Well, according to Michael Jackson, in love it may not matter. But it does in the 21st Century media where we continually try and change people’s ideas, fashion, sexuality, and now, race to fit the “popular”.
Recently, magazines such as Vanity Fair, ELLE and InStyle have been accused of lightening the skin colour of their cover girls. In particular, was Gabourey Sidibe who looked drastically different on the cover of ELLE in January 2010.
Similarly, Kerry Washington was “lightened” on the cover of InStyle and so was 30 year-old powerhouse Keyan celebrity, Lupita Nyong’o on her Vanity Fair cover. Many of the excuses given was the lighting used to take the portraits – and could not be edited to suit reality – as well as the lighting angles used on the covers – for example, the lighting under Washington’s face casts a white glow on her cheekbones.
Even Beyoncé was not exempt from this as her album cover saw her wearing a blonde wig with severely lighter skin.
Co-producer and co-director of documentary, Dark Girls, Bill Duke summarises the notions that we as a society still hold,
“Colourism is unfortunately still an issue today. Dark skin is considered less than light skin in the minds of many in our community and in the media”
But why? Why do we still hold someone of a different race to be lesser than us when we all stand and applaud the atrocity of Kylie Jenner styling her hair in cornrows and Miley Cyrus chomping on grills?
As Johnson (2015) states, “marginalised groups don’t have the power to decide if they’d prefer to stick with their customs or try on the dominant culture’s traditions just for fun”. No, no they do not have that option and it is seriously distressing and face-palm worthy when white people think it is totally norm to wear traditional headdress of American Indians or to – falsely – represent an African-American woman by wearing brightly coloured headscarves and beads. Instead, we see them being manipulated and altered to fit a white society’s ideals of beauty – white.
Amandla Stenberg did an amazing video on black culture and what it means when white people ultimately make these things fashionable. But Amandla said something that is ever so poignant and will stay with me forever:
What would American (and the world) be if we loved black people as much as we love black culture?
Now how can a sixteen year old notice this and, we cannot. It’s time to change.