Mixing It Up

Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

How are we being represented?

The film we watched in class mentioned how some Trinidadians felt as if they were not represented in the particular shows women from the country participated in. The women chosen were always light-skinned, even though majority of the people living in the country had a much darker skin tone. Seeing the clip reminded me of other similar scenarios. For example, the thought some young colored-skin girls have when they’re looking to owning a Barbie. They won’t find a Barbie that resembles them. Lately, the company has been trying to diversify the looks of the Barbie, however to do so, it should take into consideration the particular characteristics that are often disregarded. Similarly, soap operas are very popular in the Mexican culture. For years, Mexican soap operas have been in the making. However, ever since, the protagonists have always been light-skinned. If you trace back on how many have aired, and out of those how many have casted dark-skinned people, especially women, as protagonists you’ll probably find two or three. Growing up I always wondered why that was, especially looking at my family and the people in my community and seeing mostly brown skin. Society all over the world has constructed the idea of light-skinned people being ideally beautiful. It is crazy to think that this occurs in countries where the majority of the people have colored skin.

12 Comments

  1. This relates to the idea of European standards of beauty, it definitely is interesting and problematic how darker skin is seen as less attractive.

  2. This distinction of the colorism in soap opera to the readings of the Carnival Queen is so important. I think people fail to recognize that we as scholars should not criticize but internalize how in one’s own society similar misrepresentation occurs.

  3. We consume the media more than we interact with people around and we don’t often think about how we or other group of people are being represented until some brings it up. Growing up in Ghana, most Spanish speaking movies that I was being exposed to were made up predominantly light-skinned looking actors/actresses. For a long time, I thought perhaps that was how the demographics were until I emigrated and so that there was more varieties of people who speak Spanish including Afro-Latinos. Even in Ghana though, most of the popular Ghanaian movies that I watched were made up light-skinned individuals who were mixed or lived most of their lives abroad. And also there was a neglect from speaking the common language, which is Fante. All the actors and actresses were speaking English unless there is an incident where they absolutely had to switch language to the local language.

  4. I think your blog post was written very well and your points were very interesting. I agree in that it is important to look at how groups are being represented. In society, especially the one that exists in America, it is clear that the idea of light-skinned people as beautiful has been constructed. Companies such as Barbie, trying to deconstruct this idea by making Barbies that resemble different people and races is an idea that aims at addressing this issue. However, when someone thinks of a Barbie, they think of the white, blonde, thin, long-legged original Barbie, which resembles the company. These constructs exist not only in society, but also in companies and organizations and things in general that make up society, and this makes these constructions more difficult to deconstruct. But, I think that there need to be more efforts made in the deconstruction process, and it needs to be an effort done by the whole of society, not just companies.

  5. I agree that this is a problem in the media. Protagonists of movies and soap operas are often not representative of the population they are supposed to be a part of, and this can cause image problems, especially in young children. Also the body shape and color of most Barbie dolls is unrepresentative of the consumers of the toys. These factors often mark the beginning of a much larger societal problem.

  6. This reminds me of a Facebook post I saw that was supposed to be representing different countries. I remember that the Brazilian girl had extremely light skin. There was then a post responding to the previous post that showed the “true” colors of the country.

  7. Watching Spanish television for literally all my life, I have noticed that lighter skin is screened more than brown skin whether it is through news anchors on CNN or television advertisements; white skin is everywhere and not only in soap operas. In Latin American particularly culture, not including Spain, there seems to be a sort of infatuation with lighter skin and refined features even if the majority of communities in Latin American are brown or showing mixed origins for many reasons, but one being that lightness exemplifies beauty and closeness to the European ancestors.

  8. I also grew up watching a lot of Latin tv shows from Brazilian soap operas to Mexican telenovelas, and as I look back there was only one tv show that featured and dark skin woman as the lead character. I find it astounding how these cases of misrepresentation are similar in most parts of the world. And these false narratives that are created are a disservice to the actual natives of said countries. I honestly had no idea how many black people were in Brazil before taking an African studies class and learning about the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

  9. Beauty has been made to be such a defining aspect of our society. The more beautiful you are thought to be by the world, the more successively you are to able perform the simplified woman role. What happens when the concept of femininity is dictated by a racial standard? But what happens when the only way to be beautiful is to be skinny and fair-skinned with long blond hair and blue eyes? Firstly, it separates all women into a hierarchy of race. That is why White Feminism is being called out in the liberal discourse for women’s right. White Feminism fights for equal participation in the white patriarchal system, rather than fighting to dismantle it. White Feminism wants to equally exercise their white privilege. Moreso, it incites a generational instinct for black and brown women to displace their self-pride or love. I’ve experienced this a lot in my life in being told to get rid of my curls or to stay out of the sun so I don’t get any darker. What does this do to a growing girl?

  10. I love how you mentioned the disparity between whats “popular” in media and toys, and what the consumers who buy/are entertained by look like. I was immediately reminded of my obsession with American Girl dolls. My best friend when I was growing up was African American, and we went to the American Girl store in NYC. I was able to find many dolls who looked just like me, but there was only one or two dolls that were of a darker skin tone. I remember the sadness that surrounded me as I saw how ashamed she was to be not white. I was also reminded of the media sensation, Nkechi Amare Diallo, formerly known as Rachel Dolezal. Diallo gained media attention after drastically changing her appearance by darkening her skin and changing her name. Some thought it was appropriation, some applauded her. I wonder, where should the line be drawn when it comes to fitting into society? Is the skin you were born in the skin one has to live their life in? Is it a choice? There are many questions.

  11. This reminds me of the doll test that was mentioned in class, where yound children are given the opportunity to choose which doll is the “good doll” and which doll ids the “bad doll” as well as which doll they’d rather play with, and nearly all the children (if not all of them) chose the light-skinned doll for both.

  12. Society’s standards of beauty still struggles to only acknowledge European beauty. Similarly, growing up, my parents wouldn’t allow me to grow obsessed with barbie dolls that didn’t resemble me, for they didn’t want me to only internalized the fair-skinned, straight, blonde haired dolls as the only example of what was beautiful.

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