Wednesday 27 August 2014

Conversations with Colour

I had planned this to be a colourful photo montage, and even went out taking some interesting photos but then I read something that has made me take a more complex turn. So if you want a happy, carefree read, here is my ColorRun post from awhile back (and you can even catch a glimpse what this old lady looks like, mid-exercise - it's a very rare sight to behold). For a more interesting yet slightly heavy discussion, read on...

As a devout follower of Big Boi's Facebook page, I have been pondering this since he posted a photo of Andre 3000 at Lollapalooza with this on his suit:

"across cultures, darker people suffer most. why?"

Steering away from the obvious oppression with black and white, I'm thinking in European cultures, or Chinese, or even Fijian. Is this the case? And if so, why?

I remember being horrified at skin lightening creams ads on tv in Hong Kong for Chinese women. So while I don't know for certain it is a 'thing' there, I suspect it is, due to the commercials.

A friend, when discussing this offered: "In Italian culture, the southerners are darker and are poorer, and treated like criminals, idiots and worse. "Another friend countered with "In Japan, most woman assiduously stay out of the sun and use skin lighteners. In Bali or the Med, it is the fair skinned Brits turning bright red in an attempt to have a tan."

I keep trying to think of a culture where this isn't the case, as I'm sure there must be many but I don't know enough about the world and it's people, and I don't know how to find out.  I'd love it if someone can offer something up, or even a reason as to how this came to be. If it is something based in history, why haven't we evolved? Why would a prejudice a thousand years old be relevant today? I am perplexed by the world we live in.

Linking up with Conversations over Coffee


  1. I don't have any answers but I do know that skin lighteners are a huge seller in South Africa.
    Me xox

  2. I believe, upper classes and higher castes have fair skin as they are indoorsy 'cultured' types. Lower castes and socio-economic classes are labourers and hence dark-skinned which is to be avoided or you will be considered of the wrong caste. (This I have read about.)
    Seems nuts to Caucasians who spend loads of time on the beach trying to go brown and the browner the better! I wish I were brown!

  3. I am also constantly perplexed by the world we live in. I noticed in Bali that skin lightening creams were everywhere too. I have lived in Sicily and also in the north of Italy and know this to be true, that northerns have many prejudices against the southerners. I must say that this works vice versa too. I never got the impression that it was because they were 'darker' though, but rather because they were 'ignorant' and more dangerous because they had more organised crime. The organised crime aspect is true although over the last twenty years it has diminished significantly. The ignorance aspect is interesting though ... statistically, there are more university graduates in the south than in the north these days! That is because there is high unemployment in the south and high school graduates will often go to university because there are limited job opportunities for them straight after high school. It's a crazy, crazy world though, isn't? Like Jody, I often wish I were darker skinned.

  4. Jodi does make a logical point in her comment of which has me agreeingly nodding my head. Maybe too because it has been the fair skinned that have invaded(moved in) countries where the natives have been darker. Because of the natives lack of educated ways they may have been perceived as inferior. I shrug my shoulders, you have given me food for thought.

  5. The world is a very confusing place. At what age do prejudices kick in?? So many questions.
    What is the perfect skin colour? If darker skin wants to be lighter and lighter skin wants to be dark.

  6. Actually some skin lightening creams aren't necessarily to make your skin whiter - it's to do with pigmentation and to even your complexion if you do have pigmentation.
    I lived in Japan for almost 10 years though, and the extreme that people will go to stay out of the sun (long sleeved gloves, huge hats, parasols), it's almost extreme...

  7. That's interesting about the 'evening' pigmentation. I didn't realise...

  8. I find this fascinating. When in Vietnam - with the scorching heat and humidity I noticed that the women were compeltely covered up. Long sleeves, long pants, faces covered in scarves and even gloves while riding their motor cycles. I thought it was because of the smog and pollution - but it is because they don't want their skin to be darkened my the sun. They go through all of this to be white. It shocked me really, especially as I stood there in ym singlet top and shorts trying to get as much of a tan as possible and not pass out from the heat. I love your contributions to #convocoffee xx