skin coloured

being non-white in a white society

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    Welcome to Skin Coloured, a collaborative, visual exploration of what it is to be non-white in a white culture. Please submit photos to skincoloured [at] googlemail [dot] com.
  • August 2008
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Posted by Raven on August 4, 2008

(Notice that this tanning moisturising cream is being aimed at people with “normal to darker” skin. Notice also the hand the bottle is held in; it’s dark, but it’s a perfectly normal skin colour for someone of north Indian origin.)


25 Responses to “#2”

  1. Leila said

    Infuriated. This photo infuriates me. The very assumption that there’s a default “normal” skin tone…and the disgusting implication that anything outside of that is abnormal. It’s sickening.

  2. Marziah said

    As if having darker skin is not normal? Wha? Does it come in a sickly pale variety, too?

  3. Mara said

    ::laughs:: This is probably one of the few cases where I’m in the same boat! I’m about five stages lighter than what they call “normal” so the one time I tried to use one of these products…well, even though I used one for “light-colored skin”, the results were pathetic.

    Seriously, this is a great idea, and I look forward to seeing all the places where white folk like me don’t even notice our racism.

  4. Blue_Cat said

    Leia sort of right: Normal in the common mind / language equates to average 😛 The average skin tone in the UK probably is something along the pasty (aka melanin-deficient to quote a friend) range. But equating average or most common result to normality does lead to the supposition that the non-average, less-common, is abnormal.

  5. Quiara said

    I look forward to reading more of what you’ve got to say. I’m an extremely pale white girl in the US, but it’s not difficult for me to find makeup, undergarments or anything of the sort that does what it’s meant to do. Thanks for creating this.

  6. Erin said

    Wow, this is gross. “Normal to darker skin”…as if darker skin is not normal. It also opens the door for people to wonder “is my skin normal?” and further push the disgusting notion that only white = beautiful.

  7. naku said

    I knew I wasn’t normal! D:


  8. Truly dreadful. “Normal” and “Darker.” Argh.

  9. sharon said

    Wow. I’m a Canadian of First Nations heritage (in other words, I’m brown), and I didn’t even get what the point to the image was until I read the comments. I’m horrified that I’ve become so desensitized to this kind of thing. D:

  10. Sami said

    … the hell?

    I defy anyone to define a “normal” skin tone, even for white people. White people are crazy variable, even depending on the time of year etc, and “pasty” seems pretty damn common.

    Why not just have a pictorial representation of colour range? I think of my own skin colour as “normal” because it’s normal FOR ME, but at the same time, if one of my friends had skin this colour, it would be a little problematic, because for them, it would be all wrong.


  11. Chi said

    This product also comes in a ‘normal to fair skin’ variety. So apparently the only people who are ‘normal’ are those who have a light tan already? Seriously, they could have found a better way to describe skin tones. 😦

    I’m looking forward to the contents of this blog. It’s a brilliant idea to call attention to these things.

  12. Shebazz said

    Once again the idiots have got it wrong what exactly do they mean by normal to darker skin??? Darker skin is normal is the real world that i live in and if in fact is very beautiful…. My ? is if you have darker skin why would want to use this rubbish??? moreso the lady Asian lady they duped into posing in this picture is of a brown lighter skin, why did they not put pictures that reflect their message??? Ie different skin shades… Who did they seek advice from??? or is it the usual statau Quo White sheeps in dark clothing with their perception of what constitutes ‘beautiful’.

  13. skincoloured said


    No one was duped into posing with the picture. The hand belongs to one of the people running this blog and the photo was taken by the other one – it’s not a marketing or commercial image. We consider our skin to be perfectly normal for us!

  14. Calico said

    Nice blog, looking forward to seeing more!

    It reminds me of this story from a few years back where a Black woman was told that the NHS only did White prosthetics.

  15. Sheenagh said

    That is just sickening. Can you imagine how stupid they’d sound if they did something similar with hair dye? Chestnut hair dye, for ‘normal to dark hair’, blonde dye for ‘normal to light-coloured hair’. [I only suggest this as an example because a lot white people, myself included, find it all too easy to fall into thinking we’re normal, or default, and everyone else is abnormal – even though we would recoil in horror from expressing it in those terms.]

    I’ve just been trying to find an address to send a complaint to, but without much luck.

  16. Plymouth said

    What I’ve never understood is why people are so hung up over being normal. I’ve NEVER felt normal and I’ve never WANTED to be normal. Normal really DOES just mean average. I’m ABOVE average!! Except when I’m below average. I am exceedingly rarely actually average. Normal, to me, means BORING.

  17. Coleen said

    What bothers me – as well as the picture – is how people in the limelight never seem to complain about things like this … surely POC actresses find problems onset?

    It makes me love Iman (David Bowie’s wife) more because she went and did something about it:

  18. Joanne said

    Okay, nobody is sure exactly what shade normal is, and then we come to – darker. How much darker than the normal that they didn’t bother to define in the first place is this stuff useful for? Definitly a pig in a poke purchase here. A virtuoso display of non-comunication.

  19. Kristie said

    Heh, I actually passed by a similar product, but also noted that it came in “normal to fair skin” as well. Which makes me think that it isn’t so much racist as it is stupid and careless labeling; most white people (all-white people, anyway) definitely fall into the “fair” category, especially in the UK, so they wouldn’t be considered “normal” to this product either. I think whoever wrote the labels and did the adverts for these bottles was thinking normal was synonymous with medium, the definition of which is arguable in itself but probably more correct to what they were trying to say.

  20. Will said


    I’ve been in several theatrical productions where there was absolutely no way the makeup provided would be suitable for the skintones of all the actors, and it was shocking that people would spend money on literally dozens of shades and have all but three be for white people. I imagine once you get up to celebrity level, you’re more likely to have whatever you want at your fingertips and that includes better makeup variety, but yeah, lower down can be a nightmare. That’s awesome that Iman’s come out with some alternatives, though.

  21. Hannah said

    Plymouth: I think the issue is less that we don’t want ourselves to be defined as normal than that (and I say this as a very pale white girl) that white is figured as normal and every other colour is abnormal, with all the negative connotations that that comes with. Normal is prized in the media, even if it isn’t in our everyday lives. We might think of ourselves as more than normal, and value that, but the world around us really does define normal as white.

  22. johanna said

    Plymouth — it’s one fucking thing to be able to choose a renegade “screw the norm, I’m DIFFERENT!” attitude. Quite another when you are not even allowed to consider the option of being normal in the first place.

  23. Jen said

    I would have loved to see you walk up to the salesperson and ask, “I’m interested in buying this product, but how do I know if my skin qualifies as normal?”

  24. Laura said

    …followed a link here, today.

    Normal? NORMAL?

    I. just. wtf.

  25. […] at the skin coloured blog – “normal to darker skin” [via Sociological Images] (A photo of a bottle of “body […]

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