Light Girls documentary perpetuates colorism instead of challenging it
“I think the impact that colorism has on young girls—light girls and dark girls—leave scars on the soul that follow them well into womanhood,” said author Iyanla Vanzant at the beginning of Light Girls.
Light Girls is the sequel to Bill Duke’s 2011 documentary Dark Girls. Both films examine colorism, or discrimination based on skin color, with communities of color.
Whereas Dark Girls explores colorism and the perceptions darker-skinned woman faced, Light Girls takes an in-depth look at the trials and tribulations that light-skinned women of color face not only in the United States, but around the world. Filmmakers interviewed black women like actresses Erica Hubbard, Raven Symone, journalist Soledad O’Brien, and other well-known black women who happen to have light complexions.
The film was not well-perceived, receiving only one nomination for an Image Award. Many people critiqued the film on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook with users criticizing how both women with dark and light skin were misrepresented.
I personally believe that the documentary was a missed opportunity to start a discuss ion about colorism in the black community, especially because it is a topic that is frequently not acknowledged.
Many of the women in the film reinforced the stereotype that black women with darker complexions are jealous and angry at women who are lighter than they are because they are perceived as being prettier were while ignoring the privileges that they uphold for having light skin.
Another issue I had with the film is that it failed to state what qualities someone to be “light skinned,” which is something I believe would be helpful for those who are not aware of the hierarchy.
Although I did not love the film, I enjoyed the segment of the film where they featured the global epidemic of skin bleaching, thus showing the viewer that colorism is not just a black American issue.
I also enjoyed how the film showed how colorism plays a part in people’s relationships by showing men discussing their preference for women with lighter complexions.
Personally, I would not recommend this movie to anyone because in many ways, the film felt more harmful than helpful. I believe the film perpetuated the issue of colorism, rather than solving it.
For those interested in the issue of colorism I would recommend the film Skinned by LisaRaye McCoy and Avery O. William or the film Dark Girls, by Bill Duke.