainment and ash-ion industry to be more inclusive and diverseremains, just that-a hoo-hah. Somalian super-model Iman is celebrated as a beautiul Aricanbeauty, yet, magazines airbrush her skin colourto a lighter tone to be worthy o their covers.While thousands o other aspiring young A-rican girls who look to Iman as a source o in-spiration, are bound to question their own skincolour. Perhaps it would be easier or them toemulate Iman i they had a lighter skin tone andthus spark the insatiable demand or skin-whit-ening products and treatment regardless o theside eects that may occur.Two o the biggest pop stars today are beauti-ul coloured women like Beyonce and Rihanna.The duo are also strong advocates o embracing their own diverse ethnicity; especially Rihannawho comes rom Barbados. But exactly how e-ective is their voice in empowering women i photos o these stars become increasingly light-ened over time?In India, which is a huge market or skin-whitening products, powerhouse actresses in-cluding ormer Miss World Aishwariya Rai andKareena Kapoor are also much celebrated ortheir airer complexion (more than their acting prowess) which symbolises beauty and success.As this message trickles down to the billion-pluspopulation, all that is let is the constant quest tobe the airest o them all, because only womenwho are air will achieve happiness in lie.
WHo’STHe fAireSTof uS ALL?