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Confessions of a D Girl: Colorism and Global Standards of Beauty | Chika Okoro | TEDxStanford

Confessions of a D Girl: Colorism and Global Standards of Beauty | Chika Okoro | TEDxStanford

Translator: Marcelo Papetti
Reviewer: Queenie Lee The movie “Straight Outta Compton”
comes out. I’m so excited. I’m from LA, so this movie
is particularly close to my heart. I saw it in theaters three times. So I’m cruising the Internet devouring
everything I can about this movie. I come across the casting call. This movie has already come out
and I’m no actress, so I wouldn’t actually audition, but I just wondered, hypothetically, if I did, what role would I get? I look at the casting call,
I’m going down the categories, and I start at the top: the A girls. The casting call reads: “These are the hottest
of the hottest, models, must have real hair, no extensions.” Well, since I have 20 inches
of Brazilian hair extensions on my head, doesn’t quite apply to me. But that’s fine. I go to the next category: the B girls. The casting call reads:
“These are fine girls, long natural hair, must have light skin,
Beyoncé’s the prototype hit here.” Light skin? Also not me. And might I add: not even Beyoncé
made the cut to be an A girl. But that’s fine. (Laughter) I go to the next category: the C girls. The casting call reads: “These are African American girls, can have extensions,
must be medium to light skin toned.” Now, maybe back when I lived in Boston, in the middle of the winter can I get away with being
“medium skin toned,” but since I’ve come back
to sunny California where I spend all my free time
baking in the sun, not so much. So I scroll all the way down to the last category: the D girls. The casting call reads:
“These are African American girls, poor, not in good shape, must have a darker skin tone.” A darker skin tone. Well, I guess that’s me: a D girl. When I first read this, I felt betrayed. Any given year, there are just a handful of movies
starring black actors and actresses, just a handful of opportunities when people can see actresses
that look like me, on the big screen, and see that we are fierce
and beautiful and desirable. So I felt betrayed. Not even in these small circles
I’m allowed to feel beautiful? I felt shoved aside for those
of more “favorable” features: light skin, light eyes,
long, soft real hair. But the more I thought about it, the more the feeling
of betrayal slipped away for the more familiar feeling
of “that’s just the way it is” because in my world,
this phenomenon is all too familiar. Something just as sinister
and subtle as racism: Colorism, the discrimination of those
with a darker skin tone, typically among individuals
within the same racial or ethnic group. The story of colorism in the US
begins with slavery. The mass rape of African slave females
by white male slave masters gave birth to a cohort
of mixed-race slave children. These mixed-race slaves are related
to the slave masters and had more Anglo features,
and were given preferential treatment and allowed to work inside the house,
doing less strenuous work, as opposed to the darker skinned slaves that had to work out in the fields,
doing more laborious work. Even after slavery was abolished, whites still gave more
preferential treatment to blacks that had
more Anglo-type features, giving them better access to jobs,
housing and education. The thing is, though,
even within the black community, black people used skin tone
and facial features to discriminate against each other. They would only allow
entrance into sororities, fraternities or elite social clubs to blacks that were able to display
Anglo-type features. They’d go through a series of tests
to see if you fit the bill. One well-known test was the “brown paper bag” test. Where if you were lighter
than a brown paper bag, you’re in! But if you were darker
than a brown paper bag, you’re out. Another well-known test
was the pencil test, where they would take a pencil
and run it through your hair to make sure that it’s straight enough
so the pencil wouldn’t get stuck. The last test was called the shadow test, where they would take a flashlight
and shine it against your profile and look at the shadow that your profile
made against the wall. And if it matched that
of a white person’s profile, you’re fine. But if it didn’t, you’re out. Now, though these practices
are no longer in effect today, the effects of them
are still very much so present. I remember a common “compliment” I would often get
in middle and high school, often told to me by other black males;
it went to the effect of: “Oh! You’re so pretty
for a dark skinned girl.” And it doesn’t help that the media continues
to place a premium on lighter skin by retouching and photoshopping
the skin of actresses of color before putting them
on the cover of magazines, as can be seen here, here, here and even here. Now, colorism is not
just isolated to the US, its effects are global, as best illustrated by the skin-lightening
and skin-bleaching creams all over the world. In India and Asia alone, skin lightening and skin bleaching
is a multi-billion dollar business. Despite the harmful toxins
that are present in these products, people are still willing
to take the risk and use them in order to achieve what they
are led to believe is beautiful. And beauty products
have flocked on this insight. One known brand, “Vaseline,”
even partnered with Facebook to come up with an app that would
lighten the skin of you profile picture in order to promote
their skin-lightening cream. And you can’t travel throughout Asia
without being inundated by advertising and commercials that promise happiness and success
if you could just be a little bit lighter. (Laughter) Studies have shown that these messages
that we see at a young age have a profound effect on us. In 2010, CNN did a study where they interviewed young children,
just five, six, seven years old, and asked them to place
values and attributes to people based on their skin tone. Here’s a clip from that study. (Video starts) Interviewer: And why is she
the smart child? Girl: Because she is white. Interviewer: OK. Show me the dumb child. And why is she the dumb child? Girl: Because she’s black. Interviewer: Well, show me the ugly child. And why is she the ugly child? Girl: Because she’s black. Interviewer: Show me
the good-looking child. And why is she the good-looking child? Girl: Because she’s light-skinned. Chika Okoro: These messages
that we see at such a young age and these messages that we internalize, they stay with us. They stayed with me. And though I denied it and blocked it out
and I say I’m strong, I’m smart, I’m accomplished, I’m beautiful,
I’m here at Stanford and I’m not a D girl, this stuff, these messages, they stayed with me. And they manifest in this voice
that makes me question, makes me doubt
and makes me think: “But wait …” “Am I a D girl?” It stays with me. And so now, whenever someone
gives me compliment or says, “Oh! You look nice, you look pretty,” the voice fills in the rest
of the sentence with: “for a dark skinned girl.” It stays with me. And it makes me question my intentions because even though I say that I have these extensions
just for fun and that I like them, that voice says “No!” “You got them because you’re trying
to reach a beauty standard you can actually never obtain.” It stays with me. Even as I go to send
a simple text message, that voice in my head tells me that I should be embarrassed
or ashamed when I scroll all the way to the end,
to the last, darkest emoji. It stays with me. But I don’t want it to stay with me. And the good thing is it doesn’t have to. Because these beauty
preferences that we have, they’re not something we are born with, they’re learned. And if they’re learned,
they can be unlearned. Among us are CEOs and co-founders,
directors of marketing, you all are the arbiters
of what society considers beautiful by deciding who you chose
to put in your advertising or who you chose to be
the face of you brand. So you have the opportunity
to make the unconventional choice. And those of us that consume
these messages, we play our role too. Because the first step
to change is awareness. And now everyone in this room
is a little more aware and will see the world
just a little bit differently. And you don’t have to passively accept what society tells us
to think is beautiful. We can question it,
and we can challenge the status quo. Because when we do, we get one step closer to broadening
the standard of beauty and creating a society
where the world can see that D girls are beautiful too. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)

100 thoughts on “Confessions of a D Girl: Colorism and Global Standards of Beauty | Chika Okoro | TEDxStanford

  1. All the guys in the comments section who are only commenting on her looks are missing the whole point. You are still judging her worth based only on her appearance.

  2. Honey you have permed hair and talk like the 80โ€™s valley girl from the breakfast club. Embrace yourself then we can talk.

  3. Stop letting society define your level of beauty!! You are a child of God. Your beauty is unmeasurable!!!

  4. Yet it is okay for you to rock your 20" Brazilian Hair EXTENSION. ๐Ÿ˜SO IN THE END U TAKE THE WEAVE OUT?!!!! OH YOU DONT….๐Ÿ˜

  5. i agree with everything but the third actress on the slide is aishwarya rai and she is naturally a fair skinned indian actress…and this problem of light skin vs dark skin is also quite prevalent in india..

  6. Ya'll know melanin is in..the darker you are, more strength, beauty; that's why medical science is researching the benefits of melanin and why we're stronger, don't age, rarely get wrinkles, etc….I really think brothas have the problem selecting dark skinned women..but we dont have an issue selecting dark skinned men. Im medium/dark and dont date men who have this colorism issue. If I see it seeping through..Im gone. I taught my daughter from infancy to be proud of her color and she is a very confident young lady..and then we have family members who tell the men….."dont bring no dark skin girl home" …so sad… dark skinned males should realize that if they have a child with a light skinned sista, the child can have your skin tone and nothing of the mother…smh..

  7. Fu** colorist racism bull****. People need to look past the colors of people DAMMIT. Itโ€™s not the outside of a person, itโ€™s the person inside that means everything, why canโ€™t people see that. It ainโ€™t right

  8. Personal power trumps colorism any day. Once you get your mind set on the right thoughts colorism though it exist wont stop or bother you. I see way too many native dark people of all nationalities succeeding. Colorism, Weightism, How Good you look compared to everyone else ismmsssss. Too many to count๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

  9. There is absolutely no proof that light skinned people worked in the house. Or did less strenuous labor.

  10. The world of inequality, although it is puffed up to be the real world, is unreal. We need to simply relate to the earth directly and the connectedness of the earth's wonderfully diverse beings. -evol

  11. Honestly, you are beautiful. Look at what you just did. I'm proud of you. You could have worn something different. This looks more suitable for a party.

  12. You are as dark as me and I consider myself beautiful because I look like Lupita…and I never thought she was beautiful because she looked like me…but the world has affirmed us…we are beautiful!!! ..

  13. Not trying to undermine tbe message of video.but what is NOT PC to talk about is the even bigger indicator / requirement of who in every race gets the parts in Hollywood. That is those who were raised as part of the elite gender inversion. (egi.) Check it out, it's on YT but many other sources bured (Women w very broad shoulders 3 + head widths, (broader than hips) very long forearms, and many more indicators. Do the homework. Blessings


  15. The Tower of Babel occurred 50,000 years ago. Subsequently, people attained different shades of color. See Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey.

  16. When we ALL stop looking at skin tones and make the character and abilities the focal points we will make very big steps forward.

  17. Never should judge someone by the color of their skin. But by the content of their character, personality, etc…

  18. You need to take that ridiculous looking weave out of your head. Then you will see your tru beauty !!!

  19. "Just agree with me you morons!" – Ahhh, ok, and maybe you can get a life and standards that are not one inch deep.

  20. Allowing Hollywood to determine your standards of beauty is like allowing a McDonald's fast food resturant to determine your dietary requirements. If it's not on the menu, they can't serve you.

  21. ๐Ÿง’๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿฆณ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿฆฐ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿฆณ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿง‘๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿฆฐ๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿง”๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿง“๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿฆฑ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿฆฒ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘ฒ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿฆฒ๐Ÿ‘ณ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ณ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ท๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ท๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿง•๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’‚๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’‚๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ•ต๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿณ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿณ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐ŸŽ“๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐ŸŽ“๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐ŸŽค๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐ŸŽค๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿญ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿญ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿ’ป๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿ’ผ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿ’ผ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿ”ง๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿ”ง๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐ŸŽจ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐ŸŽจ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿš’๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿš’๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€โœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€โœˆ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€๐Ÿš€๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฟโ€โš–๏ธ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿฟโ€โš–๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฐ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿคต๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿคด๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿฆธ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿฆธ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿฆน๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿฆน๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคถ๐Ÿฟ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿง™๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿง™๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿง๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿง๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿง›๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿง›๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿงœ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿงœ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿงš๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ผ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿคฐ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿคฑ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ™‡๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ™†๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™‡๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’‡๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’‡๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’†๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿง–๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ’†๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿง–๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ’…๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿคณ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿ•ด๐Ÿฟ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ

    But in the end when we die we all just turn into this.

    ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™€๏ธ (canโ€™t change because all skin turns icky! When you pass on.) because we are human to, just like everyone else.


    These rest updated yet. I remember when I saw these, they didnโ€™t have darker skinned emoji until there was an uproar and people called us complainers.

    Iโ€™m proud of these emojis but not proud it took us asking for these and not common sense.

    So now I can use these with all my joy and happiness.

    I do wish for more ethnically corrected hair or maybe natural options, just like there is an option for different colors for the same hair, and a section dedicated to just blonde and ginger hair.

  22. When comes to races, when we recognize that there only one race. On this island that in this vast sea of stars called Earth. There is a multitude of culture which is affected by the separation by the walls of racism, sexism and other sinister not so many hidden agendas. The beauty is found in the plain truth that there is but one race HUMANITY. That humanity consists of one flash, not light or dark skin. When we recognize this, then we can man can exist as one with him/her self as God intended him to.

  23. We are ( blk people) are living the same phenomenon that our ancestors lived in this country, when and how can it stop? That's the question! Mic'19 ADOS get involved!

  24. ..se ke lo ke dice esta mujer tiene sentido; estan mal acostumbrandonos a esa forma de ver el mundo, sus razas & demas, la in-jus-ticia, habito, forma de ser humana esta mal habituandonos a estas formas de ser, ver las cosas, actuar & demas.. yo, personalmente tengo amor ร— todo ser viviente, no importa su tamaรฑo, genero, especie & demas, amor ร— todo ser de creaxion ร— siempre, namaste๐Ÿ™

  25. Even in Africa the darkest skin is a laughing stock. The whole world prefer light skin . Unfortunately, It is what it is.

  26. This makes me so sad, and ashamed for us. Not only would she be subject to racism, but also colorism!! How sick are we??

  27. This girl is upset at the world not because society thinks she's a "D" girl, BUT because she knows she's a "D" girl and tries to make the rest of us feel bad. Well, "Ddddee girl", I've got something to say too – don't blame it on the good looking people because you're not and don't blame it on the smart people because you're not! You're at Standford, but you're not Standford level. Your limited vocabulary stands as proof against you. It is obvious you're there because of affirmative action!

  28. Colorism is real. That said, there is a term "tall, dark and handsome," not tall, light and handsome. And if someone is very white they also are made fun of. And I'm not sure we don't naturally have all have similar standards for judging good looks in people or even animals. When it comes down to it, we over-value appearance.

  29. I.

  30. We need more dark skin girls and guys in beauty and fashion…as a white person I am so so bored of seeing THE SAME REPLICA WHITE FACE in magazines and tv.

  31. this is interesting to me. Where I live a lot of people go tanning and there are many products to make yourself look darker. But I never heard of someone who wanted to have lighter skin?

  32. In my eye i see a beautiful woman, you have a beautiful tone, if i was 10 years younger Id still be to old. but in my eye, your beautiful !!!!!!!

  33. Worth is not derived from appearance, Its from your actions

    The more children are taught, both at school and at home, that colour is what determins your worth and fate in this world, the more problems we will see and we will never move forward from the beliefs of the past

    I was always taught that I determin my worth and other people make the same choices…. It has nothing to do with colour, the sooner it is realised that actions and behaviours are what matters the better our society will be

  34. It's so hard to listen to. I struggled with this all my life. It's hard to have euro centric beauty standards thrust upon you when you aren't white. It doesn't translate over to someone of a different ethnicity because our genetics determines our morphology. The frustration of fighting to fit into a system that won't accept you as attractive and trying to find self acceptance at the same time is challenging and almost impossible. No matter what modifcations one days at the end of the day you can never meet that standard. I think by speaking about it this lovely woman will banish these issues from her soul. Gotta follow in her lead!

  35. I know what's she reaching for here. BUT no one is forcing you to wear weave or anything. You can't blame society if people aren't as attracted to dark skin as light skin.

    The truth is: media and society only push what sells…so its all of us consumers as a whole who are telling the media what we like, and they give people what makes money. You can't blame media, its average people who go for what they naturally prefer, and the media gives what we want. If all dark skin media made lots of money, you would see that all the time as well.

  36. Idk where yโ€™all live but I live in California with the highest percentage of Latinos and I love tan skin!! I think tan is is the most beautiful even though all shades are beautiful!

  37. Her skin is superior she has a super power that lighter skinned people do not have but the world tells her that her strength is a weakness ..sad she can absorb the suns energy more then any European… study show that sunlight and lack of sun light correlate with depression and happiness … we all need vitamin D!

  38. I love dark skin. There is nothin wrong w/ it. Brown n super dark is all good. Beautiful dark women matter 2 me a lot!

  39. Yass! This was a powerful TED talk! We need to keep talking about colorism and make strides to put it to rest! Thanks! Sincerely—a "pretty for a dark skinned-C list girl"๐Ÿ™‚

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