I did a special for black history month about the whitening of black actresses and entertainers in the media in particular Beyonce. I remember I made a game about it. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this look at this article from the Huffington Post:
Is Beyoncé the New Michael Jackson?
In August 2008, recording artist and actress Beyoncé Knowles featured in a magazine ad for cosmetics giant L’Oréal Paris and their Feria hair colour range. The ad drew controversy when the company were accused of deliberately lightening her skin in the photograph. (A charge they vehemently denied). This led to rumours that Beyoncé herself was using skin bleach. There had also been a prior unsubstantiated claim that during her time in the R’n’B group Destiny’s Child, her father Mathew Knowles persuaded her to use skin treatments in order that she stand out as the lightest member of the band.
To many of you this is no big deal. So what ?What’s the point Well I can tell you any places where there was slavery,the lighter your complexion the better your treatment and rank socially.I have an uncle and aunt as light skinned as my grandmother. They were treated better in many cases than my pops who is my own complexion. But the issue here are the young black girls with self image issue who will try to bleach their skin:
Taking the Negative
It sounds silly but imagine a famous Caucasian entertainer lets say Adele. Let’d say year after year she gets a little darker and darker. At first she looks nice I suppose because she looks more tan, and according to the media tans are in except when you are born with one 🙂 .She is looking like she has been spending more time in the tropics maybe adopting and feeding coloured children, given them more to hope for other than their daily fun making sand-castles out of the rumble.
Since we are taking the negative we have to imagine that the trend for black women in Hollywood to get slimmer and slimmer till they resemble emaciated skeletons covered in electrical tape would be reversed as well. Adele would gain a few lbs a year, nothing that we would see at first. This would mean that instead of becoming a spokes person for Jenny Craig she would be the person promoting Popeye’s Chicken. By years 2-3 , which is about the time that Jennifer Hudson needed to make that dramatic weight loss, she would be noticeable more rotound. In about 5 years what would the lovely and sultry sounding Adele look like ?
She would look like Mammy from Gone with the Wind
It would be ridiculous, to see a white actress get progressively darker and darker and heavier and heavier. I’ve come to think that despite your race, height, size our self-image at this point is created for us all. All of us including myself fall into the trap subconsciously at least. We all have a script waiting for us to follow in our daily lives. Going against the script, being an individual is cause for concern and isolation. I think this has been the case more and more in the post industrial age. Just my two cents and more to talk about in another post.
Kenneth Bancroft Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark were African-American psychologists who as a married team conducted important research among children and were active in the Civil Rights Movement. They founded the Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem and the organization Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited .Kenneth Clark also was an educator and professor at City College of New York, and first Black president of the American Psychological Association. They were known for their 1940s experiments using dolls to study children’s attitudes about race.
The Doll Test
The Clarks’ doll experiments grew out of Mamie Clark’s master’s degree thesis. They published three major papers between 1939 and 1940 on children’s self perception related to race. Their studies found contrasts among African-American children attending segregated schools in Washington, DC versus those in integrated schools in New York. The doll experiment involved a child being presented with two dolls. Both of these dolls were completely identical except for the skin and hair color. One doll was white with yellow hair, while the other was brown with black hair. The child was then asked questions inquiring as to which one is the doll they would play with, which one is the nice doll, which one looks bad, which one has the nicer color, etc. The experiment showed a clear preference for the white doll among all children in the study. These findings exposed internalized racism in African-American children, self-hatred that was more acute among children attending segregated schools. In 2006 filmmaker Kiri Davis recreated the doll study and documented it in a film entitled A Girl Like Me. Despite the many changes in some parts of society, Davis found the same results as did the Drs. Clark in their study of the late 1930s and early 1940s. In the original experiment(s) the majority of the children choose the white dolls. When Davis repeated the experiment 15 out of 21 children also choose the white dolls over the black, giving similar reasons as the original subjects, associating white with being “pretty” or “good” and black with “ugly” or “bad”. The dolls used in the documentary were identical except for skin colour.