Saturday, June 15, 2002

The beauty of light skin Send this entry to: Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

The beauty of light skin Do we all like pale women? This article in the New York Times talks about the preference for light-skinned women in Africa. This paragraph is interesting:
To social critics on this continent, skin lighteners are merely another negative legacy of white colonialism. After all, to be white was long an essential passport to power and wealth. Such bleaches are not unique to Africa, but it is in Africa a vast continent with a black population in the hundreds of millions that the products seem most absurd.
To get more information on this topic, I suggest this highly informative site. The general conclusions are pretty obvious-but this a representative sample of the text:
Some data point to such a behavioral difference. Feinman and Gill asked 549 male and 482 female white college students to indicate the complexions they liked and disliked in the opposite sex. The men tended to prefer lighter shades of skin in women whereas the women tended to prefer darker ones in men. The contrast was more striking when the subjects stated their dislikes. While 30% of the men disliked a black complexion, only 10% of the women did so. Similarly, 82% of the women disliked the two lightest shades, while the corresponding proportion for men was only 56%.
When I went to Bangladesh in 6th grade, it was strange to hear people talking about complexions all the time. The first thing that people would ask about someone is "what color are they?" There was an obvious judgement here-black was bad, fair was good. People would often sneer when they said someone was black-while they would smile when they said someone else was fair. These weren't conscious acts, the colors had such strong connotations that they didn't even think of it (by the way-if you see a personal in a South Asian newspaper-if they say someone is "wheatish," that means they're butt-black. It's kind of like the equivalent of "having a good personality"). Why so extreme? In places like Bangladesh field workers get darkened by the sun rather strongly. The wealthy classes on the other hand can maintain a pretty pallid light brown complexion. Of course over time, darkness becomes associated with the lower classes, while lightness the upper classes. Add to the fact that lower class women almost certainly married up if they were genetically fair-skinned enough to look attractive to an upper-class suitor-thereby imparting their descendents with a genetic as well environmentally fair complexion-you have a layer cake of color that might smear at the borders though it always maintains its integrity. Of course, skin tone is important in the black community as well. In the end, one of most irritating issues when talking about aesthetics is that it always comes back to hegemonic European standards. Certainly this might have an influence (eye-lid surgery anyone?), but it's kind of patronizing to think that non-whites can never make their own aesthetic judgements that might continue after the age of European colonialism. But make sure you read the site mentioned above-it has lots of nice evolutionary psychologically oriented speculation. But just remember, babies are pale. That's the basic track. Related note: See Steve Sailer's articles on blondeness.

Principles of Population Genetics
Genetics of Populations
Molecular Evolution
Quantitative Genetics
Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics
Evolutionary Genetics
Molecular Markers, Natural History, and Evolution
The Genetics of Human Populations
Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits
Epistasis and Evolutionary Process
Evolutionary Human Genetics
Mathematical Models in Biology
Evolutionary Genetics: Case Studies and Concepts
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 1
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 2
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 3
Statistical Methods in Molecular Evolution
The History and Geography of Human Genes
Population Genetics and Microevolutionary Theory
Population Genetics, Molecular Evolution, and the Neutral Theory
Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations
Genetics and Origins of Species
Tempo and Mode in Evolution
Causes of Evolution
The Great Human Diasporas
Bones, Stones and Molecules
Natural Selection and Social Theory
Journey of Man
Mapping Human History
The Seven Daughters of Eve
Evolution for Everyone
Why Sex Matters
Mother Nature
Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language
R.A. Fisher, the Life of a Scientist
Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology
Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics
A Reason for Everything
The Ancestor's Tale
Dragon Bone Hill
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
The Selfish Gene
Adaptation and Natural Selection
Nature via Nurture
The Symbolic Species
The Imitation Factor
The Red Queen
Out of Thin Air
Evolutionary Dynamics
The Origin of Species
The Descent of Man
Age of Abundance
The Darwin Wars
The Evolutionists
The Creationists
Of Moths and Men
The Language Instinct
How We Decide
Predictably Irrational
The Black Swan
Fooled By Randomness
Descartes' Baby
Religion Explained
In Gods We Trust
Darwin's Cathedral
A Theory of Religion
The Meme Machine
Synaptic Self
The Mating Mind
A Separate Creation
The Number Sense
The 10,000 Year Explosion
The Math Gene
Explaining Culture
Origin and Evolution of Cultures
Dawn of Human Culture
The Origins of Virtue
Prehistory of the Mind
The Nurture Assumption
The Moral Animal
Born That Way
No Two Alike
Survival of the Prettiest
The Blank Slate
The g Factor
The Origin Of The Mind
Unto Others
Defenders of the Truth
The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition
Before the Dawn
Behavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic Era
The Essential Difference
Geography of Thought
The Classical World
The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Fall of Rome
History of Rome
How Rome Fell
The Making of a Christian Aristoracy
The Rise of Western Christendom
Keepers of the Keys of Heaven
A History of the Byzantine State and Society
Europe After Rome
The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity
The Barbarian Conversion
A History of Christianity
God's War
Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
The Sacred Chain
Divided by the Faith
The Reformation
Pursuit of Glory
Albion's Seed
From Plato to Nato
China: A New History
China in World History
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Children of the Revolution
When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World
The Great Arab Conquests
After Tamerlane
A History of Iran
The Horse, the Wheel, and Language
A World History
Guns, Germs, and Steel
The Human Web
Plagues and Peoples
A Concise Economic History of the World
Power and Plenty
A Splendid Exchange
Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD
Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations
A Farewell to Alms
The Ascent of Money
The Great Divergence
Clash of Extremes
War and Peace and War
Historical Dynamics
The Age of Lincoln
The Great Upheaval
What Hath God Wrought
Freedom Just Around the Corner
Throes of Democracy
Grand New Party
A Beautiful Math
When Genius Failed
Catholicism and Freedom
American Judaism

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