Many thanks to my dear friend Margaret for sharing this article with me. (The image is from the article.) Sadly, skin bleaching/skin lightening/skin whitening is something that is common all over the world (yes, even Asia). Photographer Anne Ackermann has a series that looks at women and skin bleaching in Uganda. The article points out that there is an idealized type of dark skin – one that is caramel colored. It is this idealized shade that these women aspire to have when they get bleaching treatments. This logic is a new twist on an old idea: that lighter is better. The words are just different now. Instead of expressing desired whiteness, many people (mostly women) express a desired lightness. In my research, I illustrate that many point to this distinction to avoid accusations of racism and self-hatred. Though the words are different, at the heart of it all, it means the same thing. Wanting to be a lighter shade of you is the new (yet still old) colorism.
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.