Sunday, 27 January 2013


When I was a teenager, I had a cousin who loved Bollywood films. We'd watch them for hours, well my cousin did, and she'd gaze in awe. Years laters, as I became more aware of the Bollywood industry's obsession with 'light skinned' actresses and skin lightening potions, my pleasant memories faded.

There is a trend in Bollywood to pressurise young men and women to either bleach their skin or have the colour of their skin airbrushed over with a white coat. The absurdity of the situation is incredibly hateful. It means you are of no value unless you're fair skinned.

Shahrukh Khan was heavily criticed for this advert:


The message is clear; you can't get the girl unless you're fair skinned. It's evidently discriminating against something that you're born with. Furthermore, it assumes that you are only of worth if you're pale skinned. Why? I believe that idealised notions of 'white' beauty are embedded in religious discrimination, the notion of 'whiteness' and purity. Furthermore, racist discourses become embedded in everyday culture and place absurd pressure on men and women's fragile self-esteem to look a certain way. Cultures built on self- loathing. Cultures and the media plays on these anxieties by capitalising on insecurity and self-loathing.  And if you've never had a problem with your skin, don't worry, they'll create one for you.

You may argue that a lot of paler skinned Western women are equally obsessed with tans. But dark skin is still a taboo, as you can see from the suspiciously light skin of stars such as Beyonce, Rihanna and lil Kim.

Look at Beyonce, a beautiful African American woman reduced to a plastic, Barbie image. How can she possibly think she looks more beautiful now compared to what she was born with?  Rihanna appears to have deep issues about herself, coerced to conform to an idealised cultural construct of what constitutes beauty. It's highly negative as it gives out shallow, destructive messages to her fans. 
You may say that as humans, we are being creative in re-creating ourselves. We all want something different. Something we don't have. But have you ever questioned why? How would being lighter or darker improve the quality of our lives? Think about it.
These are negative, hateful depictions of men and women. The day we stop contributing to these evil skin lightening corporations, we will see a demise in the capitalist machinery that exploits, degrades and destroys both men and women's self-worth. Contrary to belief, the world does not revolve around white, western notions of beauty. All of us are people of colour. We need to embrace and celebrate our uniqueness. Learn to see ourselves for what we HAVE. WE ARE SENTIENT CREATURES, our beauty is distinctive and not reducible to shades of white, tan, brown or black.


  1. As a feminist one of the first things I learnt was that racism and sexism go hand-in-hand. When I first created my blog my understanding was that I would focus on sexism but I find this increasingly hard and often find myself writing about racism or a combination of both. I have come to realise that both of these issues are very important and should be addressed by feminists, because at the end of the day it is women who suffer the most be it under sexism or racism.

    I am currently working and living in SA and have been shocked at the amount of racism and sexism I have encountered. Despite the fact that Apartheid has gone the SA economy is still very much in the hands of racist and sexist white males. I posted a peace on racism in SA on my blog

    Because of this racism and sexism black men start expecting black women to look more light and this intern causes black women to feel believe that in order to be more accepted into society they mus become more light.

  2. Hello Christine, agreed, racism and sexism are undoubtedly interlinked. Living in England, I have experienced both, predominately from white upper class males who are conditioned that they are born to rule, demean and subordinate women. The legacies of imperialism still carry an indelible mark in society.

    What a lot of females fail to acknowledge that by subscribing to notions of 'whiteness' they are reinforcing racist attitudes.

    On a different but highly salient note, South Africa…I was part of the anti-apartheid movement in the eighties. You're right nothing has changed. A few concessions but the majority are still subject to male supremacy. Having researched rape on a global scale, I gather that 1 in 4 females are raped in South Africa. What do you think it's so prevalent?

    Kindest regards,


  3. I have been to the UK a few times and I have certainly experienced and witnessed a good deal of racism from both upper and middle class white men who consider themselves far superior to African people. I am curios to know what you think of Harriet Harman?

    Apartheid was pure evil and its always good to hear from those who opposed it. You are right rape is very bad here in SA. Men are cowards, they will never abuse someone who is stronger then them or who fight back, hence the reason why they pick on women and children. The SA economy is very much dominated by racist and sexist Afrikaner men. Afrikaner culture is very masculine and clearly puts the man over the women. Figuratively speaking Apartheid castrated the black men. This was never rectified when Apartheid went as the economy is still in the hands of the white males. Black men are angry and frustrated and want to prove their manhood. They are too cowardly to stand-up to the white males so like typical men they take their anger and frustration out on their wives, girlfriends and daughters.

    As per usual women must suffer for the sins of men.

    Therefore liberating SA from those thieving white males will certainly benefit all South African women irrespective of their colour.

    A number of my friends have spent time in both France and Italy. They also tell me that these countries are very racist and sexist as there to the white males consider themselves superior to women and Africans.