Fair or Not? The Snow White Complex


I love this documentary from filmmaker M. Hansa M. about how Eurocentric standards of beauty have become prominent across the globe, and how those beauty standards promote and exacerbate sexism and racism. In just eleven minutes, “Fair or Not?” addresses the many connections between racism, sexism, colonialism and exoticism, painting a clear and troubling picture of the issues facing all women, but especially women of color, in westernized cultures.

The film features young women who have found themselves at the center of racist, sexist expectations of beauty, and discusses how the media reinforces internalized racism and sexism, leading to low self-esteem. In one featured discussion, a young woman sums up her struggles as such: “‘Exotic’ means from a faraway place, somewhere unfamiliar. If we’re exotic to ourselves, then whose voices are we speaking from?”

This film is short, poignant, and incredibly important. Please do yourself a favor by watching and sharing.



2 thoughts on “Fair or Not? The Snow White Complex

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  1. I personally feel as though this film should have gone deeper. The examination of class demarcation based on skin color was briefly touched upon, but it is certainly why the issue is still pertinent to this day. If any of you are interested in taking a good, long look at why and how this light/dark differential is so pervasive, one only needs to look at the practice of “miscegenation” during the age of slavery in the United States. In the narrative Clotel, the reader can clearly witness how the mulatto women are sold for a higher price. The United States, and to a greater extent the Spanish conquistadores, understood that inhibiting social mobility by the implementation of caste systems based on skin color was an effective means of imposing control. If anyone stands in disagreement regarding caste, go do some research on quadroons, octoroons, and mulattoes. As long as contemporary culture continues to have a preference for lighter (fairer) skin, those that are unwillingly indoctrinated into this mode of thinking will be inadvertently reinforcing colonial perspectives. Race is a social construction used to oppress those “below” the white stratum of control. Break the ideological fetters of the modern media machine and free your minds, in doing so you free your friends.

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