A Reason to Smile

A Reason to Smile

Q&A: Why is white skin believed to be so beautiful?

Is beauty really only skin deep? Well...kind of!

(Unedited) question submitted via Formspring:

“Why is white so beautiful? Soap Operas all over the world only show the light-skinned people. Asian countries have surgeries and accessories to widen eyelids. Light-skinned artists are admired as the most beautiful ones (Beyonce, Drake, Chris Brown, JLo).”


This was one of the questions we discussed in depth in a recent episode of Rise UP with B. Dave Walters, along with:

NEW BEGINNINGS! Setting goals, being too picky, dealing with racism, ‘real’ vampires, werewolves, witches, and magic; the Dalai Lama vs the Pope and much, much, more!

Click here to listen

So, for this question: like anything, some people have a preference for white or fair skin, and some don’t.   Although it is hard to argue with that on a cultural level, lighter skin has always been perceived as ‘more’ beautiful.


So, why is that?

Many people believe it’s just plain institutional racism, inherited from centuries of ‘white oppression’.  And while that is certainly a part of it (maybe a big part), it is actually not where the idea came from originally.

In the past, very pale skin was a status symbol for one main reason: if you had very pale skin, it meant you could afford to stay inside out of the sun every day, instead of working for a living like everyone else!   This is the exact same reason that being massively overweight was perceived as beautiful in ancient Greece; it proved that you had the resources to get massively overweight.

In both cases, your wealth and status was literally written all over you.


Over time, as Imperialism spread across the world, fair skin became a status symbol for a different reason.  Most European nations put a big emphasis on bloodline and ancestry, so being a fair-skinned minority ‘proved’ you could claim a portion of that heritage for yourself; since your fair skin meant you had a white parent or grandparent.  And like any oppressed people, after a certain point, being able to show you were somehow like your oppressors became preferable.

Among slave and former slave populations in the US, this peaked with someone who could ‘pass’ for white, like Vin Diesel or Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses, both of which are bi-racial.

Although there has always been a heavy cultural component of what we perceive as beautiful, we almost all have a universal appreciate for proportion.  Certain ratios of the eyes to the mouth, the length and width of the face, and some other factors are almost always perceived by human beings as pleasing.


Of course, there is no problem with a certain image being the mass media’s idea of ‘beautiful’, unless you start to feel bad about yourself because you are not that.  Unfortunately, making you feel bad about yourself fuels multi-billion dollar hair, makeup, clothing, and fitness industries.   But, if it makes you feel any better, it has long been rumored that your average Playboy centerfold photo shoot takes between 50 and 70 THOUSAND photos of which they pick roughly 8-10 to put in the magazine.  That is before airbrushing and photoshopping, and it also doesn’t take into account implants, hair extensions, and who knows what else.

So when you hear people complain that those women don’t really exist…in many ways they don’t!


What do you think ? Feel free to comment down below!

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B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

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