Shades of Beauty: a Feminist Geography of Skin Lightening

Authors: Meena Pyatt*,
Topics: Feminist Geographies, Ethnicity and Race, Women
Keywords: beauty, globalization, colonialism, feminist geographies
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: Download



Skin lightening has grown to be a multi-billion dollar industry in the world of beauty. In this project, I explore how this practice manifests through globalization and how its prominence in India and South Africa is tied to a colonial past. My poster examines the broad body of work around skin lightening creams both within geography and beyond. In addition to exploring the literature, I plan to further the subject with a visual discourse analysis of advertisements of skin lighteners that reveal how whiteness is upheld and inequalities are perpetuated. Following a feminist geographic lens, I situate skin lighteners as always geopolitical and tied to power and I trace how they are simultaneously embraced, rejected, and resisted. In doing so, I demonstrate what analyses of beauty can offer to the field of Geography.

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