Freida Pinto: “Indians are so fascinated by white skin”


These are some new photos of Freida Pinto in New York City yesterday, where she’s been making the promotional rounds for The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. James Franco has been around too, but I feel like Freida has been more visible, perhaps because James is too busy being an ARTIST to promote the film, or perhaps because Freida seems happy to promote her work, unlike James. I absolutely hate that terrible pea sh-t dress, but I love the vivid purple-aubergine dress.

In a recent interview with The Independent, Frieda talked about something that is rather taboo for Indian actresses to discuss – the obsession, amongst Indian women, for lighter skin. The entire Independent interview is interesting – go here to read it – but I was fascinated by Freida’s thoughts:

At college in her mid-teens, Pinto had realised that theatre and literature were her “calling”. To earn some money, she began modelling. The well-mannered, inquisitive youngster found it easy working with photographers, but it was far from satisfying. Nor was the advertising work which followed.

“There were some very silly, stupid auditions that I had to go for. Like, there’s this girl who walks into college and nobody’s paying any attention to her because she is not using this particular cream – some kind of moisturiser or fairness cream, which I’m completely against. Then she’d put on the cream and all the boys would turn to her. And, I was like, ‘Arrgh, this is so bloody cheesy!’ If I ever got shortlisted for any of those parts I’d feel this sudden burden: ‘Oh my God, if I do this, they’ll pay me and I’ll earn my pocket money – but then it’s gonna be history.’ Some of my ads are now on YouTube and it’s just so embarrassing.”

Embarrassing, yes, but she can laugh about them. “There is a silly Wrigley chewing-gum ad you should check out. It’s so stupid. This guy pops a gum in his mouth and I fall from a tree on to his bike! Then he’s got a girl!” Pinto cracks up with laughter at the memory. “So from doing cheesy stuff like that to doing something as fulfilling as Miral – I think I’ve come a long way.”

She has, but Pinto can’t, and won’t, forget where she has come from. She despairs at the popularity of those “fairness creams” in Southeast Asia – bleaching potions to lighten the skin. “It’s completely wrong medically – and culturally, of course, because it’s giving people the wrong idea. My friend who’s a doctor told me that she’d have parents come in with kids who were three years old, saying, ‘Do something – I want my baby to be fair.’ It’s just this thing that people [in India] are so fascinated by white skin. There’s a lot of people there who are naturally really pale. But the whole idea that you have to be fair – without naming actors, but there are actors who admit it – the fairer you are, the easier it is.”

Even within Bollywood? “Oh yeah, absolutely. The amount of pancake cream on your face is ridiculous. I don’t think it is required, by the way. If a cream can give you confidence then you really have to check your whole confidence department in the first place.”

But Pinto herself is a bright beacon for Indian actors. Slumdog Millionaire showed that European and American audiences could be receptive to non-Western stories. And with her nonstop career since, this proudly Indian actress has succeeded in Hollywood without having to compromise by changing her looks or the way she speaks.

“Yeah,” she nods, “but it’s so funny. I feel like this whole idea of wanting something that you don’t really have is also very American in a way. They love tanning! Why the hell are you tanning that much? Then in my country people want a fairer skin tone! It’s just crazy. So when I was that Indian export that went to America and people were wanting that natural tan – which I don’t really have to go through tanning [to acquire] – they were excited to include something in their culture, into their film industry, that was not really there already. Or not properly or appropriately represented. So I just feel that this was a change.

“And I embrace the change and am hopeful it brings in more actors from Southeast Asia, without [them] having to do stereotypical roles. To be able to do something like Rise of the Planet of the Apes that is not concentrating on ethnicity – I’m so glad that is changing in the West.”

[From The Independent]

I remember the first time one of my Indian aunts told me that I had the “right” kind of complexion, because I’m mixed, my skin is much lighter than that of my Indian father’s. My Indian relatives always remark on it now – I have lightest-skin of anyone in my family. It’s a weird thing to remark on, but Frieda is right, there is a lot of emphasis on lighter skin amongst Indians. Personally, I prefer when I’m darker, and I’m totally not above going to a tanning bed to get some color. I can feel my aunts gasping from here.



Photos courtesy of Fame & WENN.

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95 Responses to “Freida Pinto: “Indians are so fascinated by white skin””

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  1. Riana says:

    I love the honesty.

    No offense to anyone but sometimes in interviews with white actresses there is such a lack of depth because all they talk about are their fat hips and their acting careers.

    It’s fascinating to hear about cultural issues discussed frankly.

  2. bitchbelying says:

    Kaiser you’re Indian? Wow. Had no idea. I think skin bleaching is in every culture. I know in Africa, women bleach because, white or light is right. Its unfortunate but that’s how some view lite skin. The lighter you are, the more wealthy\pretty you appear. I love Frieda, I wonder if she’s still datin Dev.

  3. WOM says:

    This totally jives with the marriage ads I’ve seen in the Times of India. Skin colour is often described as caramel or wheatish.

  4. Atticus says:

    I work at an American based company that has an office near New Delhi. A co-worker of mine went to the India office and said she was shocked, as she walked through the market place, by how many people asked her to stop to take their picture with her. She doesn’t look like someone famous, it was having a picture taken with a white person – that was her conclusion, anyway, and reading this backs up that theory.

    Frieda is right – it’s an odd thing how cultures who are naturally fair tan to get a darker skin tone, yet those who are naturally dark yearn to be more fair. I had no idea there were creams and products like that in SE Asia – my naivete shows again.

  5. aenflex says:

    I love the darnkness of Indian skin. I lay on the beach to get that dark.

  6. Nicole says:

    I lived in Asia for five years and I was shocked at all the whitening products and the lengths women would go to in order to avoid even the slightest tan. When I was in India, it was like every other commercial was for a whitening product. Then again, I’m half Mexican, half Norwegian and my Norwegian grandmother is obsessed with making sure I never tan too much.

  7. Relli says:

    kasier its the same in the Latino culture and i find it totally bizarre and ridiculous. I get a lot of compliments on how light my son is and i immediately put those people in the category of those i prefer not associate with. idiots. I am glad she is being so open about how dumb the practice is of wanting to be lighter and the comparison of Americans wanting to be tan.

  8. Rita says:

    This business of light skin being “desirable” seems to be more than the influence of the white race as societies evolved. It seems more than just poor colored people subliminally influenced by the image of rich English women, as if the wealth and place in society is a direct result of skin color. It all seems more primal or rooted in a genetic perspective.

    Please, please, please everyone of every race let us become enlightened. All skin tones are beautiful and all skin tones have imperfections. As a white person, I can say I am envious of a beautiful white smile radiating from dark skin.

  9. rose80 says:

    Sadly, the same thing goes on in the black community. Fair skin is praised while darker skin is shunned like it’s something ugly. There are hundreds of bleaching creams out there that are geared toward black people.

  10. Bopa says:

    Seems to be a universal problem for many darker skinned cultures. I’m primarily African American and it’s an issue for us as well. My immediate family is of varied tones so my mom was very diligent in teaching us that all tones are beautiful and skin color was of no importance.

    I am lighter skinned so I’ve gotten comments from Indian friends and even noticed their bias against my darker skinned African American
    friends. Really sad that we can’t get past such superficial issues.

  11. Jackson says:

    Everybody wants what they don’t have!

  12. esblondie says:

    And I’m fascinated by her. Where the hell did she get that dress in the first pic? She is gorgeous…

    And white skin isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be! Especially if you have olive undertones like I do… I look ok in the summer, but in the winter I just look ill.

    But anyway. All of you – embrace what you have!

  13. Danziger says:

    Rita, actually, it’s not so. This reverence of lighter skin has been present in cultures since ancient times when white Europeans were still living in huts while civilizations to the south and East flourished. If you were a lighter skinned female back then, you’d be considered more desirable than your darker peers, since fair skin in woman made them look more, oh, ‘pure’. Apparently all that hasn’t changed in the span of 8000 and more years.

    And you know what, guys? No matter how much we would try to preach that “all skin colors are beautiful”, people will still have their preferences and bias as long as humans have a sex drive. To treat someone as inferior because of their skin color is horrible, but to simply not like one skin color as much as the other is all right. Because how is not liking, say, pale white any worse than not liking Kellan Lutz’s serial killer eyes? Both born traits.

    Goddamn. Kellan Lutz has gotten to my head.

    • Marilyn says:

      what evidence is your research based on? lol. Humans have always been drawn to something that is extraordinary, so in a tribe of brown skinned individuals, an olive skinned one will stand out and be considered more attractive… You should review your anthropological skills!

  14. BrandyMc says:

    Did you know that the native americans think the word Indian is a insult..They see it as a black person sees being called the N word.

  15. Sally says:

    Met a guy in college from India he could not believe though I was just a teenager I was not married already. Just because my skin was white.

  16. ElleGin says:

    In the past if you had fair skin it meant that you didn’t have to work in the fields, and so fair skin has become an indicator of wealth. It is now built-in in the general Asia aesthetics.
    I’m not obsessed with “becoming” fair since I was born relatively pale. As a Taiwanese, I will never be as pale as someone that comes from, let’s say, Sweden, but I stay out of the sun and prefer to keep my skin tone fair. I don’t like tanning for two reasons, ageing and skin cancer.

    I do think some people over here get a bit crazy, and a lot of mothers avoid soy sauce or coffee during pregnancy. Instead, they consume loads of tofu and soymilk, believing that it will give the children with paler skin.

  17. mags says:

    someone had a great comment about this once that in western society it is the tanning and exercising that have replaced “whiteness” as a class distinction. As someone above said does grow out of class distinctions, if you work in the field you get sun, etc and the British Empire definitely exported those ideas around the world.So i don’t think there’s any “genetic” predisposition. I don’t think evolutionarily early human men or women would have thought “ah fair skin, their offspring will thrive” just no correlation. but yeah i’m white and lived in Korea for 2 years, had a hell of time trying to find make up that didn’t make me look like a “Twilight” extra.

  18. BB says:

    I visited an Indian friend’s family once and they kept commenting on and praising my skin to the point were it was really awkward and uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love a compliment (which is a pleasant deviation from the usual “get a tan!”) but the way they did it was basically compare me to my friend and berate her for not doing enough to whiten her skin! I was pretty shocked….

  19. gabs says:

    Its the same for Latins or any non-white culture. My father is a dark latino, my mother is a white latina and people always say things to me and my sister about how lucky we are for getting our mothers skin. Its SO weird now that I think about it but its said like no big deal and you get desensitized to skin color talk.

  20. tidalsoul says:

    I went to India and I saw plenty of those ads. They sounds like “white is beautiful”. Kind of perverse. I am glad someone is talking about it, the indians I talked to were just referring to it as make-up not whitening cream.

  21. kimmy says:

    i like how she managed to bring up a potentially sensitive subject with such class. she is ridiculously gorgeous and she’s clearly got some personality to go with her looks. is she still dating dev??

  22. maggie says:

    Skin Bleaching is one thing, the tanning industry in the US for white people is a multi-million dollar business. What i found was sad, that in visiting South Korea last year, Many of the young girls, particularly thr well-off families, would have eye surgery to make thier eyes wider. This is a complete overhaul of thier face. To me this is very sad to not appreciate the beauty of every race and culture.

  23. ZenB!tch says:

    The Hispanics seem to have a whole shade system. I was born pale as hell like my dad (but with hazel instead of green eyes). I’m a burn, peel then tan kind of girl. My mom’s coloring is similar to Freida’s. My dad’s similar to Pierce Brosnan’s.

    I spent my childhood getting yelled at and chased with the sunblock because I was “ruining my beautiful white skin.” I ruined it alright – not the color (although it’s not really white any more). I ruined it by being out in the sun so much that it caused mottled brown spots which I’m slowly getting rid of with glycolic peels. My face is lighter again (I’m not going to bother with my arms – maybe the chest) but not its old white self yet however, here is the kicker – I’m feeling positively vampiric, I think I need to audition for Twilight. I was staring at those photos of Jason Momoa yesterday and instead of “OMG! he is hot” I was like “OMG I miss my skin color!”

  24. Leah No-No says:

    I’m half Native American and half white, and growing up I got a lot more attention and praise for my skin and features that my full-blooded cousins didn’t get. My grandmother used to discourage tanning also. It’s such a bummer, and it’s so pointless. Trying to completely change your skin is such a futile effort, you know?
    After bleaching my hair through most of high school and college I feel so much more confidant now with my natural black color and tanner skin. This is how I am meant to look! We (brown chicks) have to stop paying attention to the notion that we have to be Scandinavian-looking to be beautiful. I wish I’d seen more faces like Freida’s growing up.

  25. Rita says:


    Yes, that is exactly what I mean when I say it seems to be more than just the influence of a successful white culture. It seems rooted in our primal psyche, even more so than a religious purity. Look at the white robes and such of ancient times. In all ancient tribes an albino animal is considered special. Perhaps it is the fact that man came from a colored culture and white skin was the exception and thus “special”. This perspective goes way back.

  26. Goofpuff says:

    Here here for the annoying white skin creams! My mom would get upset if I got a tan in the summer as I am naturally very pale Asian and people always remarked on how white my skin is but I hated it! I always wanted to get a gorgeous tan.

  27. spinner says:

    You can’t beat people over the head as to what YOU think to be the most beautiful skin tone. People have a right to their own perception of beauty. I love pale skin with blond/ginger hair. So beautiful…but it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the beauty of other skin tones.

  28. Lisa says:

    Can I just say Freida is gorgeous!

  29. ZenB!tch says:

    @esblondie bronzer – embrace it, use it. Love it. I look so vampire since I stopped tanning. Bronzer helps a lot. It gets rid of that sickly glow that light olive skin has.

  30. mike says:

    From what I understand, Freida Pinto is considered a joke in India. This is because Indians feel that she always talks bad about India to foreigners and very little about what’s good.

    Anyways, she makes a typical mistake, in that fairness does not equal whiteness. Wanting to be fair isn’t the same as wanting to be white. Racists typically use this kind of flawed analogy when talking about nonwhites and it’s sad that Pinto, a nonwhite, is doing the same.

    Women have wanted to look fair long before whites have ever set their foot on these lands. Fairness has been traditionally ascribed to wealth and health, so it was a desirable trait to have.

    There are nonwhites who want to look white, but fair skin is not an accurate gauge of that. Better gauge of that is what type of plastic surgeries they have gotten. On that regard, Pinto is a hypocritical little b*tch because she has gotten plastic surgeries to look more white (find her pics before she was famous and you’ll see the differences) but she’s bagging India and Indians with her holier than thou attitude.

  31. MariPily says:

    Yes, same thing for a lot of Latin and Black cultures. My parents are from the Dominican Republic…my mom is a white Hispanic, my Dad is black, and all my life my sis and I were praised for having mom’s lighter skin. My Dominican family members were ecstatic when I had my first two children with a Russian man, because my kids came out very fair, with a Caucasian hair type. My last child is with an African American man, so she looks very different from her siblings, but even her African American family members go on and on about her being a “red bone” and ” having light skin”. It’s so sad, I hate that my kids are being noticed for a superficial thing like skin color, instead of their amazing heritage ( Dominican, Russian, African-American!…only in NY, lol).

  32. Bill Hicks is God says:

    Lighter skin in former European colonies in the tropics is a sign of superiority among the mentalities that think that way. Too many Indians think this way: Dark skin = ugly and representative of someone’s caste/social standing.

    Anglo-Indians for example (going back to the Raj, they are the descendants of British men who took Indian mistresses) still set themselves apart (above) the “natives.” They got better jobs and education because of their skin colour, British surnames and lack of an Indian accent.

    The same applies to Goans with Portuguese heritage and Indians with heritage from the Canary islands…Freida Pinto. Like her last name isn’t a clue of European heritage.

    As in all these former colonies, whites above Indians, white & Indian mix above non-mixed Indians, all whites and Indians above the blacks to not just reinforce the colonizers’ view that they were superiour but also to institutionalize “divide and conquer” by fostering and encouraging these views among “the subjects” of “Colour” themselves.

    In Guyana (former British Guiana) the mantra was and is: If you’re white, you’re alright; if you’re brown stick around; if you’re black go back.

    I know this because my father was Indo-Guyanese and one of the most racist people I’ve met I’m sorry to say. His colonial society and Indian culture raised him that way.

    I have an Indo-Jamaican brother-in-law whose sister married a black man and he will not speak to her and refuses to see their new baby. He is furious with his parents and has also called them hypocrites for a) raising him to have the beliefs in the first place and then b) telling him to accept the marriage. He’s right on that point.

    It’s utter bullshit. That the colonial and caste system mindfuck is still being played out is abhorrent.

  33. Maja says:

    August 2nd, 2011 at 12:43 pm
    Did you know that the native americans think the word Indian is a insult..They see it as a black person sees being called the N word.


    But this article is not about Native Americans, it’s about people from India. India is not an offensive word – it’s a country. When you say “an Indian actress” or whatever, it’s just stating the fact that this woman is from India. Nothing wrong about that.

  34. Sarah says:

    Yup, this is definitely an issue in the Latino culture as well. Fortunately, I’m from Texas, where a tan is inevitable, and I was raised by an amazing (and VERY light-skinned) Mexican American mother who never let me worry about such nonsense.

    • Jackie says:

      It has nothing to do with being vain or not accepting what God gave you & everything to do with the pressure from the society. The caste system that was implemented by the Spaniards before was responsible for that. The Peninsulares/Conquistadores or the Spain-born Spaniards were at the top of the hierarchy then followed by the Criollos or the American-born Spaniards. The Castizos (3/4 Spanish), Mestizos (1/2 Spanish) & Cholos (1/4 Spanish) were in the middle. The Indios or the natives, Zambos (Black-Native) & Blacks were at the bottom rank. In other words, the whiter you are, the higher your social status is. Unfortunately that practice was carried on for centuries that it was ingrained in the people’s minds that White is superior while dark is inferior & even after independence where the caste system was abolished, that mentality lived on. Fast forward to 100+ years & it is still the same. Just look at Mexico for example. Most of the actors, models, politicians, businessmen & elites who control the large percentage of the economy are Whites while the poor including those who cross the border illegally are mostly the Natives from Central & Southern Mexican states.

  35. Bill Hicks is God says:

    Clearly, BrandyMC cannot tell her Brown People apart…

  36. original kate says:

    in the 1800s in america pale skin was prized because it meant you did not have to work outside. you either were a modest shopkeeper/teacher or you had slaves and servants to do your outdoor work. people with tanned skin were instantly identified as poor or uneducated. in the 1920s and 30s the idea of leisure became attainable for average people and it went the other way: if you were tan it meant you had free time and if you were pale it meant you were toiling indoors all day, probably in a factory. now a tan means you have money to go to a salon and get a spray tan. funny how we are always trying to be seen as something we’re not.

    i am very pale and cannot lie in the sun without serious sunblock, and even though i just get pink and peel-y. i just stay pale, and i often have people advise me to “get some sun!” or go to a tanning bed. of course these people usually look like old leather bags, LOL.

  37. Cleo says:

    She and CNN’s Anjali Rao are both Indian girls who could pass for Latina. WEIRD.

  38. PrettyLights says:

    I think all skin tones are beautiful because it shows the diversity of the human race. I am polish/swedish and have fair skin and blond hair/blue eyes, and have noticed that I do tend to get hit on by men of other races more often, and I personally am more attracted to men with darker hair/features. I just think it’s being attracted to what’s different from you or different from what you grew up with. I have wished I was more exotic looking because I think women with darker skin tones and dark hair and eyes are so lovely but the grass is always greener, right?

  39. rissa says:

    brandy mc: im native american and that is not true! i have tons of native american friends and family. never once have i heard someone act offended by that.

    back to the topic, native americans prefer light skin as well.. from what ive seen

  40. lexirei says:

    Kaiser, this whole obsession with lighter skin is going on in the black community too. I find it quite sad. If you ever go into any hair supply store geared toward black people, chances are you’re going to see some type of skin lightening agent on the shelves. I urge people to see this documentary coming out called “Dark Girls”.

    Please everyone: embrace what you got!

  41. Lou says:

    Having lighter skin tones has nothing to do with looking “pure.” It’s a signal to others that you aren’t out working in the fields all day and that you have enough money to stay in the shade while other people take care of you. It’s why the upper class in many European countries would powder their faces. Evolutionarily there’s also some suggestion that fair skin is more desirable because it blushes easier and that’s supposed to be attractive somehow or, more precisely, communicate some worthwhile information to a potential mate. (I don’t remember the exact reason, it was in Survival of the Prettiest, I think.)

    And, for those who say this is white people putting off their issues onto dark skinned peoples, we tan. We want to look darker. Why? Because in our culture that shows you have time to lay out on the beach or money to spend at a tanning salon, that you care about your appearance enough to spend time on it, and don’t forget you look less chubby when tan and less chubby is what’s sexually attractive culturally right now. Cultural reasons change over time.

    And, my lily white grandma has bleaching creams in her cabinet too. No lie. It’s an old fashioned white woman thing in some places. This is a normal cultural practice in the sense that it isn’t unusual in any culture. It is, however, sad that women everywhere have to constantly jump through hoops to feel attractive.

  42. the original bellaluna says:

    @ original kate – It wasn’t just in the 1800′s, and it wasn’t just in America – it was basically anywhere with a firm “separation of class” mentality.

    Skin shade meant the difference between working outside as a labourer or working (or not having to work) inside. Again, a “class” thing.

  43. Blue says:

    It is so weird. White people are tanning to look darker and blacks, indians, south east asians are bleaching to be whiter. I’m Jamaican and i know when i go to west indian stores there are so many bleaching creams it’s crazy. Everyone wants to be lighter because it is “easier” and you’re considered prettier. It’s so sad for us not to except ourselves. Darker people need to stop coveting white skin.

  44. marge says:

    and in the west, fair skin people pay to have oompa-loompa-orange skin. Nobody is ever content with what nature gives us… sigh

  45. The Original Ashley says:

    @ Elle Gin hit it right on the head. My best friend’s grandmother was Japanese and she would say that it’s a stigma over there, if you were tan it mean’t you worked in the fields and were poor.

    While my grandmother was Mexican but she was Spanish-Mexican and in the summer (in Texas no less) she would always wear long sleeves and discourage me and my brother from staying outside in the sun. Two reasons was 1) I guess it has to do with the whole light Spanish, you’re European, not a native and 2) she was just racist against dark Mexicans (and it also mean;t you worked outside). Different times and that I suppose. I don’t know how Mexico is today but in her day being “Spanish” was like a badge of honor or something.

    So it’s not just South Asia that has the obsession with lighter skin. Judging by the other comments this affects pretty much every continent.

    And like you Ellie I don’t really go in the sun either. I always get comments “oh my god you’re so pale, tan!” but I was born with fair skin and I’m not going to prematurely age or acquire skin cancer so I can be someone else’s ideal. I like my no tan ass just the way it is. Maybe I should move to Asia where I wouldn’t get so much hate for being so pale lol ;)

  46. GeekChic says:

    @OriginalKate, I have always experienced the same thing. In America, you can’t be pale without facing massive amounts of derision. I am very pale, naturally blonde, with sort of blue-green-gray eyes. I just don’t have much in the way of natural pigment. I don’t tan, I burn. All of my life I’ve been told that I look like a ghost, that I need to get a tan, and that I’m too white. In high school people called me “Al” for albino, even though I’m clearly not suffering from albinism. People couldn’t believe that I was from Florida, since apparently everyone in Florida is supposed to spend every day at the beach and have a tan.

    Even now in my 30s people feel the need to tell me that my pale skin is ugly and I should go get an orange spray tan. And it’s not just me — I see people mocked on this site for being too pale and being told to go get a tan. It’s just beyond stupid and honestly pretty cruel. Some people are pale and some people are dark, with every shade in between, and no color is “better” or “prettier” than another. I so wish we as humans could get past stupid, superficial differences.

  47. Bill Hicks is God says:

    @GeekChic: That’s unfortunate, it really is but at the same time hopefully you can understand what it’s been like to have dark skin and be derided and disenfranchised for it. For centuries.

    We don’t get to choose HOW we come out. We can choose how to conduct ourselves and what kind of people we aspire to be and that is (or should be) accepting of everyone no matter what they “look” like.

    Funny to say on a gossip site where we routinely tear people we don’t know apart for that very thing, isn’t it? ;-)

  48. Bill Hicks is God says:

    And actually, if they’re poor it really doesn’t matter what colour a person’s skin is. They’re nothing. That’s centuries old too.

  49. yo momma says:

    easy for her to say-as she is on the fair-er side of the scale.

  50. anneesezz says:

    I have a good friend that is “native” or “American Indian” and she refers to herself as an Indian. I guess it depends on the person.

  51. Hibiscus says:

    I wouldn’t want to count all the boring and skin-cancer risking hours I’ve spent in the sun all the money I’ve spent in tanning-salons and everything just to get a tan.


    I’ve given that up now and embrace my paleness – even in summer.

    The only reason people in sun-intense regions developped dark skin during evolution is to give them a natural sun-protection.
    The reason why people in northern areas without much sun lost most of their pigment over the centuries is to enable them to absorb the important vitamin D better during the scarce sunny days.

    SO –
    BLAME THE SUN for all this!

  52. It is ME!! says:

    My dad is a dark Puerto Rican, and my mom is Irish, and one thing they taught me was that beautiful is beautiful- no matter the skin tone!

    Thanks, Mom and Dad!

  53. gg says:

    @BrandyMc – that is absolutely not true. I know many Native Americans and they call themselves Indians and refer to their culture as Indian ways. It is nothing whatsoever like the n-word to them. It’s only out of politcally correct respect that people refer to them as Native Americans.

    Frieda Pinto is so bloody gorgeous! I am paler than a cauliflower and I wish I had her skin! It’s all relative.

  54. Tuatara says:

    Kaiser, my goodness, stay off the tanning beds. They are terrible things.

  55. Leticia says:

    Sadly, I grew up with girls who wanted to get pregnant by white or light skinned boys, because they thought that having a light skinned baby was somehow an advancement for their family. They were actively trying to breed into their family gene pool certain physical features.

  56. really says:

    On some levels it is very sad, and rather pathetic to not accept who you are…… these soceity idles are good for a few, but why can we not see we are all Gods color-wheel creation! Melanin protects the skin from severe sun damage!

    Frieda Pinto is absolutely stunning! I love her color just as much as I love Charlize Theron’s color, just as much as I love Zoe Saldana’s color………. color of all shades is BEAUTIFUL.

    I would imagine some cultures just have not become civilized enough to embrace themselves without rather looking over their shoulder!

  57. Nymeria says:

    I have noticed that often on this site, people say about so-and-so, “S/He is so pale, gawd! Just get a tan already!” You can almost hear the exasperation radiating from these posts.

    But that is the same thing as telling someone with dark skin to “just bleach already.”

    I am only half-white, and I asked my non-pale parent whether pale skin is preferred in “the home country.” There was a pause, and then came the slow answer, “I guess there is some truth to that.” It made me sad, as well as quite ruminative.

  58. Runs with Scissors says:

    @Mike: “On that regard, Pinto is a hypocritical little b*tch because she has gotten plastic surgeries to look more white (find her pics before she was famous and you’ll see the differences) but she’s bagging India and Indians with her holier than thou attitude.”

    “…this proudly Indian actress has succeeded in Hollywood without having to compromise by changing her looks or the way she speaks.”

    Mike’s comment seems harsh, but unfortunately, I have to agree.

    She’s definitely gotten a nose job that demolished her natural Indian features, and here she is preaching about how terrible it is that people can’t just be happy with how they look and how she hasn’t “compromised” by changing her looks??

    Here’s an article about her skin lightening in L’Oreal ads:

    I don’t remember her complaining about that when it was making her money.

    I don’t like when people stand up to champion great causes who just reek of hypocrisy.

    Reminds me a little of Halle Berry complaining about how much harder it was for her to become so successful in Hollywood because she’s black, (she’s actually half black). She champions herself as a black actress who’s broken through on talent, yet she’s gotten plastic surgery that has made her look less black and has light skin (and is rumored to use skin bleach to lighten it even more, like Beyonce).

    The people I respect are those like Whoopi Goldberg, who made it on talent (no tit flashing) and who has “dark” skin and didn’t compromise her natural features by getting plastic surgery. People recognized her talent and she never waivered in who she was and she was respected and rewarded for it. These things just MEAN more coming from someone that you know REALLY had to struggle and yet didn’t give in. JMO

  59. Mim says:

    Fair skin is associated with youth, youth with fertility and fertility is what it all comes down to. Not saying that culture hasn’t influenced our perception of beauty. Of course it has and always will. But there is some biology in there too.

    Like a small waist, wide hips and boobies = fertility and therefore is considered sexy/beautiful

  60. NicoleAM says:

    Is anyone happy with themselves??

  61. Anonymous says:

    @Hibiscus, Me, too! After 20 years courting the sun, I’m finally embracing my inner white girl & loading up on the sun block & wearing a big hat & long sleeves to the beach. However, my forearms seem to be clinging to last year’s deep tan (read: sun damage) & all this talk of skin bleaching made go looking for a little shortcut back to my natural pallor.
    I found a lotion on Amazon by Vaseline called Healthy White. It seemed like it was targeted for Asia. I don’t think it’s sold here in the US b/c it sounds kind of racist & fucked up.

  62. Mairead says:

    I’ve heard that fairer skin is prized in India, but that is really sad.

    On Frieda having a nose job – it must be before she was 21 because it looks the same now as it did then. She has a slightly quirky end, which is sometimes smoothed out by photoshop, but often not.

    And being Irish, I’m as pasty as hell, so please, if it has a pink base, send some of that Vietnamese foundation over to me, because I have a devil of a time finding winter foundation pale enough and that doesn’t look like distilled buttercups.

  63. Parisienne says:

    Ouch, this skin issue seems to be universal!

  64. The H says:

    I do like to tan but … I LOVE my freckles. They make me look younger. :)

  65. Jaye E says:

    Yes, this is an issue that touches all ethnicities. I am african american and my mom told me that my great grandmother would dote on her light skinned grandchildren and verbally berate or shun her dark skinned grandchildren. Unfortunately, that kind of treatment gets internalized and that horrible negativity gets passed on to the next generation. I’ve heard some of my aunts and uncles make disparaging comments about dark skinned people. It’s shameful.

  66. Jane says:

    I was basically abandoned at birth because I wasn’t born as light as the rest of my family. It has affected my self esteem a lot.

  67. Callumna says:

    This is not a universal thing, it’s in places touched by the colonialism that’s dominated us for last 500 years.

    Some cultures prefer darker skin because it’s supposed to be more powerful. So this desire for light shades comes from colonialism and people who want to appear they never labor outside.

    Course Europeans and other Caucasians go through phases when a tan, outdoor glow is preferred.

    Health wise not getting enough natural sunlight makes you age faster, lose your muscle mass and bone density because you can’t get enough vitamin D — supplements don’t cut it. So just love yourself and enjoy some nature people, it’s healthy. So many of us need to just ignore the color folly and we’ll be healthier and stronger in the end.

    I love this girl’s attitude and willingness to bring up the awful issue. Role model.

  68. Shy says:

    Well it’s easy for Freida to judge it when she herself has light skin and is very pretty. Of course she can’t understand those other people. But they understand it very much.

    We know the only reason why Freida got that big role in Slumdog was because: 1) She was very pretty. 2) She had light skin. Would she be darker and not pretty then no one would hire her as love interest of our lead actor. Of course it’s easy for her to judge and say: “Don’t do this”.

    It’s like that episode in Friends in first season when Ross, Monica and Chandler asked all the gang to restaurant. And Rachel was poor waitress, Joey was actor without job and Phoebe didn’t get too much money either. And Rachel, Phoebe and Joey had to tell the others that they can’t go to restaurants every day because they don’t earn as much money as Ross, Monica and Chandler. And Ross was like: “Well, I never though about money”. And Rachel: “That’s because you have them”….

    Same here. Of course Freida can’t understand why Indians are obsessed with light skin. That’s because she has light skin and is pretty and that’s why she stars in Hollywood films and other Indian actors with dark skin and not pretty don’t get invited to play love interest of James Franco. If she would be on their place she probably wold think the same way.

  69. miii says:

    Kaiser- I’m half indian, too. :)
    I’m also very fair- and my family always like it. I don’t know why- but I don’t see anything wrong with prefering a look.

  70. miii says:

    Freida doesn’t have light skin. she’s on the Medium/darker side, imo. She’s average in looks too (see bollywood actresses). But there’s nothing wrong with that.
    There are *really* outstandingly beautiful indian girls with dark complexions and really superb facial features- so color has nothing to do with it.

  71. fallen says:

    My parents are Indian and i was born and raised in Canada when i was born i looked white, i was so pale. As ive gotten older my skin tone has changed but it was always lighter than my sisters and people in my family would say that that they wish they she had been born as pale as me and that pissed me off.

    My parents are from Northern India and there is a way of thinking that lighter people dont have to work outside as much, therefore being of higher class. Theres also the caste system which is really messed up.

    I would say that Freida isn’t considered light skinned by Indians and she likely felt pressure to have her skin lightened.

  72. Catherine says:

    @ Nymeria – ITA. It’s funny how people are on board with how sad and creepy lightening cream and the desire for whiter skin are, yet ANY time a fair-skinned actor or actress graces this site the comments are full of disparaging remarks : “get a tan!” “Too pale!” , etc. Either type of shaming based on skin color ( saying someone is too pale or too dark) is repugnant.

  73. Adrien says:

    As a half-Asian I believe her. Most beauty products in South Asia are geared towards skin whitening. Whitening isn’t even a word allowed here (Lightening is used). Marketing people used that term and they sell well more than anti-aging creams.

  74. DeeVine says:

    Agree with some posters. Skin “lightening” is NOT the same as trying to be “white”. There are plenty of light skinned Asians (Indians, Koreans, Chinese etc) and those are the ones these women aspire to look like. Nothern Chinese people are lighter skinned than those who live in the mediterranean.

    I live in Asia, and women go for skin lightening because 1. light skin = wealth (i.e. not out working in the sun) 2. as Asians age, transluscent skin makes them more youthful. God forbid they ever get a freckle. Many 60 year olds have 40 year old skin. There is nothing racist about it, just vanity.

    In Asia women generally take care of their skin like brushing their teeth. One of my white friends once commented she is grateful for living in Asia as it made her take care of her skin, and she looks much younger than her younger sister who lives in New Zealand.

    However in India I believe the caste system is still quite entrenched, so there are other connotations to skin colour.

  75. mangomommy says:

    it’s called ‘brownism’ in academic circles. i took a lot of crap from my family about my looks and colour, and twenty years lated i turned out to be more attractive and successful than all of them. For the record, I’m Arawak native, south east asian, west african descent. My family objected to the strong Arawak features and deep tan in the summer time.

    Having gotten out from under that attempt at psychological control, it’s clear to me that this kind of mentality is intellectually inferior and unworthy of comment. Subjecting yourself to this line of thinking is similar to entertaining thoughts about child brides or fundamentalist religion.

    What really gets me is how many white people are surprised that brown people get tanned, as if it’s a phenomena restricted to white skin. That’s an interesting indicator of a certain mind set also. Best to just avoid all these kinds of people I think.

    Ultimately, my husband is Ukranian/danish/british isles and we have two kids who know more about the history of civilizations and their diaspora at six and eight than most people learn in a life time, because it’s their inheritance. People like Frieda Pinto who enjoy the privilege of whatever special status the accident of birth confers to them can continue to wallow in their ignorance and consider themselves enlightened.

  76. Jacqueline says:

    Im native Brazilian on my mothers side and Russian on my father’s. In Russia, Im a chornye and people there including my father’s family, want nothing to do with my mom and I. However, my Brazilian family worship me for being white with green eyes long black hair. I think they secretly hate me for getting all the attention from my grandparents. Its disgusting but life is way better when you’re white in places like that. Whites have made themselves superior to everybody else. My grandparents in Brazil are high poor, but will go to lengths to buy me better gifts, “to make up for lost time.” Here I tan easily and my friends envy it.

  77. Anonymous says:

    @ Bill Hicks is God “Lighter skin in former European colonies in the tropics is a sign of superiority among the mentalities that think that way. Too many Indians think this way: Dark skin = ugly and representative of someone’s caste/social standing.

    Anglo-Indians for example (going back to the Raj, they are the descendants of British men who took Indian mistresses) still set themselves apart (above) the “natives.” They got better jobs and education because of their skin colour, British surnames and lack of an Indian accent.

    The same applies to Goans with Portuguese heritage and Indians with heritage from the Canary islands…Freida Pinto. Like her last name isn’t a clue of European heritage.”

    That was then. I’m a very distant cousin of Frieda’s -like 13 times removed distant, but from the same Mangalore Catholic community as her family, and my parents were picked on all through school for their British first names. My cousins and I have been mostly raised outside India but we all have very traditional Indian names as a direct result of the treatment our parents received during the nationalism following independence. When I was at school in Bangalore, the anglo-indian kids were almost all scholarship students and were picked on as well. From what I saw, in the early 90s at least, being too associated with the English was not something envied.

    But the fair skin complex was something nearly everyone had, so I think it’s something removed from colonialism. Thankfully my darker skinned mother hated this way of thinking and made sure her two pale children didn’t start thinking this way. I think it’s more so a sign that you don’t do manual labor -I think having pale but rough skin with callouses would hardly be considered very attractive. And also just exoticism. If you’re dark, blonde hair and blue eyes are exotic.

  78. Paige says:

    I’m so pale I’m luminous!! I look like a zombie in photos! I think the fake tan orange look is horrible and fake tan smells. I can cope with being pale but what i really dont like is the half and half tan problem where my arms and hands go a little brown from the sun. And if you try to tan, you get bikini lines etc. Not good – I like to be one shade all over and its hard work with the sunscreen!! And i have brown pigmentation on my face from the slightest amount of sun. Sigh. I would much prefer to be naturally brown

  79. AA says:

    Someone mentioned that it’s hard to tell she’s Indian by her name. Like it’s explained in the second paragraph here (, I bet she’s mixed blood, descended from Portuguese (European) stock — they colonized the state of Goa, a couple hundred miles from Mumbai.

    • Nikita says:

      I’m Goan. My parents and grandparents as well as great grandparents are too. ALL of them including me have Portuguese surnames. From my mom’s side its Pinto (haha same as Freida) and my dads side its Tavares. My dad instilled in me the idea that being fair-skinned does not entitle me to special treatment and so hes never said that we might have Portuguese heritage. He only told me that during the portuguese rule, a lot of the locals were baptized into the catholic church and their names and surnames were changed. But change of skin color does not really come with change of name and i was wondering how a lot of other goans are dark (stereotypical indian skin)skinned while i’m quite fair though i must say, the sun(indias position from the quator) definitely has a lot to do with skin colour.. my parents are about 3 shades fairer than i am (i walk to school in the scorching

  80. Addie says:

    In the worild we live in, Light people wanna be darker, darker people wanna be lighter, people with curly hair want straight and straight haired want curly.ect.

    It is better to just accept and embrase the skin, hair ect you were born in and not oppose it.

    You will never win fighting who you are.

  81. Princess says:

    yes… Arabs are also fascinated with white skin. its a Middle Eastern disease. Must be something in the water.

  82. Nymeria says:

    Erm, Princess? You might want to double-check your geography / ethnicity… meaning that Arabs aren’t the only ones in the Middle East, and the Middle East isn’t the only place with this white skin obsession.

  83. John Wayne Lives says:

    I think it’s so cool how many mixed race people are proud of their mixed raceness :) . I am also. My dad is Spanish/Mexican Indian and my mom is Scots/Irish. I am a pale hispanic, but I’ve experienced light-skinned predjudice/ preference on both sides, and it made self-identification a struggle sometimes. Especially as my older sis (mom’s first marriage) is a snow white German/Scots/Irish lol. But my mom and dad would have none of it, and now, it’s just another thing that makes me, me. I have light skin in the winter, and brown skin in the summer, if i choose to tan. :) For years, I shunned the sun, afraid of a little tan, but now I get a chuckle out of my Summer Mexican coming out tehe. My sis and I have always been proud of the colorblind way my mom raised us. And my brown-ness is one of the things that attracted my very white hubby to me. And that makes me love my brown skin more. He loves my brown as much as I love his white, and that is a very secure feeling, to love eachothers differences.
    I think we all should do that a little more.

  84. AM says:

    What Freida is saying is nothing knew. Africans and Asians have been bleaching their skin for many many years. They’re constantly bombarded with western images of beauty (white skin, blue eyes and blond hair). Very sad wish people could accept who they are and be proud of it.

  85. Elizabeth says:

    Very fair skin used to be prized in Western culture because it meant you didn’t do physical labour (i.e. farming). Fair skin meant you were rich and you paid other people to do this for you while you stayed out of the sun – reading or something else cultured. Now darker skin (a tan) is a sign that you have lots of leisure time to be outside lounging around on holiday. So now the darker skin is a sign of being rich. And long ago, being thin meant you were a poor peasant without enough to eat and being fat meant you were rich and had excess food. Very weird. But I’m glad she is talking about this and bringing attention to it.

  86. Bill Hicks is God says:

    @Anonymous: I get it. Believe me. Did you read my entire post? If not, read Russell Peter’s book “Call Me Russell.”

    What I was getting to, aside from my personal reference was the “hierarchy” of colour. That’s all. No hard feelings I hope.

    And yes, colonialism laid the cornerstone.

    I am also well aware that one of the world’s largest genocides was committed by the Raj. The majority of real human skeletons taught in anatomy classes in medical schools the world over came from India.

    Still I maintain, the darker one (women) is in India, the uglier you are regarded and essentially not worth marrying. Of course darker-skinned Indians are going to pick on the lighter-skinned ones and your dark Granny knew what she was talking about. She’d likely lived it.


  87. Bill Hicks is God says:

    p.s. South Asians are Caucasian. The skeleton tells the story.

    I’ll shut up now, it’s a painful topic for me.

  88. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    If you think that the pressure on whites to darken their skin is anything like the pressure of darker women to lighten their skin I just don’t I can agree with any of that. There are so many reasons that the world looks at itself this way but these are the experiences that don’t seem to appear in the discourse much. I don’t normally engage in oppression competitions and I won’t have to bother with one now since there’s not contest. You think tanning beds are the means of darkening your skin in this post-ozone world? Why dance around it? People hate blackness, and in the great chain of revulsion, the darker your are, the worse you are. Is being obsessed with making oneself and continuing to be as white as possible a sign of vanity, or is denying the implications behind it? A tanning trend does not dislodge the still-present trajectory of centuries of shaming and punishing darkness. And lest you think that the internalized self hatred incubates in its slot and does nothing more, not so the case. Where the privileged spot at the top goes to whiteness, it picks up passengers on the way down to visit the bottom floor of acceptability, each floor more disenfranchised than the last. You may never be quite good enough for the top to grant you humanity you deserve, but at least you’re not at the bottom, and–oh, no, no, perhaps this discrimination has been for a reason, maybe it’s deserved. Well, the mission is clear: separate yourself from inferiority, express a healthy dread of its presence and distance yourself from that appearance so doggedly you’ll be packed with more carcinogens than a Camel factory.

    I don’t have make things like this up, I’ve living through its accuracy my entire life.

  89. Bopa says:

    @ Spinner

    I think you missed the point. It’s not about trying to change peoples view points about what they believe is beautiful. It’s about stopping a cycle of systematically making people believe that their own skin tone isn’t beautiful in certain cultures. My sister in law often talks about how her mother drilled it into her head that lighter people were more beautiful. She said her mother told her to get a lighter husband so she could have pretty babies. It’s not about you or trying to make anyone think that being light is wrong.

  90. Ro says:

    “Slumdog Millionaire showed that European and American audiences could be receptive to non-Western stories.”

    Bullshit. Slumdog Millionaire was total crap ad hominem cheese. People loved SM because it was just a giant movie about dramatic depictions of poverty with a love story on the side. Not exactly a legitimate depiction of a “non-western story.”

  91. cici says:

    umm…whaaaat?AHHAHA. THAT is NOT NOT NOT pale skin. thats dark tan skin, wtf r these ppl talkin g baout??