Okay folks, I am going to go ahead and just ask a question that apparently is on a lot of folks’ minds these days.

And that is this: What’s the deal with this whole skin lightening stuff, especially in Hollywood…? And who is actually responsible for turning the beautiful copper and chocolate brown tones of our leading stars into something less than?

Well a number of folks are asking this question after seeing the cover of Entertainment Weekly that featured a visibly ‘paler-toned’ version of Scandal star Kerry Washington.

Several web writers began pointing out the star’s faded color and suggesting what they felt was behind it. Jessica Wakeman, a contributor for the popular women’s website The Frisky, was one of the first to point it out, saying that the talented actress was “looking a lot lighter-skinned.”

Wakeman went on to reference the recent and similar controversy surrounding soulful songstress India Arie whose cover image from her new single Cocoa Butter showed a lighter version of the ironically-proud singer of the self-affirming tune, Brown Skin.

Arie denied lightening her complexion in any way, saying it was a result of the lighting.

Which actually raises an important issue… Who is ultimately responsible for these faded images? The stars or the editors?

Remember, there are entire departments of employees vested with the task of presenting a cover image to their readers…And yes, lighting commonly pales many a darker complexion in the photo and film industries, though Entertainment Weekly recently denied doing so.

Yet those lighting and production specialists know this.  They know full well when someone appears much lighter than their actual complexion and I have a sneaky suspicion they also feel a lighter African American is a more marketable African American to their majority less-melanated audience.

It also sends a not-so-subliminal message to us as a people, doesn’t it…? One telling us and our children that, to make it big in America, you have to abandon your sense of culture and heritage and become more like the majority race.

And that’s a shame. So we all need to stay vigilante and watch for images and depictions of us that try to hide the beauty of our skin tone, culture and heritage. It’s bad enough we have some African Americans doing these horrible things to themselves; we certainly don’t need someone else doing it to us.

I’ll close with these words that I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times.

“If you don’t love yourself, then no one else will.”

Also On Black America Web:

3 thoughts on “Lighten Up

  1. I have been noticing the changes too, especially when they made Gabrielle Sidibe lighter. Over the years, it has become BLATANTLY obvious and they need to stop it! And most importantly, stop lying and saying it is the lighting. Balderdash!
    Why do we have to conform ourselves into “their” liking and way of thinking and just appreciate our beautiful skin tone as well as the size of our lips and noses? (I am so glad that Steve Harvey proudly points out his nose and lips.)
    We, as a people should be proud of our ethnicity and our MOST BEAUTIFUL FEATURES and shout, “I’m Black and I’m proud!”
    We are a beautiful people in all shades! :))

  2. @55th st silverbacks:
    I appreciate you sharing your story and it is my hope that more people read and grasp it.
    We are taught to love ourselves but then to behave differently at certain times just to please the masses. It makes sense that it would make anyone angry because it is not only confusing, but also contradictory.
    To answer your question: it just might very well be one of the problems.

  3. 55th st silverbacks on said:

    this is a case in my point concerning our assimulation of a culture that would rather we all just faded away. i was taught to try to blend in which is not a reasonable request for a six foot three dark skin man working in a mostly white enviroment. inorder to be seen as a man i am supposed to act like something i not only am not but am unable to connect with. as an adult the issue can be dealt with mentally but as a young man i was growing up angry. this is just one of many issues that cause inner stress and turmoil for an african american. COULD THIS BE A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR IN THE LASHING OUT OUR YOUTH DISPLAY?

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