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There’s Bleaching and there’s Tanning! Raven Symone, Iyanla Vanzant & More Actresses Reveal they had to Make themselves Darker for Some Roles



raven-1For the most part about last year the world could not understand why it was necessary for a lot of Hollywood stars to make themselves lighter just to get more recognition, but a short documentary now shows that some actresses also had to make their skin look darker to get particular roles.

One of such actresses is Raven Symone, who revealed that she had to go to a tanning room three times a week just to get herself ready for her breakthrough show, ‘That’s so Raven’.

The documentary, called ‘Lighter Girls’ is a follow-up to the 2011 critically acclaimed broadcasted documentary “Dark Girls.” The film project, directed by famed veteran director and actor Bill Duke, will reportedly offer a broader perspective on the subject of colorism in the Black community, along with all of its stereotypes and myths.

Hollywood faces such as actress Amber Rose, news woman Soledad O’Brien, ’70s high-fashion model Pat Cleveland, comedienne Kim Whitley, and legendary actress Diahann Carroll will also offer an introspective look on life as light-skinned Black women.

The Light Girls movie will also talk about the controversial topic of skin bleaching, and discuss how Hollywood may often go with darker-skinned actresses instead of lighter-skinned actresses to prove that they aren’t biased toward light girls.

“Light Girls” will air on Monday, January 19th at 9:00 pm on the OWN Network.

Watch the trailer below:


  1. Author Unknown

    January 17, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Nigerians again trying to make a diaspora black problem their issue. The light skin vs. dark skin issue stems from slavery in the Americas. Even in America, it’s not as big an issue as it’s made to appear. There are more pressing problems facing blacks worldwide, like sickle cell anaemia and hypertension.

    • Teris

      January 17, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      You’re kidding, right?
      TBH, I did not stream the vids but pls don’t say this is an imported problem. It is at least as real as a kid having suicidal leanings due to weight issues.

      You may wish to relegate it to “self-inflicted” category when compared to say regions suffering a drought or a typhoon (hunger, terrorism, racism are man-made)…but for a lot of (young) girls, skin shade, beauty and the accompanying valuation matters. (I’m sure u didn’t miss the* issue. Also note that skin before beauty – cos I’ve seen guys trip over buttery skin even tho d babe wo-wo).

      And, feminism on the rise or not, a female is still assessed primarily for her looks and her “obedience index”.

      PS: even Peoples that are “oyinbo-yellow” to us (e.g. Arabs) still differentiate the “fair, comely maidens” from their darker, olive skinned sisters.

    • EllesarisEllendil

      January 17, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      “It is at least as real as a kid having suicidal leanings due to weight issues.” Percentage of Nigerians that commit suicide based on weight issues.
      “even Peoples that are “oyinbo-yellow” to us (e.g. Arabs) still differentiate the “fair, comely maidens” from their darker, olive skinned sisters”
      A. Aren’t olives green??
      B. Doesn’t bringing Arabs into this prove Author Unknown’s point about this being a diaspora issue??
      C. There’re dark Arabs???

    • nene

      January 17, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      gbam. it’s not really a big issue in nigeria

    • honey suckle

      January 17, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      I admit that the video is American and the people featured describe the problem of colourism as it pertains to them. However, the problem is not solely a “diaspora problem”, it pertains to Nigerians and Africans to.

      In Africa, Light skin is shoved in our faces by the media and cosmetic industries in ways that suggests that light skin equals superiority or privilege and not as a skin tone among the many shades of black, none better than the other.

      The video particularly applies to us in the sense that we are quick to “verbally attack/accuse” certain people of bleaching when they appear lighter that we think they actually are or should be.

      In America more than Africa, Afrocentrism is blooming and people have a new appreciation for all things African and ethnic, more times than not, light skin is not related to their cause because it is a reminder to them of the white superiority and “slave masters” hence the ladies in the videos sentiments.

      NB: I am simply # team self love,
      whatever tone we find yourself (naturally or choosen :P)

    • lumdy

      January 17, 2015 at 9:15 pm


    • lala

      January 17, 2015 at 9:32 pm

      You are wrong it is a big problem. I graduated from an all black university and that issue was prevalent between dark and light skin babes. They had names for each group and they picked friendship based on that .Sorority pledging in aka and delta was based mostly on accepting more light skin than .dark skn. It was no secret.

    • Surely

      January 18, 2015 at 3:47 am

      This is the same crazy soul who called a woman a whore in the other comment section because she said if men can have premarital sex, why can’t women.
      Safe to say Author Unknown is dumb as rocks.

    • Author Uknown

      January 18, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Let me guess. You wish you were a light-skinned virgin, but are very far from that?

    • Tee

      January 18, 2015 at 3:53 am

      It is often talked about here in the States.

    • ami

      January 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      @ EllesarisEllendil to answer your first question Olive is also a skin completion, most people of Mediterranean origin are referred to has been of olive skin completion.

      To the second question, may be diaspora is not the right word but colourism is a global issue. A huge population of Asian’s not just Arabs bleach.

      To answer your last question, yes there are dark ( black) Arabs.

  2. Don Ocso

    January 17, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Their own na film tricks.

  3. lepa

    January 17, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    The lies we tell ourselves sometimes baffles me. What do you mean its not an issue in Nigeria?? Then why do we have so many Nigerians bleaching? When I was younger I only knew of one woman that bleached nowadays everyone n their mama is doing it. Where do we think it comes from? Its the same dark vs light issue at the root of it all. Not saying its a national epidemic but its still something that needs to be addressed. I swear I look on IG and it seems there are no more dark skinned girls in Nigeria, or at least there are more light skinned girls than dark skin. Again its not an epidemic but an issue nonetheless

    • BlueEyed

      January 18, 2015 at 6:38 am

      Then you definitely don’t get the point of this documentary, there are two different contexts here 1. Skin bleaching 2. Light skin vs dark skin segregation in the black community. The former is definitely a Nigerian and African problem, while the latter is more an American problem.


    January 17, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    This is a worldwide black issue. The white man used the brown paper bag test to determine who was worthy to be an “inside house” slave. The lighter ones where made to work inside while the darker ones where relegated to the cotton fields. Unfortunately the subliminal messages over time that lighter skin is superior has become a part of our community that is going no where.

    • Author Unknown

      January 18, 2015 at 6:29 am

      See why I say Nigerians need to stay away from stuff that is not their business. Which white man used the brown paper bag to determine house from field slaves? The brown paper bag test, as far as I know, was used by blacks to determine who got into colleges and universities. Historically black colleges like Morehouse, Spelman etc. House slaves were often the mixed race illegitimate kids of the white master. I agree with your last sentence however.

    • lupi

      January 18, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      You are wrong though. Check your textbooks again.

  5. Pat

    January 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Raven is looking pale.

    • lupi

      January 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      Thats the point. When light girls are called terms like ‘pale’ they are pressured to tan.

    • Pat

      January 20, 2015 at 2:19 am

      nah its the hair color. It doesn’t suit everyone

  6. mx

    January 17, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    many of our people particularly our women don’t seem to know that bleaching goes beyond skin,it is a sub conscious ruminant of slavery.they told u been dark is evil u believed now u have self hate but u call it skin toning..d west defined beauty for our women now they r lost,peeling there skin all day to fit into white colourism.ask your self y do women keep bleaching even when there skin is light?because when they look at d mirror they still dont feel beautifull.

  7. Latifa

    January 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    Thank you Bellanaija for this i was about to send you the link when i saw this. I remember growing up as a kid, i was told by my peers that i wasnt beautiful i was only fair, and if i were dark skin i would be even be uglier. I was called names like Afin, white witch etc. i have been told my colour is cheap and can be bought……. It took he grace of God to make me appreciate my skin colour. We are all black we just have different shades.

  8. Vii

    January 18, 2015 at 8:16 am

    But Amber Rose is white…..

    • Anon

      January 18, 2015 at 10:55 am


    • lupi

      January 18, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      She’s not. She’s mixed ad her mother is from Cape Verde which is in West Africa (ECOWAS).

    • Aanu

      January 18, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      Amber Rose is not completely white. She’s mixed.

  9. CoconutPineapple

    January 18, 2015 at 9:12 am

    I swear some people don’t ever READ before they comment,
    The issue of Light-skinned women “tanning” to be more accepted in the community is NOT a big problem in Nigeria. The reverse is.

    I am fair, my sister is light skinned, growing up, she was made to feel very special. In Nigeria when I was a teenager, the half-caste girls were treated like demi-gods. I don’t remember them being bullied, if anything else everyone wanted to be their friend.

    In Nigeria, #teamLightskinned are revered!

    P.S the women in this documentary are beautiful

  10. Yayi Boni

    January 19, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Skin color, hair texture have never been my issue!! Oh God I am thankful you’ve created me black. and I am proud of it.

  11. SLY

    February 10, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    I cant believe America is having that problem. In SA we are a race on our own. We are not black and we are not white. We are coloured and proud of it… we dont fit in. In the apartheid years we were tooo black and now we tooo white. But I have to admit we are a damn beautiful race that really dont need to fit in anywhere anyway. (Big Smiley)

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