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Old 05-25-2006, 01:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Pretty In Pink... Er, I mean White.

I was reading this thread regarding Dove's "Real Women" campaign, and it jogged my memory of what I believe is a rather disturbing trend I have been noticing lately.

Now, to kick things off, I'm first going to get all my disclaimers out of the way - I'm not racist nor anything of the sort. I realize that this may turn into a controversial thread, as it does deal with race indirectly, but please keep it civil folks. I'm trying to look at the bigger picture from the societial point of view.

Also, I just threw these together in photoshop real quick. A picture here or there may be misleading because of the lighting/flash or whatever, but by and large I think that this holds true.

So, with no further ado....








And it doesn't just apply to women... (I'm gonna leave Michael Jackson out of this... for obvious reason )





Notice anything? As my ultra-subtle background conveys, often times "beautiful" black people are becoming whiter and whiter - especially when they are being photographed for a magazine, or in a movie, ect. Granted, there are exceptions, but this seems to be the general rule of thumb.

Don't get me wrong, I think all the chicks pictured are pretty smokin' hot, but it surprised me that the photos taken for a larger audience, they consistantly show up lighter in color.

Now I ponder, what does this mean? Could it be that although America "accepts" black people in the entertainment industry as a whole, they still must go through the utter ridiculousness of making themselves appear whiter? If that's the case, has America as a whole really accepted black people - or are we just a bunch of closet bigots?

I'd go on, but I want to see where the discussion leads before I pipe up again - I look forward to the responses...
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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After thinking about it for a minute, I think its probably that with lighter more subtle skin they appear 'softer' as opposed to a darker and harsher appearance. I don't think it makes me racist to say that I find it more attractive and appealing. The same goes for tanned white people as opposed to a very stark white appearance. Now of course this is a huge over-generalisation since there's always something to break the rule, but it's still a thought.

That being said, I think Halle Berry's top right picture is thoroughly unnatural looking.
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Agreed.

However, especially in Halle Barry's case, If I hadn't known of her and just saw any of the photos on the right, I'm not even certain I would know that she was black. I likely would have guessed Italion or something...
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm no American, but I see the same trends in my own country - and not only in celebrities. I'm talking ordinary people in the street.

Many black people over here still feel that looking 'lighter' is better. Better for getting a job, a boyfriend etc. I've seen ads on TV with a black model advertising a facial cream that will 'considerably brighten your skin'.

I don't see the point.
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You know, I could care less what shade Queen Latifah is, that woman really does it for me.

I live in a racially diverse community by any standard, and I see that same "lighter is better" sometimes in the small, rural town I live near. I never have really understood it.

And what is equally strange to me is that among the caucasions in the community, tanned browner is better. Go figure.
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I'm no American, but I see the same trends in my own country - and not only in celebrities. I'm talking ordinary people in the street.

Many black people over here still feel that looking 'lighter' is better. Better for getting a job, a boyfriend etc. I've seen ads on TV with a black model advertising a facial cream that will 'considerably brighten your skin'.

I don't see the point.
I was just at a resort in Jamaica, and the entertainment staff were playing some current and recent reggae and dancehall by the pool. One of the songs was "Don't Bleach", referring to ladies lightening their skin color, which appears on a quick Google to be by Jhiko Man.
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Old 05-25-2006, 02:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Halle is a mongrel, like me. Maybe that's why she looks more white... lol. Having a white mom does that.
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Old 05-25-2006, 02:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The races in the U.S. are mixing rapidly. Just when is a person considered white or black anymore. Eventually racial differences will fade. A friend I used to work with received a check from the government because his wife was 1/16 Native American in a settlement by one of the tribes. If she was any less she would not qualify.

I would not have noticed the color differences in your examples if you had not pointed it out. I guess someone who looks half black and half white may have a larger following for potential commercial success from audiences of all races.
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Old 05-25-2006, 02:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The races in the U.S. are mixing rapidly. Just when is a person considered white or black anymore. Eventually racial differences will fade. A friend I used to work with received a check from the government because his wife was 1/16 Native American in a settlement by one of the tribes. If she was any less she would not qualify.

I would not have noticed the color differences in your examples if you had not pointed it out. I guess someone who looks half black and half white may have a larger following for potential commercial success from audiences of all races.
While this may be true, I hadn't realized that consumer choices were based on the race of the person promoting them. Hell, I have Nike shoes, and Michael Jordon used to be their spokesperson...
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Old 05-25-2006, 03:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The only difference I see in all of the above posted photos is that the ones on the right seem to have been taken by a photographer of at least mediocre skill, while the pics on the left look like sloppy snapshots.

Contrast and lighting are important for good photos. Photographers know this. I see no rascist undertones whatsoever. I see nothing else here.
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Old 05-25-2006, 04:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I think it has a lot to do with the photographer. Now, I'm not arguing the sociology issue of ligther is better or whatever that nonsense is. I'm not educated on the topic so I'm not debating it, but I do recall a Black is Beautiful campaign...not sure what exactly caused that except that it was too embrace yourself and everyone is beautiful or something....

Anyway, darker skin is difficult to photograph. Especially, if the person is wearing white or light clothing or is against a pale background. The person will either be washed out or very dark depending on what is metered. This could be the case in these pictures.

In my class picture, all my students are dark skinned, so the photographer metered off of them...therefore I look like an albino. So you could easily add me up there in those pictures as a white person trying to look even whiter..lol

Also, most of the photos on the left are candid shots taken at events, while the photos on the right are mostly set or studio shots. Lighting can have major effects on how a person looks, even when it comes to muscle tone and blemishes. So, I'm not sure if there is a trend of celebrities wanting to look lighter or if it's just the way photos are processed. Of course, they would have final say of a photograph, so it's hard to tell.
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Old 05-25-2006, 04:30 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoSoup
While this may be true, I hadn't realized that consumer choices were based on the race of the person promoting them. Hell, I have Nike shoes, and Michael Jordon used to be their spokesperson...
Yep, Michael can sell about anything.
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Old 05-25-2006, 04:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 05-25-2006, 04:46 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I hear what you're saying. I work with a mom who is really affected by her son's hyperpigmentation. She watches every day to see if he's getting any lighter. She keeps saying (quote from her), "He looks like one of those African babies, like a little monkey. I'm not that dark, he must have gotten it from his daddy, his daddy's much darker. He didn't get that from me!" It's strange, she's almost defensive. He's an adorable FLK. The darkness in his skin comes from a mitochondrial disorder. With all of this kid's issues, it's weird that she focuses on that. In my area, darker skin is somehow connected with lower income according to the perceptions that people have expressed to me in the last few years. I don't understand it. I'm pale as a ghost, my legs literally reflect the sunlight... did I miss the part where I'm supposed to be upper class or more desireable?

By the way... the picture in the lower right of the Queen Latifah layout, the one with the darkest skin? That's Serena Williams.
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Old 05-25-2006, 05:04 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I think it has a lot to do with the photographer
Agreed. Many of these pictures seem over-exposed. Now, is that intentional or not? I don't know.
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Old 05-25-2006, 05:04 PM   #16 (permalink)
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It must be a skin condition, brought on by the length of time they are in front of a camera.

OMG! they're Flash Fading
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Old 05-25-2006, 06:07 PM   #17 (permalink)
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By the way... the picture in the lower LEFT of the Queen Latifah layout, the one with the darkest skin? That's Serena Williams.
HAHAHAHAHAHA!
That is the funniest thing I've seen all night. Shit. I didn't even notice. Talk about unintentionally racist people... wow.

Don't worry, NoSoup - she's covering her face and they are of a size. But still. It's hilarious.

Be that as it may - I do believe that they are whiter in the more professional photography... because it's professional. They have a particular look on purpose. I think it just sells better, as screwed up as that sounds.
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Old 05-25-2006, 06:58 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Old 05-25-2006, 07:40 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Well, I agree that lighting may be an issue in some of them, but certainly not all.

Even if that was the case, the photographers are either purposefully lighting or utilizing makeup to make black people appear lighter.

Also, I agree - the photos on the left are pretty much all snapshots of them when they are not being photographed by a professional - I would imagine those photos more closely resemble how they really look vs the look that they have on professional cameras.

My point, though - is quite a few - if not the majority - of every professional photo taken and published of black people show them much lighter than they actually are.

I guess I just don't understand what the deal is...
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Old 05-25-2006, 07:42 PM   #20 (permalink)
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mr_alleycat has a point - take a look at Michael Jordon - he appears to be quite dark. In fact, off the top of my head, most black professional athletes appear pretty dark in their photos, whether they were professionally taken or not.

So I'm assuming it just has something to do with the entertainment industry...

**Oh, sorry about the false photo of Queen Latifah, It was titled under her name originally, and you can't really see her face... and I don't really follow tennis **
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Old 05-25-2006, 07:47 PM   #21 (permalink)
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No Soup: There is merit to your comment. There is most certainly an association with dark/light, black/white valuation ascribed to so-called racial properties (in your example it isn't the only condition). There was a test done with kids: they were shown dolls of diiferent races and asked to pick out the pretty ones. Every single time the kids chose the white dolls over the black, brown, Asian ones.

At this point in time, there is a perception that white (from a racial perspective) is better or sets the standard.

Personally, I think we are headed in a direction of "mixed" ethnicity or so-called race as being the new standard. Which I think is cool. We as a society are way too race or ethnicity obsessed as it is. I personaly feel so-called race and the ethnic myth has zero bearing or qualitative measure on people. But for now, we have some hurdels to get over but that's all part of the process.
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Old 05-25-2006, 09:15 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I think these cases are simply lighting or purposely altered for non-racist reasons. The Will Smith one (Right side, white tanktop) was for Bad Boys II, it was for a scene where they're about to go into action to save the chick. One can easily see how they want it to be bright as the good guy (remember the cowboy with the white hats?) goes into action for the just cause. It has nothing to do with racism but connotations to our societal view of the side which is good wears white. Naturally brightness will shine around the hero, not a dark cloud.

People in pictures also always look better with the right lighting. Since lighting is hard to control on outdoor events (the red carpet shots you show), turning up the lights is the only way to go about it. Add in 100 cameras going off flooding the carpet with light you can easily see how the people will appear lighter skinned.

I'm not denying the connotation of dark skinned people wishing they were lighter colored. However that is generally inside the darker race. Just look up any modeling agency, there are PLENTY of dark skinned models out there. Hell check out that reality tv show about models, there are plenty of very dark girls.
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Old 05-26-2006, 12:29 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Yeah, I agree with Seaver somewhat. I don't think it's really anything purposeful most of the time, and I especially don't believe that its some sort of subversive, racially charged conspiracy.

I mean don't get me wrong; I realize that no one here is taking it all that seriously, I'm just saying.

However, I'm not naive enough to assume that racism is not still very very much so an issue in our society.
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Old 05-26-2006, 05:20 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I think it's the lighting. Like another poster said, is it intentional or not, well that's anybody's guess. It could just be down to the artist/photographer who works on the photo to his own liking -their preference could be racially biased, but then that's just reaching.
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Old 05-26-2006, 06:09 AM   #25 (permalink)
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And what is equally strange to me is that among the caucasions in the community, tanned browner is better. Go figure.
Hmmmm...interesting observation. So then, somewhere in the middle...
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Old 05-26-2006, 09:46 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Moreso, I'd say, the desire to be something different.
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Old 05-26-2006, 10:38 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Black people are just harder to photograph because of the way light plays on their skin, so its natural to see a lot of range in their photos. Versus white people, who seem to be either normal or ghostlike.

That being said, I do think their is a bias towards photographing black people paler than they really are. The same way that white people try to get tan to be more attractive, blacks may try to look paler and less dark.

It's that whole, 'grass is always greener...' or 'you always want that which is unattainable'.

you might even be able to do the same comparison tests with photos of white actresses to catch them looking more tan.
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Old 05-26-2006, 07:03 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I see it every day; black people want to be lighter, people still talk (usually jokingly) of passing the paper bag test and how light their skin is. We may have made some big inroads, but oru culture sitll ahs a deeply ingrained awareness of race, and like the song says, we're all a little bit racist.
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In my class picture, all my students are dark skinned, so the photographer metered off of them...therefore I look like an albino. So you could easily add me up there in those pictures as a white person trying to look even whiter..lol
Should've taken a few shots to achieve a better dynamic range. It's easy for anyone with a film camera or good digital to balance it out.
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