Colorism in Media | Teen Ink

Colorism in Media

March 8, 2023
By kproujansky BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
kproujansky BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Colorism in Media


Fenty beauty’s 50 Shades of foundation chart (@FentyBeauty) 

You have probably seen magazines in your local drugstore, nail, or hair salon. The beauty magazine, Allure, has sold millions of magazines. Yet, there is a significantly smaller number of deep skin tone representations in the photos that go along with the articles. The amount of both racism and colorism is drastic. Colorism is defined as “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.” (Oxford Languages) Unfortunately, most of it happens without the perpetrator being aware of it. 

Colorism is everywhere whether we see it or not. Although it might not always be intentional, it definitely can be. The author of the article “Fighting the ‘coded gaze’ ” explained that the software she was using had a challenging time detecting her face until she put on a white mask. (Buolamwini) Some Artificial Intelligence technology is biased and discriminatory towards people with darker skin if it is not perfected before the public begins to use it. I chose to collect data from Allure because I felt that compared to most of the other beauty/fashion magazines, Allure had a lot of diversity. To collect the data, I chose 6 images that went along with the articles (most images had multiple people). Then, I took 3 points from each model’s face (cheek, forehead, and chin) in an RGB website that gave us their RGB values for each point and put them all into clusters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - light, light-medium, medium, medium-deep, deep) in a bar graph based on the values. : Numerical data in Allure, created by Kate Proujansky

This is a bar graph of the different skin tone clusters in Allure magazine. There is barely any deep skin tone representation while the majority of representation is in lighter skin tones. Because the bulk of the representation is in light and medium skin tones, it tells me that there is most likely discrimination against medium-deep and deep skinned models in this magazine. 

My takeaway from this data is that in articles, there is a significantly smaller number of deep skin tone representation than there is light skin tone representation. As you can see in the bar graph, light, light-medium, and medium skin tones are the most represented in articles, while medium-deep and deep were the least represented. Light and medium each had 11 points that fit into their cluster while deep had only 3 points. 

There are many ways that this data collection could have been biased. I chose the images I wanted to use, so I might have subconsciously skipped over ones that did not fit into my original hypothesis. I also cannot control the lighting of the photo which might have had glares or shadows that could make someone look lighter or darker than they actually are.









Works Cited:

@FentyBeauty. "50 Shades of Foundation." Instagram, 12 September 2017,
Allure, 01 October 2021, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.
Buolamwini, Joy. “Fighting the ‘Coded Gaze.’” Ford Foundation, Ford Foundation, 26 June 2018, 
“Oxford Languages and Google - English.” Oxford Languages,  

Pre-writing questions- DNITUb858T1YTUZGflsTcrAQ/edit 

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