How many eras should we let pass to normalise dark skin and embrace dark magical queens of beauty? Who says that these dark angels can never bring change? There’s always been this prejudice that fair is the complexion of beauty in human beings while the dark complexion is the ugliest. These prejudices have been deeply rooted in our history but what's stopping us to break them today?
In the world of fashion, it was always the pale complexion that reigned but it has been changing. Donyale Luna, largely forgotten by today’s generation, was the world’s first black cover girl and has been described as "the first black supermodel who really began to change things...to enable a more diverse beauty paradigm." The then 18-year old was introduced to Nancy White, who was impressed by her beauty and featured her in the January 1965 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Donyale Luna’s letter to her childhood friend Mary Ann proved that she was not only confident about her skin colour but also her body structure. Just like Donyale Luna, there are many brave models Naomi Campbell, Naomi Ruth Sims, Nidhi Sunil, Zozibini Tunzi, Masaba Gupta, Anukreethy Vas, and many more dark angels who have been breaking these paradigms and walking with pride like real queens.
Naomi Campbell at the 2019 Met Gala. Elaine Wells/STAR MAX/ IPx
Is it necessary for these ‘dark angels’ to lighten their skin tone? Indians are the largest users of lightening beauty products. “Don’t soak in the sun, your skin may turn darker”, “ use malai (cream) and gram flour as a face mask, it lightens your skin” - these statements are commonly heard in India, especially by young women. Societal expectations instil in young women the fear of rejection in marriage as Indian men seek fair-skinned women because white is perceived as beautiful. This kind of prejudice still exists. Young kids are bullied due to their skin colour in their schools.
Whitening routines are still followed by a significant portion of Asians. Treatments are offered through creams, pills, injections, and laser. These whitening treatments are very expensive, so many people resort to using illegal products containing toxic chemicals.
If you have been following fashion for recent years, you’ve noticed that fashion brands are making concerted efforts to represent black people. Since the murder of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the inequitable treatment of Black Americans across all industries have been highlighted. This led fashion industry to further its commitment to the genuine representation of dark-skinned people. Cosmetic firms have also developed products that are suitable for all shades of dusky, brown, chocolate, and coffee-shaded women. Representing black models has brought hope to many women of colour.
This has taught them how to accept one’s own skin, colour, and body. These brands' efforts to make more women feel the need to embrace their natural beauty are appreciable.