Colorism in Media
How Far We've Come and How Far We Need to Go
By: Autumn Lewis
Colorism, also known as skin color stratification, is discrimination based on the shade of one’s skin tone. It usually happens within the same ethnic or racial group, specifically minorities. Colorism usually favors those of lighter shades, giving them access to more resources, job opportunities and all-around better treatment than their darker skinned counterparts. It is a socially constructed hierarchy of sorts that exists due to the perpetuation of Eurocentric beauty standards within all forms of media.
Company promotion via the main stream media used to completely lack representation of people with darker skin when it came to marketing products and services. One would see this lack of representation mainly with beauty companies not featuring diverse skin tones in their commercials or including diverse shades in their products.
But in the past few years, there has been a large shift when it comes to the inclusivity of different shades of skin color. One of the most prominent examples of this shift was when singer/actress Rihanna released her make up line Fenty Beauty. It had an array of foundations that included over 40 different shades. The brand itself is known for embracing the nature of all skin tones and gender.
Not only did Fenty Beauty draw international acclaim for its diversity, it inspired other brands to start marketing with a broader range of shades of people. Even movies started to include more darker skinned people in lead roles.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the movie Black Panther, directed by Ryan Coogler, grossed $1.29 billion to date and currently ranks as the top-grossing movie title of all time. The notable part of this success when it came to marketing and colorism, is the numerous darker skinned actors that had lead roles in the movie. The world of media and equal representation has come pretty far when it comes to inclusion of darker shades of people.
However there is still more work to be done. Brands, entertainment and influencers must opt for all skin shades when it comes to representing brands and products in the media. Lead roles for movies must be equally distributed among all shades of people. Product and service marketing must always feature darker skinned individuals as well as lighter skinned individuals when they are able. Colorism is a social construct and it can be obliterated by the main medium that continues to perpetuate it; the media.
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