The dark bleach, the fair tan. Everyone wants to look Brazilian.

The fact that the Indian version of Tom Cruise is pitching a skin-lightening cream, to help his darker brothers take on a Brahmin pallor, has been causing a stir in India.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s familiar with Indian, or just about any dark-skinned, culture, that a premium is paid for those who are fairer-skinned. I remember a Filipino friend told me that it’s common for people to ask “Is it light?” about a newborn baby, and in the Far East, women wear gloves and bonnets to protect their skin from the sun’s darkening power.

It’s no secret that among black women, too, lighter skin is a mark of beauty. Please let me know the next time a black male hip-hop artist or athlete settles down with a dark-skinned woman. I won’t hold my breath.

In contrast, among those with European ancestry, the trend tends towards the opposite. Whether it’s a tanning bed, a spray-on tan, or bronze-in-a-bottle, most Westerners want to take on a darker hue. In fact, I can only think of (white) emos and Goths as people who prefer to maintain a pale complexion.

Meanwhile, our friends in South America seem to be thrilled about their skin color. Well, at least those with predominantly-European heritage. Is it any mistake that the most popular supermodels of the past 10 years, with the exception of the odd German or Somali, is Brazilian?

Sure, gentlemen prefer blonds, and the pro-ana look apparently shows no signs of weakening, so there is still a sizeable Czech and Russian contingent as well.

But think about it: Gisele Bundchen and her sisters Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima and Izabel Goulart roll off my tongue and I am not all that familiar with the world of high fashion. All of them have nice warm, tan glows (and a couple look vaguely prepubescent). The list apparently is quite long.

So do Brazilians represent the zenith of beauty? Will we just end up bleaching or tanning ourselves to achieve that light-brown skin tone? Or do Brazilians’ middle-of-the-road color represent what humanity will look like with a few more centuries of intermixing?

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  1. Oh! Oh! I need to comment on this!!

    Ok… first, a comment on the black thing – I tried to think of a dark sister who is even famous, and I could only think of those Benetton models. Interesting to note how many dark, dark brothers are famous, though – I can’t think of any particularly sexy light skinned guys who are.

    But thats not what I want to talk about..

    I personally am very, very white, despite being 1/2 Persian. I could tan like a mother, mind, but I stay out of the sun. Mostly because I’m vain and don’t want to wrinkle. But also cos I like being pale, it makes me look good in black, which is all I wear.

    However – it’s interesting to note that while people do seem like love being tan.. and men do seem to like the golden skinned models.. when totally white men find out I’m half-Persian, they seem very relieved at how white I am, and want me to stay that way.

    Like it makes me ok to mate with… lol.


    They don’t realize Persians are the orginal Aryans, or that Iran means land of Aryans.. they just don’t want to feel like they’re dating a non-whitey.

    (The Sagittarius does not mind, btw, so don’t think i mean him! But in the deep south.. oh.. some do care!)

    Comment by isabella snow — September 28, 2007 @ 6:50 am

  2. You’re 100% right Isabella. There is still a premium placed on being light-skinned (unless you’re a black man, and you’re right, my black female friends always want dark men). People just want you to look like you’re wealthy enough to spend a weekend every month tanning on the beaches of St Tropez!

    Comment by JM — September 28, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

  3. Glad to see someone is staying on top of things.

    Comment by — October 3, 2007 @ 8:45 pm

  4. Hi! Anime Guy here! I came across your blog posting after searching for bleach and your post on The dark bleach, the fair tan. Everyone wants to look Brazilian. makes an interesting read. Thanks for sharing. I will research more next Sunday when I have the day off.

    Comment by Anime Girl — October 7, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

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