Is Shadeism Worse Than Racism?

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 harm than someone outside of the community…

What do you think?


11 thoughts on “Is Shadeism Worse Than Racism?”

  1. That was deep. I’m really in the last couple of years just learning about all of this. I actually just learned about the Indians using the skin lightning cream a couple of weeks ago when I walked into this nail shop. It was surprising.

  2. I wish more and more Indonesian women were aware of shadeism (I’ve only learned about it just now from this blog post). Every other ad on TV in Indonesia is for a lightening cream. Makes me want to scream.

    1. My mom is from Malaysia and when I’ve gone with her to the country in the past I was always confused by those ads. It shocked me how prevalent this line of thought is in that area and how even my mom participates in it. She’d always hate if my sister and I came back with tans (we’re half-white) and growing up, I never really understood the issue.

      I’ve seen Shadeism exist in the community of Indian and Pakistani girls I grew up with in high school as well. It baffles me that people can criticize each other on matters such as skin tone, especially when they’re of the same ethnicity. Why does it even matter?

      1. I don’t know the case in Malaysia. But in Indonesia, what’s even sadder than skin lightening ads is comedy shows.

        Indonesian comedy shows like to poke fun at people with darker complexions (I’m serious) because they think it’s “ugly” to be dark. It’s not even about political-correctness. I think it’s just mean. Not to mention stupid and shallow. Which is why I don’t watch Indonesian comedy shows. They’re not funny.

  3. This struck a chord with me and I need to reblog this….brilliant documentary and commentary. Yes I agree that it is indeed worse than racism but it is just so prevalent that it’s sad. I guess awareness is the key.

  4. Response to Vimeo[dot]com video: SHADEISM.

    I’m annoyed at some of the inaccuracies in this documentary. [@4:25] Judging by their accent, most of the young women in the video are obviously from North America, so they do not represent those countries mentioned. Even if they were from those countries, they still can’t represent whole entire nations full of individuals (only speak for yourself!). There’s a difference between race, nationality and ethnicity.

    [@4:12] It’s completely untrue what she said about South Asian media. Irrfan Khan, Ajay Devgan, Nandita Das, Konkona Sen  Sharma and countless Kollywood and Tollywood actors have dark skin (by Indian definition). There was also a TV drama serial, Star Plus’ ‘Bidaai’, originally about this issue. What people define as light and dark skin varies. For example, I think Shahrukh Khan and Beyonce Knowles have quite dark skin, whereas some would disagree with me.

    [@5:07] I’m not too sure about the term “women of colour”. Isn’t white a colour too?

    [@5:14] Unfortunately, there have been many researches which proved that beauty does make a difference to one’s persona and future. Beauty can determine one’s employment prospects …and of course, people in this world (including employers) generally believe that lighter skin is more beautiful (as this documentary states). 

    Another inaccuracy in the video is that not all skin lighteners have bleach in them [@6:02]. In the UK, this type of product is called “skin lighteners”, which is more accurate due to varying ingredients in each product. In North America, they’re called “bleaching creams”, and in Asia they’re called “fairness cream”. I think if people take proper precautions, then it’s okay to lighten one’s skin …if it’s acceptable to darken skin issue-wise, then why isn’t it acceptable to lighten skin?? Why do some people say the latter is racist and the former is not??

    [@6:20] Not everyone identifies with their appearance or even race. Maybe some feel different inside to how they look outside.

    [@6:28] Oprah Winfrey’s skin is lighter than ever and she relaxes her hair, which is very self-contradicting.

    [@7:14] Her sister is obviously not “whiter” – she isn’t white at all.  Whatever this shade is called – olive, beige, wheatish… it is light brown, NOT white. Not everyone who lighten their skin want white skin. I had the same problem with the BBC documentary ‘Make Me White’ (2009).

    [@10:00] Historically, Europeans also equated beauty with light skin. The Tudors would wear lead makeup on their face and the prophets, saints and angels within Abrahamic religions were and still is depicted as white (which is geographically inaccurate in most cases). 

    [@10:49] Regarding those music videos; I can see plenty of dark-skinned women in the videos. There are also white women who look darker (via tanning).
    [@11:30] “Disgusting”??? It was incredibly rude and ridiculous how they reacted to the cover picture of Vivica Fox. Vivica Fox looked good in that picture and not at all abnormal –  she doesn’t look that much lighter enough than usual to justify their reaction. [@11:55] Vivica Fox is an individual who represents herself, not anyone else. Anyway, she’s lighter than most people of African/Caribbean descent (perhaps she has some distant Asian/White heritage?). Just to add, the camera’s flash and the studio lighting may have caused her complexion to look lighter. [@11:36] Calling her hair “perfect” reinforces the viewpoint that straight hair is better than Afro-Caribbean hair – something majority of people consider to be a racial trait.

    [@13:05] This clearly shows that prejudice against skin tone works both ways.

    [@13:59] Excluding light skin people from their group, Lost Lyrics, doesn’t help to change people’s opinions about skin tone. Light skin people also have opinions about this topic and there are prejudices against light skin too.  

    [@14:40] I thought she was a dark skin black woman – this shows that what is defined as dark and light is down to the individual’s perception. I know quite a few dark skin black women who manage to move through this world as normal, without their skin tone playing a part of it.

    Overall, this documentary does not shed any new light on societies’ attitude towards dark skin. I feel that the issue was taken out of proportion – skin tone very rarely prevent a person function normally in life and rarely create disastrous consequences nowadays. Also, this issue affects men too – I would’ve liked to hear a male’s point of view.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think Asians who lightened their skin usually look better than before. I wouldn’t want to look any darker – I don’t look pretty with a natural tan. That’s my opinion. I expect others to respect or at least accept my view as I would for their views – it’s not harming anyone else. I welcome those who try to promote natural beauty. However, if a person lighten or darken their skin or straighten their hair, then that’s their choice – it’s their own body and only they have the full right to do what they want to it …and it shouldn’t affect anyone else.  

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