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Light Skin Preference

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Subjects identified the left-hand image as a woman and the right-hand one as a man. Yet the two images differ only in skin tone. Study by Richard Russell, Sinha Laboratory for Vision Research, MIT.   Skin color differs by sex: women are fairer and men browner and ruddier. Women also exhibit a greater contrast in... Read More
Infant stump-tailed macaque (source). Other photos showing adults and infants (courtesy of Monte M. Taylor and Christopher H. Taylor). Why do humans have so little body hair? This question is addressed by Sandel (2013) in his comparative review of hair density in 23 primates and 29 nonprimate mammals. There seems to have been a long-term... Read More
Beyoncé Knowles, 2012. Is skin bleaching consistent with indigenous African values? (source) A Zambian-born sociologist visited his home village with his white American wife and two of their children. Having lost his way, he asked an elderly lady for directions. She gladly told him: But then she said, addressing his boys in the car, in... Read More
The female torso visibly reddens towards the end of the menstrual cycle. Do men unconsciously pick up on this visual cue? (Figure from Edwards and Duntley, 1949) Women vary in skin color over the menstrual cycle. From mid-cycle on, their skin steadily reddens because of an increase in blood flow that peaks in the day... Read More
Austronesian woman (Roekiah Soeara, 1942, Indonesian actress - source). Austronesian and Papuan peoples intermixed in coastal Papua-New Guinea and on the islands to the east. This intermixture seems to have been mainly due to Austronesian women joining polygynous Papuan households. Did this happen through peaceful exchange (brides for land?) or through raiding and kidnapping? In... Read More
A new arrival (painting by Giuilo Rosati - source). The privilege of white skin … Earlier this year, fashion model Cameron Russell condemned the unbearable whiteness of her industry: […] I won a genetic lottery, and I am a recipient of a legacy. For the past few centuries, we have defined beauty not just as... Read More
Gender asymmetry in preferences for male and female faces (Lewis, 2012) “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This proverb is true in the sense that beauty is a mental judgment—an output of different algorithms within the human brain. Some of these algorithms have been formed by personal experience, but others are hardwired to... Read More
Averaged faces of 22 women and 22 men (White American subjects with no makeup). Female faces are lighter-skinned than male faces, while showing more contrast between facial skin and lips/eyes (see research by Richard Russell). Les Presses de l’Université Laval has just published my book Femmes claires, hommes foncés. Les racines oubliées du colorisme. An... Read More
Les Presses de l’Université Laval viennent de publier mon oeuvre Femmes claires, hommes foncés. Les racines oubliées du colorisme. Dans un vieux manuscrit chrétien, on raconte l’histoire d’un homme qui s’est retiré dans un monastère avec son tout jeune fils. Ce dernier, devenu adolescent, a commencé à voir dans ses rêves des êtres d’apparence étrange.... Read More
These are the two dolls I used to measure skin-color preferences in preschool children. As you can see, the difference in color is barely visible—both would be considered “white.”This point bears repeating. It is debatable whether racial attitudes exist among toddlers if their social environment is almost 100% French Canadian. But the question is academic:... Read More
Y-axis: Mean attractiveness rating X-axis: Black faces, Mixed-Race faces, White faces Top curve – ratings by female students Bottom curve – ratings by male students (Lewis, 2010) This study has attracted much notice in the media and on the Internet. When photos of black, white, and mixed-race faces were shown to twenty white psychology students... Read More
Kenneth Clark supervising a doll test When asked who the smart child is, she points to a light-skinned doll. When asked who the mean child is she points to a dark-skinned doll. She says a white child is good because "I think she looks like me", and says the black child is ugly because "she's... Read More
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