Black British youth and their focus on skin

Recently a video has been swirling around the internet, questioning whether Black British youth have an obsession with lighter skin and curly hair. It is a vox pop style compilation of videos of young people describing the type of guy or girl that they’re into. Practically all participants said the same thing: “light skin”, some even went as far as to say no “dark skins” as their preferences. 

Here’s a link to the video

The obvious response to this video is that this fetishisation of lighter skin is disgusting and unnatural, and it really makes you think why? What is this obsession? Why are lighter skin people put on a pedestal? Some people may take offence to these questions, it’s not to say that people of lighter skin shouldn’t be praised, but it’s more why are they praised more than others, we’re all people at the end of the day. Take away our skin and our flesh and we’re all just hollow bones, so what really is it? As a young black man who has grown up in black British culture, I feel like I have a couple answers to these questions.

At a young age, we’re all pretty much doing the same thing: going to school, maybe going out with friends and then probably coming straight home. We spend most of our time looking towards our role models, whom at that age are most likely musicians and actors who look like us. The Kanye West’s’, the Jamie St Patrick’s, the Drakes, you kind of get the idea right? Being young and not really able to do much, we aspire to be able to live like them; to emulate their lives in anyway we can. Hip Hop is arguably the biggest genre of music currently, dominating the radio waves, meaning that this is most of what the youth listen to and the artists that they look up to. In most Hip Hop music videos today, be it American or British, the only women usually represented are mainly light skin, Latina or white with curvaceous figures. Not to say that this is every video but it’s definitely the majority. At that young age we take in everything we see, and since those are the only women we see in the lives and videos of these role models, we associate those type of women with success and luxury; and I’m guessing we then place them on that pedestal. If we want to see a change in the mindset of the youth, I think we first have to see a change in the mindset of these same role models.

Also being that young, you want to fit into the crowd. You copy their clothes, the type of music everyone listens to and the type of girls or guys everyone likes. I feel like some of those young people have conditioned themselves to think lighter skin is better because that’s what everyone else is saying so they’ve just drilled it so far into their own heads that they just agree also. I feel that as you age, and get out into the world more and start thinking for yourself, and growing as a person you kind of realise that that whole light skin vs dark skin debate is just irrelevant, small minded and any grown person still having it needs to take a look at themselves more, rather than whose skin type is more attractive.

Even though I’ve blamed a lot of this problem on age, it’s still unacceptable that the young people still have this mindset. I imagine being darker skinned growing up especially as a little girl must be very hard and ideas like this cause many insecurities, which is heartbreaking. For the youth to change I think we have to take a hard look at the people they look up to and make them aware of the power of what they choose to show the younger generations has.


Image from: Black Awareness Foundation