By Jenny Tang, V Form
A $10 Billion Industry
In many communities of color in Asia, West Africa, and Latin America, fair skin is glorified, and skin-bleaching is as normal as applying lotion.
There is a multitude of causes. In some communities, colorism stems from classism: being tan means you work in the fields and are poor. According, having light skin indicates a wealthy indoor lifestyle and is desirable. In other communities, colorism has deep colonial roots: fair skin of European rulers symbolizes power and calls for worship. Whatever the cause, prejudice against dark skin harms many individuals, both on a personal level by causing shame and on a social level by increasing discrimination. Sadly, despite substantial evidence attesting to the health risks of skin-bleaching, an entire industry of skin-lightening products worth $10 billion continues to thrive today.
The three women in the artwork are Yanusha Yogarajah, Nyakim Gatwech, and Jella, who are all beauty influencers celebrating dark skin. Drawn as standing in solidarity, their confrontational gazes ask us, “What will you do about colorism?”
Jenny Tang is a V Form boarding student from Sunnyvale, CA. She loves art and science.