The first time New Zealand resident Harsharin Kaur visited India, the country of her ancestors, as an adult, she was struck by the amount of pressure there was for people to change the colour of their skin. All this in a country whose population is far more likely to be dark-skinned — a necessary protection against the harsh UV rays from the Sun that come with living closer to the equator. The form of discrimination that favours light-skinned members of the same ethnic group is known as colourism. A widely discussed phenomenon in black communities , colourism has been, until recently, barely spoken of in South Asian circles, despite the amount of trauma and even death it has left in its wake. Colourism remains a phenomenon in black communities, as evidenced by this advertisement for skin-whitening products in the Ivory Coast Credit: Getty Images. But the May killing of George Floyd that sparked worldwide protests and conversations surrounding anti-racism has brought about a social awakening for people in South Asian countries and their diasporas.
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Facial skin color influences the perceived health and attractiveness of Caucasian faces, and has been proposed as a valid cue to aspects of physiological health. Similar preferences for skin color have previously been found in African participants, while different preferences have been found among mainland Chinese participants. The slight reduction in skin lightness chosen was not statistically significant after correction for multiple comparisons. While broadly in line with the preferences of Caucasian and African participants from previous studies, this differs from mainland Chinese participants. There may be a role for culture in skin color preferences, though methodological differences mean that further research is necessary to identify the cause of these differences in preferences. Since the s, evolutionary psychologists have theorized that attractiveness and health judgments serve as a mechanism for identifying a healthy, fertile mate for a review, see Stephen and Tan,
I'm a Light-Skinned Chinese Woman, and I Experience Pretty Privilege
As a person of color living in Canada, there are two things that I am far too used to hearing from new acquaintances. No, where their comments are really coming from. Calling someone beautiful is awesome. It feels like being suddenly submerged in a pool of ice-cold water, every single time. I'm a light-skinned Chinese woman, and my fair skin is often the first thing people see about me.
Bleach cream, used to lighten the color of one's skin, is a multibillion-dollar industry in the Indian subcontinent. It is also a testament to the sordid legacy of colorism and the damage the ideology inflicts on those who encounter it. That's part of why there's finally been blowback against the celebrities who endorse it, providing some hope that in this era of re-evaluating issues of race and diversity, South Asians will reject Eurocentric beauty standards and, by extension, white supremacy. The damage of skin-lightening therapies is both individual and collective. Bleach creams can use chemicals like mercury and the depigmenting agent hydroquinone to reduce the amount of melanin in the skin.