BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

How important is your online image?

12:25 UK time, Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A skin lightening application for Facebook in India will allow users to make their faces lighter in their profile pictures. How important are these online images?

The application is part of a campaign by skincare company Vaseline to promote its range of skin-lightening creams for men.

Skin lightening creams for women have been on the market for 27 years, but only recently have the creams been marketed for men, with more than half a dozen foreign brands for sale in the region.

In 2009, a poll of nearly 12,000 people by online dating site Shaadi.com claimed that skin tone was considered to be one of the most important characteristics when choosing a partner in certain northern Indian states.

Would you use this application? Should social network users be encouraged to lighten their profile pictures? Is there too much pressure on people to alter their skin colour?

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Why use an application to change your image, seriously you might aswell google a picture of someone you wished you looked like and stuck that on your profile. After doing that you still have to remember those that you meet after changing the image will be surprised when the 6foot blue eyed blonde guy with a six pack turned out in person to be a 5'2 dark haired skinny person.
    As for skin lightening creams, nothing new people have always been shallow and vacuous. There is no more pressure to change skin colour than there is to change hair style or wardrobe every season.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't care one jot about my appearance online, I'm more interested in the ideas that I have to share.

    And then, and then..

    Someone looked at my picture (I'm running for ENnies judge again this year) and posted, "Megan you have the best hair of all time!" and it really made my day :)

    Dunno if she'll vote for me, though.

  • Comment number 4.

    Another debate going nowhere fast - anyone who falls for a profile photo without double-checking is asking to be let down... Remember the adage "if you play with fire, etc..." well, if you play with IT, you'll get cramp in your fingers!

  • Comment number 5.

    How important is your image?
    I think it's sad that the advertising industry has been so succesful that it dictates how people should look, including weight, straight or curly hair, whiteness of teeth, and skin colour.
    The skin lightening application might be dangerous; most often we don't know side effects for quite a while. Is image so important that somone would sacrifice health for lighter skin?
    How on earth have we humans gotten ourselves into the position that companies like Vaseline can sell a product - not for medical reasons - but for aesthetic reasons only.
    I was taken-aback by the poll numbers: 12,000 people claimed that skin tone was considered to be one of the most important characteristics when choosing a partner in certain northern Indian states. Skin tone?
    Not character, wisdom, loving compassion...?
    Has the world become so image-oriented, so capitvated by the "beautiful" people"? Perhaps this is why the divorce rate, even domestic violence statistics are escalating. You cannot relate to an image; you should not marry an image.
    There is too much pressure on people to alter themselves, including skin colour. Ever seen someone get ready for a date - the hair, the make-up, the insecurity in who they really are?
    Who has done this to us, and how do we undo it?

  • Comment number 6.

    I suppose it depends if your'e ever going to meet any of these online friends in the real world.

    If you do, then they are going to suss your vanity pretty much instantly, which could be more embarassing than he unaltered photo...

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    Its kind of ironic

    In the west many white people strive to make their skin darker.

    Whilst in India and elsewhere it seems many dark skinned people wish to go lighter.

    I'd say the solution is pretty obvious-

    A vigorous programme of inter-breeding.

    At least our kids may then be happy with the way they are born.

  • Comment number 9.

    I am not on fakebook anyway.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm sorry to say, but I find it sad/pathetic. On my FB profile picture, there is now a shot of my first tattoo - an elephant, before that it was me wearing a jester hat and the one before that it was of me sitting at my desk. At the end of the day, I really don't think my FB family cares what my picture is - they know what I look like, but most importantly, they know how/who I am.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why should I be concerned about my image to people I don't know? If they already know me off line then the real me is already known to them. Its not as if I'm selling anything to image conscious customers.

    If people want to represent themselves as something they are not then that is their business. To people on the receiving end of a false images all I would say is, 'Don't go by what people look like or by what they say. Go by what they do.'

  • Comment number 12.

    How stupid can you be to even think that using an online skin lightener will change who you are. This only goes to show that Facebook do not have the best interests of people at heart (as evidenced by the fact that they cannot even put a panic button on their front page for children but rather come out with some poor excuse about downloading an application) yet, can put a 'skin lightening' app on for people who have low self esteem.
    The people who use it will soon learn that you can pretend to be whatever and whoever you want to be but, in real life it wont change a thing except make you look really foolish.

  • Comment number 13.

    If you are the manufacturer of a skin lightening/darkening whatever cream - I'm sure you can persuade a lot of people that their image online is incredibly important.

    What happens when it is discovered that the very important characteristic you are supposed to possess, you actually don't?

    We do love our superficial judgments, don't we?

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    BluesBerry wrote:
    I think it's sad that the advertising industry has been so succesful that it dictates how people should look, including weight, straight or curly hair, whiteness of teeth, and skin colour.


    While I agree with your general point I don't think the blame lies entirely with the advertising industry.
    I've been visiting India since the 1950s and Indian women have been trying to find ways to make their skin lighter since long before I started going there, even in parts of India where there was very little or no advertising.

    Peer pressure and fashion have been driving issues like this for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

    If this was the spread of such fashion items as high heels or corsets then I doubt it would get anywhere near the amount of press coverage and moral outrage that this has, even though the long term damage to your health can be just as bad, if not worse, than trying to change your skin colour with these creams.
    It's socially acceptable for people to try to look taller or slimmer than they actually are and no-one ever considers this to be "bad" even though your height and body shape is just as much a part of your individual identity as your skin colour.

  • Comment number 16.

    I do not use these sites as I think they are insecure and dangerous.

  • Comment number 17.

    " do not use these sites as I think they are insecure and dangerous."

    Nobody is obliged to disclose any more information on Facebook than they want to. When you sign up, you don't even have to use your real name, you don't need to state a physical address, and you can use one of the many free anonymous e-mail addresses with it.

    So to say you don't use them "because they're insecure and dangerous) [unsecure, surely?] is ridiculous! It's a bit like saying "I don't believe in living in a house because if I go out and leave my front door open, people could get in!"

  • Comment number 18.

    krokodil wrote: I am not on fakebook anyway.

    If you actually read the question, that's not what's being discussed.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    How important is your online image?

    Changing image shows unrealistic and false photos.
    Someone can change a lot in to the image.
    Then will you trust Facebook ? or online sites???


  • Comment number 21.

    I don't mind if people want to appear lighter, after all, there are millions of people who try to be darker every year in the summer time!

    However, what I don't understand is why would you want to do that with an electronic image? Once you meet people in person they will realise that you are darker than in your pictures.

    I only allow my friends to see pictures of me so if I suddenly appeared very light or very dark I'm sure they'd ask me about it!

    @ No.12 Susan Du Becker, who wrote:

    How stupid can you be to even think that using an online skin lightener will change who you are. This only goes to show that Facebook do not have the best interests of people at heart (as evidenced by the fact that they cannot even put a panic button on their front page for children but rather come out with some poor excuse about downloading an application) yet, can put a 'skin lightening' app on for people who have low self esteem....

    Susan, the application was created by Vaseline for facebook. Not by facebook for its users.

    As for the panic button for children, let's discuss this in six months time when some statistics are out how many pedophiles have been reported and convicted and how many pranksters have actually clicked the button.

    So people who want to change their appearance (skin) have low self esteem? Tell me, do you go out in the summer to tan yourself?

  • Comment number 22.

    9. At 1:46pm on 14 Jul 2010, krokodil wrote:

    I am not on fakebook anyway.

    I am on fakebook

    What you think of those who use it ??

  • Comment number 23.

    Can Vaseline manufacture a personality improving cream? I know some people who could benefit from some.

  • Comment number 24.

    "A skin lightening application for Facebook in India will allow users to make their faces lighter in their profile pictures. How important are these online images?"

    Beauty is skin deep and these images are probably important to the shallow.

    A word of caution though - if you feel the need to lighten your profile image, and the person interested in you places emphasis on the superficiality of skin tone or colour, then you're both in need serious help and counselling.

    And one of you is going to be in for shock based on physical appearence, while the other is going to be shocked by a superficial personality.

  • Comment number 25.

    Luskentyre i can read.

  • Comment number 26.

    I don't know why most people are calling improving your online image sad/pathetic. I happens in the UK constantly, I know lots of people who airbrush there facebook pictures to make thereselves look better (dont get me wrong I'm not one of them as I couldn't care less)

    If it makes them feel better about themselves and happy then why not?

  • Comment number 27.

    In times of old the tailor maketh men,
    And thus are we empowered yet again,
    To quite distort how others see our face,
    But think what questions this doth bring of race?

    For whom doth they pretend beneath disquise?
    For whom doth they create themselves revised?
    For novelty these applications strive,
    But keepeth hiddden prejudice alive.

  • Comment number 28.

    Very important.

    Take me, for example.

    I am a professional dancer, and also a top doctor.

    I look superwicked in my leathers, or my shortshorts. Maybe just a vest and wellies (no pants). Also, in me doctorclobber, such as a white coat, a stethoscope, whatever and this and that.

    Whatever. You get the picture.

    In my line of work, image is everything.

    That is how come I am so fit.

    Look I can't stand around here gassing all day. Got some sexy dancing and also some top doctoring to do.

    Recognise.

    The Rammager

  • Comment number 29.

    Khalik its up to them. I just doubt anybody would really be interested in me, as i am not interested in others. Its all a bit fake...453 friends etc...yeah right!

  • Comment number 30.

    Extraordinary - really!! Light skinned, light eyed people have for many decades now been characterized by darker ethnics as 'devils' 'oppressors' 'exploiters' and 'plunderers'. Why on earth would *anyone* want to look like us??? Makes no sense to me.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hmm ......... let me see? I'll spend all kinds of moola to get a lovely tan, to then go for a skin lightening treatment?

    Besides, lightening never strikes twice, in the same spot! ;-]

  • Comment number 32.

    I think some of the posters here are looking at this from the wrong angle.

    "How stupid can you be to even think that using an online skin lightener will change who you are." (Susan du Becker)

    There's an attitude here that people who lighten their skin do so because they want to make themselves more beautiful or whatnot. And this may be indirectly the case.

    However, it might be more accurate to say that these people want to appear lighter to change how others perceive them. Maybe some people will respect the words or ideas of a white person more than they will of a dark Indian. Is that the fault of the dark-skinned individual? Is it wrong for him or her to want lighter skin if that will get him or her taken more seriously?

    In this regard, people who try to lighten their skin, or change their race--in real life or online--may just be a modern day version of female writers in the past who used male pseudonyms because they felt that would be the only way they'd get published and taken seriously.

  • Comment number 33.

    I really like your poem, Elizabethan. Far better poetry than I'd be able to put out, that's for sure! :-D

  • Comment number 34.

    I have no respect for people who tamper with their skin colour, from light to darker or dark to lighter: it is a personality disorder i.e. feeling inadequate because one cannot help being oneself.

  • Comment number 35.

    I used to work alongside a young Asian woman who had some very penetrating views on many subjects. I always remember her being critical of white people who objected to Asian immigrants and then spent a fortune on tanning gear so they could look exactly like - Asian immigrants! I agreed with her, but until now I had no idea that Asians were equally concerned to alter their physical appearance to make them more closely resemble us. Funny old world!

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    I generally try to avoid uploading images of myself onto the internet. It's not because I don't like the way I look; it's to reduce the chance of becoming a meme!

  • Comment number 38.

    Get a life - facebook is and always will be a childish medium for the narrow minded. Sorry to be so judgemental but having five grandchildren addicted to this way of keeping in touch I have strong opinions.

    Believe it or not I do have a Facebook account - it is the only way I can keep up with what is going on in my own family. What a sorry state of affairs.

  • Comment number 39.

    This is a vane attempt for Idians to be accepted by a generally (albiet subconcious!) racist West.

    If it works then good for them!!

  • Comment number 40.

    I think its stupid and i agree with the comment get a picture from google of sum1 u want to luk like .. its just like saying you dont like the way you look cuz of ur skin colour.. all people are equal and should be proud regardless of their colour so bringing this application into Facebook is just stupid

  • Comment number 41.

    Funny isn't it? If I posted a picture of myself 'blacked up' I'd fully expect Facebook or whoever to take it down on the grounds of racism.

  • Comment number 42.

    I want my image to appear like David Cameron please.

  • Comment number 43.

    26. At 4:17pm on 14 Jul 2010, Jason_Overthinker wrote:
    I don't know why most people are calling improving your online image sad/pathetic. I happens in the UK constantly, I know lots of people who airbrush there facebook pictures to make thereselves look better (dont get me wrong I'm not one of them as I couldn't care less)

    If it makes them feel better about themselves and happy then why not?

    I fail to see how creating a fake persona would improve a persons self-esteem surely by the very act of creating a fake persona they are degradating their own self worth.

  • Comment number 44.

    There is a privacy reference , where you can make changes in facebook any one who you dont wanna see or add you as a friend, if someone is saying got many unwanted friends. I think its the users fault.

    But if we use in proper way whether it's facebook or other social networks, i don't think there is anything wrong. We can have only our genuine friends and real friends. also they are very useful to communicate with friends.

    29. At 4:28pm on 14 Jul 2010, krokodil wrote:

    Khalik its up to them. I just doubt anybody would really be interested in me, as i am not interested in others. Its all a bit fake...453 friends etc...yeah right!

    Complain about this comment

  • Comment number 45.

    I am no fan of Facebook but there were vain, shallow and/or self-deluded people around long before the social network came along, that thought lighter skin shade would translate into some kind of social advantage.

    Besides if it mattered that much they could learn photoshop if it's only for a stupid online picture and not risk damaging their health.

  • Comment number 46.

    "... will allow users to make their faces lighter in their profile pictures. How important are these online images?

    Would you use this application? Should social network users be encouraged to lighten their profile pictures? Is there too much pressure on people to alter their skin colour?" -BBC

    BBC has now asked a mouthful of a question, frankly, but let me attempt a response, in an abbreviated form.

    For instance, the Internet is global, or nearly so. Like a moth to a flame, perhaps money could be attractive, and could effectively represent power and success. The English language has become a global phenomenon, or nearly so, and among other things has become synonymous with the acquisition of money, or power and success. At a glance around the world, moreover, it appears that the majority of native English speakers could have a lighter color of skin, and, if a lighter color of skin could somehow be associated with the acquisition of power and success, then perhaps it could stand to reason that those of a darker color of skin could wish to emulate a lighter color of skin in an effort to help acquire such power and success.

    Looking at it another way, suppose one of the world's continents could be fabulously wealthy, and that the population of that continent could speak a unique language, yet further suppose that all of the population of that continent could have a uniquely green color of skin. Now, were the Internet global, were that unique language ubiquitous on the Internet, and were that uniquely green color of skin associated with power and success, then could individual faces on the Internet adopt a similar green color?

  • Comment number 47.

    Yet another subject by the HYS team that is a waste of space!
    get back to the real World and stop dumbing down this site!!

  • Comment number 48.

    You are who you are. If you try to change yourself into something you're not or something you feel will make you more socially acceptable to others, you're living a lie and you'll never be happy. I am who I am, if people want to be my friend then they take me as I am rather than someone I want them to think I am. Honesty is always the best option.

  • Comment number 49.

    I knew a girl who put on a snout in a size of trunk on her smily face, and you can't imagine how many men she attracted.

  • Comment number 50.

    To hell with these corporations who prey on peoples insecurities about their appearances.

  • Comment number 51.

    A fastest mind in a fast moving Car,
    Matched the time to see a Lover.
    Asking each other why so late,
    Lost at mirror as you me Fate.

    There is no other choice in a full blossomed love, except looking brighter than others. O HONEY! I CAN BEAT ANY CROWD, JUST GIVE ME SOME NEWSTUFF THAT CAMEOUT.

    Yes, we all want to look important and attractive atleast to someone in somewhere that likes me.

  • Comment number 52.

    Well, I suppose that I could sub photos of Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, or even Adolph Hitler for any photo of myself to perhaps enhance my credibility (or the lack thereof!).

    Seriously, hasn't there been a previous debate about this issue a couple of years ago? People should be themselves, in real life as well as in photos. And what virtue is there in using lightening creams? Why should people try to have lighter skin color than they were born with? Have people been hyped by "Western" adverts about skin tone? And isn't it ironic that many "Westerners" work at trying to darken their skin color through sun tanning and even by using skin darkening creams!

  • Comment number 53.

    i totally think there should be no sympthaty at all,even if he had the world on his shoulders there are other ways to deal with it,the sympathy shoud be there for the people s lives he has destroyed in my opinion he was just a coward and not a hero.

  • Comment number 54.

    "How important is your online image?" -BBC

    By the way, in just these past recent hours the BBC News main page apparently has changed format, and an HYS forum can no longer be found on the new main page. Therefore, could an HYS forum no longer be available in the future?

  • Comment number 55.

    Skin lightening creams? All I can say about that is that its a very sad state of affairs when people feel that in this day and age they STILL need to appear more westernised.

    As for online image, yes I believe its very important. Nobody should underestimate how your online character and appearance can drastically sway peoples opinions and mannerisms towards you.

    Applications like Facebook and other social media have fully integrated our lives with the internet... if I for example, went onto Facebook and began to bad mouth my colleagues, then I could lose my job... yet people do this kind of thing all the time.

    The world needs to wake up to the technology revolution and wise up.

  • Comment number 56.

    I have to smile at the people writing "my image isn't at all important..."

    When you take a pic of yourself and the camera augments every pore, wrinkle, spot and double chin, no-one puts it on Facebook.

    If they do it is because they have no sense of how others see them, which isn't always a bad thing.

    I have had to share offices with people with just such a poor sense of self (and of smell!) and I did not relish the experience.

    Admit it, a little vanity is ok.

    The posy pics.? Nyaaaah! Loose them!

    Just nice self, decent hair, nothing fancy, friendly smile, maybe a little arty image treatment to hide the wrinkles... it's allowed.

    Simple does it every time!

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 54

    Please excuse my earlier post, but it seems that I might have witnessed a format transition, and apparently BBC now does include the HYS format, thank you.

  • Comment number 58.

    I believe that, yes, it's important to have a good 'digital image', but not any more important than having a good 'real image'.

    It's worthless to have an Adonis pic in Facebook if then, in real life you look like Ogre.

    We must not get fooled, we must always take care of our real life first.

  • Comment number 59.

    Is the question how important is online image or what do we think about indians lightening their skin via cosmetic products? Seems like you desperately wanted to highlight the fact it is fashionable to lighten skin with some groups of people and less about online image - change your title then we can all revel in how great it is to be white

  • Comment number 60.

    Its because media is usually western based and the people who are held on a pedestal all have very pale skin for their race. Look at the rnb stars, i shouldnt have to give names they are all light skinned....bollywood promotes light-skinned stars over people with darker shades......this is a problem that spans races and countries......the conclusion one must ultimately fall to is that the media and fashion industries are entirely to blame

  • Comment number 61.

    For me it's not. My friends on Facebook are friends, not people I've met once or went to school with when I was 5. Therefore they know what I look like and they are my friends because they like me as a person.

  • Comment number 62.

    It comes as no surprise to me that India, being a developing economy, is being targeted by the cosmetic industry to peddle it's slop.

  • Comment number 63.

    Crikey! Isn't there enough falsification in real life?

    I sit on the train looking at females with artificial hair colour and style, cosmetics, body-shaping garments, odour masks, fake tans; a few males too with their dyed hair, aftershave in their armpits and Y-fronts! botox... no doubt their images on line have been photoshopped before posting.

    Is there anything real left about people?

  • Comment number 64.

    Whatever next, dodgy geezers/old fogys will be tarting themselves up to look much younger so they can go on chat rooms and pretend they are something they are not.

    There is just so much deception/pretence/fraud in life.

    Whether adverts fraudulently pretending to improve the world with one squirt, politicians using fashionable words to implement old policy ideals/agenda, pimply and spotty models being enhanced, faceless people on internet pretending to be better/more attractive than they actually are.

    Is it no wonder that there are SO MANY PROBLEMS in the world with SO LITTLE REALISM and TRUTH.

    The reality is that as a species we spend too much time trying to disassociate ourselves from truth and reality and we become so sceptical and unbelieving even when the truth slaps us full in the face.

    I suppose that because religion has accomplished non reality for so long it is now an endemic part of humanitys inner traits!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    Love the skin you are in. What is underneath is far more meaningful than the obsession preoccupying your mind.

  • Comment number 67.

    These creams are useless , they are like makeup , wash the face the effect disappears right away .

  • Comment number 68.

    there is a free way to feel good about oneself : get running for half an hour in the morning , and take a shower then before work/college/whatever ! Your face will get a healthy glow regardless of skin color .

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    Shippa Chetty spent time whitening her face in big brother. I consider male facial bleaching vanity.

  • Comment number 71.

    Look, look, no spots! Who cares about the sweet wrapper?

  • Comment number 72.

    I don't have an online image, and don't understand those who think they do. A photo is just another imperfect technical artefact and has no more relation to the way you really look than recorded music has to a live performance. When people say "that's a good photo" what they really mean is that it flatters you. In the end, of course, truth will out, just like in the morning when you get out of bed and look in the mirror. That's the real you, and you know it. No matter what you do to that reflection - comb your hair, put on makeup - underneath you are that first image in the mirror because the real you, including external appearance, is determined by what's inside, not what you plaster on the outside.

  • Comment number 73.

    Well, this shows you what is important in most Indian marriages! Indians have no moral right to accuse other cultures of racism. Smart Vaseline! Thanks for being so culturally sensitive.---Mary, Chennai, India

  • Comment number 74.

    Some people from India and other Asian countries prefer lighter skin because it shows wealth (in their culture). If you are toiling in the fields all day, your skin will be darkened by the sun; if you are wealthy enough to remain indoors, your skin will obviously be lighter. Now, even though this is not factually true (melanin is what matters, scientifically speaking), the connection between wealth and skin color remains in certain societies. After all, this way of thinking is seen in the West... if you have the opportunity to lounge poolside or at the beach on a regular basis, you must be wealthy, right? So we tan. Are these behaviors shallow? Of course-- frustrating, but not particularly upsetting. We know the connection between skin color and worth as a person is ridiculous, yet we in the West try to change our skin tone, use Botox, etc. It has to do with caring too much about what other people think, which doesn't always make us act logically.

  • Comment number 75.

    If you doctor your picture to look what you want to be and not what you are, then this dishonesty is going to get you notoriety, not good lasting and friendly relationships. If your investment in your profile is lies, then you will get those kinds of people who are bigger liars, are good at what they do and have victimized or disappointed many in their journey of fraud. Honesty is the best policy, if you speak and act in truth then you do not need to remember anything, liars have to spin a new web of lies every time they get caught. Internet has become the eyes and ears of society, it is going to penetrate into our personal lives even deeper, so invest in truth and shun the lies.

  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    IT is sad that a country with almost billions of dark skinned people are being trained to dislike their own skin color. World! did we not stop caring about skin color long ago

  • Comment number 78.

    "Is your image important?"


    Ask Anna Chapman.

  • Comment number 79.

    Never afraid to tackle gritty subjects eh BBC?!
    Are the bankers still geting bonuses? Er yes. Are the mp-s jailed yet? No. So lets discuss images.....

  • Comment number 80.

    I surely understand the use of face-lightner or as u say beauty creams. I am a Pakistani with a similar culture and thoughts as any living in India.
    The colour difference in both socities is playing major roles when u go sp. for weddings although values morals should be given importance as you have to live with the person not with the beauty.
    If I were to ask to use such thing I would surely like people to know and love me who I am not how I look..

  • Comment number 81.

    Instead of wasting money on these products, why not take a picture of yourself and learn some photo editing tips using a free image editing software package. Job done. Warning though... People will still spot a fake. Just accept what you born with.

  • Comment number 82.

    I am terribly sorry, but some of these comments seem horribly shallow and ignorant - almost supremacist - to me.

    Please, everyone that posts suggesting that whitening to look more like "white people" (presumably caucasians) is funny/vain/shallow, consider this: In large parts of Asia throughout history, there has been a lot of outdoors manual labour and having FAIR skin in these areas has been a very high status symbol as it represents the person being wealthy enough to skip said labour. This transferring to the online realm seems entirely reaonable to me. It has nothing to do with looking like "white people".

    It's about the same thing as people buying expensive clothes, cars, houses, etc... oops! I guess I just took a pot shot at most people here for their vain western consumerism. Forgive me.

  • Comment number 83.

    If your told from and shown from birth what color is "pretty" you will believe it, this is a media thing. India should cast off the crimes committed on her by the UK, even the unintentional ones. The prejusdices inflicted on the Indian population are a combination of Indias inherent caste system and British rascism, but its up to India now, stop blaming the past!

  • Comment number 84.

    There's always been a pressure in India to look fair. It's not uncommon to see pictures of the millions of Hindu gods and goddesses depicted with a fair skin, although some of them (e.g. Krishna was supposedly so dark that he looked blue!). If these gods and goddesses did originate in the sub-continent as in the mythology, they surely couldn't have been fair. Unfortunately that's never questioned and so every new generation lives with the notion that even some of the gods were fair skinned! Movies are another forum where the 'fair skinned' person wins it all, even Bollywood songs depict darker skinned people as being inferior (e.g. see lyrics of Amitabh Bachan's 'Tere Angane mein'). In modern parlance, IT & software are just different tools to reach out to these miserable self-deprecating people. The problem is Indians by and large are the source of their own problems and lack the confidence to see themselves as strong in their own shoes. One just have to see the differences between them and many Africans such as Ghanians, Cameroonians, etc. who are strong and confident despite their shiny dark(black) complexion. Until that happens Vaseline, Fair & Lovely, Jack-in-the-box and grandma's skin lightener will do well in the potentially billion dollar Indian market.

    Then again, seen in a bigger context, isn't it true that in the western world, even Jesus Christ is shown as a fair skinned person? How much more silly can this get? Why does the media get all psyched up when some silly story such as this pops out?

  • Comment number 85.

    Clearly as the BBC have paid out licence fee money for a face-lift of their own site (nothing wrong with the old one as far as I could see)
    It would appear that for the BEEB it is very important, provided of course you don't actually have to find the money to do it yourself!

  • Comment number 86.

    I do not know where to start with this story. It is ridiculous on so many levels.
    I cannot believe that given the struggle we still have in the UK with treatment of people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries that India is insisting on making their own people whiter on facebook and that to reinforce this, the claim that whiter skin is more attractive?

    I am a white british person, I have close friends who are black and asian. They have had to put up with mindless, narrow minded racism and prejudice for years. I am sickened by the behaviour of my neighbours, work colleagues and even some of my family in their ignorant slating of anyone who isn't white.

    I cannot believe we are still fighting to get a level playing field in this world, where all humans have equal rights, we are such a long way off it is shocking. The person responsible for the books should be taken to court for inciting racism. The film industry should be fined and held accountable for the lies they are reinforcing. Facebook should ban all groups and pages of this nature.

    Beauty has absolutely nothing to do with skin colour! so any reference to pretending that you are richer because you have paler skin and therefore have never had to work outdoors is just pathetic. We need to reiterate that working on the things we do for others and how we live our lives is far more important than how we look and what people think of us! This vain, shallow empty existence is why the world is in such a horrendous mess. We are a society of vain and selfish people set on destruction and loneliness but according to the beauty industry of India are supposed to compensate that by looking beautiful, young and white.

  • Comment number 87.

    Western cultures have successfully get rid of this complex of dark skin on its majority but Asians are still living in this captivated taboo of fairness which they have inherited from their last generations.
    Infatuation with deceptive looks provided on net meetings has gained successful attraction just because of this weakness of inhabitants of east.
    Indian film industry a very popular entertainment on international level in surely encouraging this fair-skin attitude as what they present in their film industry has no reflection of reality in their existing system.

  • Comment number 88.

    I`ve never read anything so stupid!

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    I do not understand what is so strange in all that. And I can't find what is new in all that.

    Since prehistory people cared about their projected image. Statues of kings and heros depicted them in a far better light than they were in reality, more handsome, more athletic, more decisive. Well that is absolutely the same with online activities like facebook. People naturally will put the nice photos of them. And why not? Why a non-flattering photo would tell anymore the truth than a flattering one? Naturally people will chose the 2nd to put in their page. Now if people put any photos that are not depicting them in a flattering pose, then very probably these photos will have a humouristic approach which again is yet another effort to try to project something positive which is not anymore true or false than a flattering photo.

    In a time when people pass hours everyday online, the online image matters and it matters more than the statue of the king next to the temple for the simple reason that people visit their page to see them while people back then simply passed by the temple without necessarily sitting in front of the statue and looking at it. Hence it makes sense that people take care of their online image.

    Now as long as Indians - and not only, Indonesians, Africans and Latin Americans are included in that - are concerned, yes the "white" skin in most of these cultures is perceived as having a social (=sexual) advantage over darker skin. So what? What is new in that? People did this even before having evolved into humans out of the family of monkeys. Millions of spieces do that - if I start counting how many animals have evolved, stupid meaningless decorations on them due to natural selection I wont end today. Let the people do as they please. If it backfires in terms of reproducing racism then let it be, this thing won't stop, it will be replaced by something else. Europeans actually have replaced it with the opposite - the rich & beautiful are the tanned ones since they have the money to go on holidays even in winter. Same thing, social distinctions on outer appearence.

    Forget about changing. Racism won't go for the very single reason that your mother loves you more than the kid of the neighbour. Appearence racism won't go for 99 out of 100 men will chose Naomi Cambell over Woopi Goldberg no matter if the latter is a more intelligent & good-hearted lady.

    PS: My advice: like all things, don't overdo it in airbrushing yourselfs in the photos you put online. Just chose those photos that are more flattering for you, chose a couple of them who are not os flattering but have a humorous appeal and you will be alright. People spot on easily the very airbrushed ones and they get the feeling you are a very complexed person which of course backfires on your image.

  • Comment number 91.

    It's likely we were all black in an early stage of our evolution. The phenotypes which resulted from the mutations for pale skin, light hair and blue eyes must have been regarded as highly desirable. Maybe nothing changes.

  • Comment number 92.

    Online image? What on earth is an online image? Do I have one? Do I need one ... good grief, whatever next.
    It's human nature to be unhappy with your lot; too dark, too light, too tall, too short, curly hair, straight hair - you name it and you'll find someone who want's what they haven't got. More importantly, you'll find that some £$multi-billion company has developed exactly what you need to be what you're not and it may cost more than you can afford and have no proven value but it's something you just have to have.
    Exploting human nature and misery is the name of the game.

  • Comment number 93.

    Two things to mention on this topic:

    1) Who puts their real picture on Facebook ?

    2) 8. At 1:42pm on 14 Jul 2010, Scamandrius wrote:

    .....
    A vigorous programme of inter-breeding.

    .....

    What if you have a bad back or a heart condition ? I'm not sure how vigorous I can be, especially after a long flight...

  • Comment number 94.

    82. At 08:00am on 15 Jul 2010, Timmy_K wrote:
    """Please, everyone that posts suggesting that whitening to look more like "white people" (presumably caucasians) is funny/vain/shallow, consider this: In large parts of Asia throughout history, there has been a lot of outdoors manual labour and having FAIR skin in these areas has been a very high status symbol as it represents the person being wealthy enough to skip said labour. This transferring to the online realm seems entirely reaonable to me. It has nothing to do with looking like "white people".""""

    Correct. Some naif Europeans have this notion because they mix the tedency to prefer whiter suntans with the fact that in the past they were the ruling classes in the colonies etc. In the same way Europeans confused the reference to "blond" heros in Homeric poems as a preference of the relatively black/dark brown haired Greeks to blond which is not true since few heros were described as blond and then blond as a word is not a colour since the Mediterranean blond is the Scandinavian dark brown (Mediterraneans describe the Scandinavian light blond as white-like). In Iliad only Achiles was described as blond while Oddysey was mentioned in one part blond in another as dark brown.

    Yes, this preference to whiter skin is not of course to resemble "white pepole" as it existed in these cultures much before they ever met the first "pale people". However it did bad on them since even at first sight they inherently considered Europeans as something better than them. Their relative technological backwardness did not aid much in that either.

    However it has not been always like that. For example in ancient times Egyptians themselves of relatively dark skin (though not "Africans" in the negroid sense as some Afrocentricists claim) seemed to consider inferior all people who were of a whiter complexion, but also of a darker complexion too. Greeks too considered in a very racist way their Mediterranean tribe as the culmination of human evolution and they considered inferior all northern tribes with philosophers even arguing that blond hair and very white skin is a sign of inferiority. Greeks mocked Persians for their whiter complexion as a sign of being effeminate. However, that was mainly for men since for women a whiter complexion would be preferable (as in India, only low class women working in the fields ould get a suntan). Today of course they think of the opposite as only the poor Greeks don't go on holidays thus they get relatively less suntan. The more tanned a girl looks the more attractive is perceived.

  • Comment number 95.

    Once again we have greedy cosmetic companies, feeding off people's lack of self worth or self-esteem. It's time we stopped this trend of people aspiring to be someone else or something they're not. Build people's self-image, not encourage them to be something they're not and, in the process, make millions out of their suffering.

  • Comment number 96.

    "39. At 5:48pm on 14 Jul 2010, druid2002 wrote:

    This is a vane attempt for Indians to be accepted by a generally (albeit subconscious!) racist West.

    If it works then good for them!!"

    Actually I think it's more of a vain attempt to be more accepted in an inherently racist Indian society where pale but not white skin colour is preferred. Look at the top bollywood stars, they all have light skin tones

  • Comment number 97.

    I painstakingly design each of my online selves (Second Life, Facebook, Twitter, Mumsnet, etc) to be a huge improvement on the real me. And let me assure you that in my case it's not difficult!
    In truth I'd really like to disappear into the ether and become my internet persona, beautiful, intelligent, kind, wise. loved and loving.
    Meanwhile I've got a pile of ironing to do.

  • Comment number 98.

    Of course there are social and economic factors in crime rates. However, to infer that therefore deterrence is ineffective is naive.
    Social attitudes ostracising law breakers has a major impact on crime but respect for the law seems to be at an all time low. With rising unemployment and shrinking prosperity, crime rates are set to rise.
    This may not be a good time to reduce the threat of punishment! There are alternatives to jail (capital punishment/castration for rapists?) but laughable 'community service' sentences are not the answer.

  • Comment number 99.

    Of course if this was British and not American we could call it imperialist racism. But the Americans aren’t like that are they?

  • Comment number 100.

    It suprises me to see comments about how the desire to look whiter in India must have been some legacy of the British presence there as it is present in China where, to the best of my knowledge, Britain has never had any notable presence beyond the ports.

    It is a perverse world that sees Asians long to be whiter while we in the west spend all our time trying to get a tan, certainly people here find it funny that I go out in the sun while everyone else hides in the shade. Good place to come for a quiet beach though.

    I suppose it comes down to trying to be something that you are not, to insecurity or whatever the psychologists currently want to term it.

    My online image is often a charicature, do I want to be that character though? The answer is very rarely though it does give me a chance to exercise imagination from time to time. Facebook is much truer to my self than the persona I would use on forums though.

    As to Facebook, there was suggestion that employers use facebook as a way to look at potential employees and so maybe I need to work on my image a little bit if I am going to get a job sometime soon...

 

Page 1 of 2

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.