The Beauty Project: Skin Lightening Debate

Back on the 21st May, I went to one of the many events that was held at Selfridges Birmingham, as part of the Beauty Project. It was a Skin Lightening debate that was hosted by BBC Asian Network presenter Noreen Khan and ITV weather presenter Genelle Aldred.

Skin Lightening is something that is very prominent in the Asian and Black community, both presenting the ideal that the fairer you are, the better. The irony of this is that in the White community, most like to tan and be browner these days.

 The debate went into where this stigma stems from and how we could make it better, if it could ever be made better. We all felt that in the Asian community, it stems from the caste system and that the colour of your skin shows how hard you worked. For example, if you worked in a market in Pakistan then you are more likely to be darker because you are in the sun all day; whereas if you are a rich lady then you are more likely to be inside when it is hot. Therefore your skin tone is presenting your wealth and caste. This is just a very generalised opinion and just a brief description of what was said, some felt this was not true and that it just is women wanting what they cannot have. Such as having straight hair and wanting curly hair and vice versa, maybe skin is another attribute of wanting what you cannot have. There were alot of people present that were Asian and it would have been nice to get a view of why most Black women feel fairer skin is better. Genelle did not have this view at all, like me, she likes a tan and rightly so.

This need to be lighter also relates to the make up that you buy, some Asian girls like to get foundation that is lighter then their own natural skin tone and this then makes them look like they have grey skin and it does not match their neck and to be quite honest, makes them look ridiculous. I have seen relatives wedding pictures in Pakistan, where they have put foundation on that is many shades lighter and in order to make it look good, they apply it all the way down the neck line. I did not grow up with these stigma of 'lighter is better' so I do not really understand it, there are many shades of brown in my family and no one really cares about skin tone.

There was so many opinions shared and it was really thought provoking to hear them all, it was hard to think of how to combat these opinions and how to get rid of this stigma that is attached to darker skin.

I think women like Naomi Campbell and Lil Kim show the difference in attitudes to skin colour. You have Naomi on one hand, who is a proud beautiful black women with skin that looks shiny and gorgeous and on the other hand, you have Lil Kim, who has lightened her skin (as well as other alterations) to make herself look, in my opinion, uglier than before. Many celebrities get retouched in their pictures, where they look lighter, I know there was controversy a couple of years ago about Beyonces Loreal ad but that is very different to actually applying bleach to your skin.

I don't agree with lightening of the skin in any sense, you should be proud of it but I have not faced that kind of bullying or stigma so I can understand why.

What's your opinion?


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