Is Shadeism Worse Than Racism? (via Pretty Brown Girl™)

You must watch this thought provoking video posted by blogger Pretty Brown Girl. It is shocking to me because it is so familiar. The little girl in the video could be a member of my own family. It's not just for black people! The documentary above tells the story of a young Indian woman who faces the issue of shadeism in her community. The fact of the matter is, shadeism is an epidemic that we must address. I don't really have much to say today, but let me close with this. Shadeism, is way worse than racism. Anytime members of the same community tear each other down based on the tone of skin color, we do more h … Read More

via Pretty Brown Girl™

Candadian, Nayani Thiyagarajah, who created the film with fellow Ryerson journalism students, Brian Han, Leanne McAdams, Derek Rider and Vanessa Rodrigues, says she hopes to expand Shadeism into a feature-length documentary in the upcoming year.

Asked whether her niece’s perceptions of beauty have changed since filming wrapped up in April, Thiyagarajah says the four-year-old hasn’t seen the footage yet.

“We’re watching it this weekend together,” says Thiyagarajah. “She asked me, ‘why are you asking me these questions?’ She’s starting to think about it.”

{Read the full article here}

This also struck a chord with me, because in Singapore even within the various races, there is preference for lighter skin and I think there is something terribly wrong with that. This belief is so entrenched that it messes with all of our minds. I think beauty is all about perception and right now our perceptions are warped and skewed by centuries of bigotry.

I also think that the media influences what we perceive as beautiful. Just think about the kinds of images projected in magazines and TV. Speaking of that why is there bigotry towards people with red hair and freckles. I wonder how that trend even started. Isn’t that pretty ridiculous. Now just look at Prince Harry or Julianne Moore and tell me in what way red heads are not gorgeous. It’s just as ridiculous as people having to use harmful bleaching agents on their skin and how the top selling product in India is a bleaching cream called ‘Fair and Lovely’.


And this next one will make your jaw drop. I think it’s supposed to be a spoof.


Children don’t have any concept of race until they are taught otherwise. That was my own experience and I only realized I was different when I went to school. Even then it took a few years before I had a real understanding of ethnicity. I just wondered why my hair didn’t go back in place when I shook my head the way most of the girls in class did. I also wondered how I could make my hair shiny, glossy and super straight. In a way, what the majority of little girls had was beautiful to me. I didn’t want to be the odd one out.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore & recently cancer too.
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6 Responses to Is Shadeism Worse Than Racism? (via Pretty Brown Girl™)

  1. LL says:

    The red hair and freckles (irish/ginger) negative stereotype originated in the UK/europe if you weren’t aware. This went on into the us where they were treated the same as black people (badly). The rest is history (I’ve forgotten).

    • bookjunkie says:

      I never knew that! Thanks for educating me about this. That’s really too bad as there are so many gorgeous red heads out there. Again it’s all about how our perceptions are being manipulated by years of stereotyping.

  2. jazziefizzle says:

    I find it a little funny that some asian cultures are so obsessed with lighter skin being seen as more beautiful and there are all kinds of lightening creams. My friend lived in Japan and couldn’t find a moisturiser that didn’t have lightener in it…

    In Australia, everyone is trying to be as brown and tanned as possible, there are tanning moisturisers, fake tans, spray tans, solariums and people lay out in the sun to try to get a ‘healthy glow’. Makeup normally uses a lot of bronzer too! Thankfully now people are realising that there is such a problem with skin cancer and are using fake tan a lot more than real sun.

    Such a funny difference in culture!

  3. floramoreno says:

    The idea that white skin is the ideal comes from cultures of indigenous (brown) people being colonized by Western (white) people. The colonized people internalize this belief that their appearance is not beautiful; colonizers used it as a method of keeping people down by making them feel inadequate. It’s a form of colonization that has been internalized by people of color all over the world. Although actual colonization hasn’t happened for hundreds of years (usually originating from Europe), it still exists everyday in the little things. Such as the whitening creams sold at the drug stores and commenting on how lucky a girl is because her skin is fair.

    This subject always hits close to home for me: my parents are from Mexico and my graduate work was on skin color and its role in education. The emphasis on light skin is a global issue though. It’s a complex one, too. How can we teach our kids to accept themselves when the media bombards us with images of this ideal (white) image of beauty?

    Also, in Western countries, the more tan a person is indicates their wealth usually. For example, a person must have time to go on vacation or lay out in the sun, which means they don’t have to work. In other countries such as India or Mexico, the lighter a person is also indicates wealth/status. Their fair skin means they don’t have to work out in the sun all day.

    Sorry for the long comment, I could talk about this subject all day!

    • bookjunkie says:

      Thank you for sharing your insights. It’s very interesting especially what you said about the colour of the skin being associated with wealth and status. Yes it’s so hard when all the images around us emphasize these perceptions.

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