Monday, July 07, 2008

Is The Conflict Over "Skin Tone Preference" RACISM....When This Same Conflict Exists Intra-Racially As Well?



Newsweek: Blackout Despite Italian Vogue's recent black issue, the international fashion world still prefers white skin.

Something doesn't quite pass the smell test here. If the author calls the fashion world's preference for lighter skinned models "racist" in nature - how is it that this is so....and exclusive to them when in fact within the Black culture there is also a noted preference for lighter skin and more 'European features' such as hair texture, and facial features such as the nose?

If RACISM is defined as the assumption that one's genetic attributes makes their race superior to that of another...as I define the term then it is clear that "racism" known no racial group boundary. Thus a Black persons who routinely makes assumptions about the physical points of beauty of another Black person that has been derived from that of another race is himself practicing "racism" - if the articles logic is followed.

In a tidy piece of cultural synchronicity, last month saw both the arrival of the latest issue of Italian Vogue, which exclusively features black models, and the debut in earnest of Barack Obama's presidential campaign as the Democratic nominee. Race has been a singularly polarizing, and thus creatively compelling, issue for centuries, but Obama's emergence onto the national and international stage has brought the topic out from the shadows. Sadly, in the modelling industry, attitudes about race aren't nearly as progressive as they appear to be in the political world. Italian Vogue's initiative has prompted some industry dialogue about why black models remain marginalized, but the issue runs across the entire color spectrum, affecting more than just black people. In the fashion circuit of cities like New York, Paris and Milan, or extended to a more international network of major cities like Sao Paulo, Tokyo and Bombay, racism is alive and well. Despite vastly different cultural and geographic contexts, and the unique physical characteristics of each country's citizens, in most places, light is still right.

In India, Indrani Dasgupta is one of the most successful supermodels, and it comes as no surprise that she's also fair-skinned. Hailing from Bengal, she's a beauty in a classically North Indian mould: high cheekbones, wide eyes and pale skin. India has some 'dusky' models (as they are called there) who have found success, but the prevailing standard of beauty remains defined by a genetic characteristic that leaves out the vast majority of the population. Whitening creams are best-selling cosmetic products, and many women, especially in the upper end of the socioeconomic bracket, take pains to stay out of the sun, opting instead for SPF 50. Dasgupta observes, "India is a media-obsessed country and the images that are beamed into millions of homes are those of lighter [skinned] actors and actresses. Everybody wants to look like a movie star, so it really feeds off each other, where art is imitating life, or vice versa."


(The complete article can be found at the link above.

2 comments:

Missy said...

Just because Black folk do it too doesn't mean it isn't racist. Racism isn't relegated to non-blacks.

Constructive Feedback said...

I have coined the term "non-White White Supremacy" where certain non-Whites (ie Blacks) take on the same assumptions of inferiority for non-White groups as a White person might. In my analysis the situation described above is an example of this not "racism".

The word "racism" is too often misused.

To favor the attributes of another race of people, in my view, does not necessarily denote "racism". The preference for lighter skin can also be compared to the recent trend where White women show their preference for fuller lips that Black women have.