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History of the Obsession with Fair Skin

by Doris Wagner |


Feminine beauty ideals have changed during the course of time and geographic regions.

Do you believe that double chins were a symbol of sexual attractiveness in the Renaissance period (1250-1450)? Today's Western craze about skinny bodies might have been equally awkward to people of the Baroque period (1575-1770), who clearly preferred voluptuous women with lots of feminine curves! Interestingly enough, the Maasai people in East Africa find tooth spaces so irresistible until today that they create them on purpose by removing incisors of their children.

‘Beauty ideals are contemporary perceptions about beauty regarding the appearance of body and face within a culture. Perceptions of clothing, jewellery or hairstyles, on the other hand, are a matter of fashion.’ (Wikipedia)

How about pale, white skin? Some examples across time and space:

  • Pale white skin along with rouge cheeks and blue eyes was considered quintessential beauty of the European Middle Ages and snow-white skin, lightly rose coloured cheeks and dark-brown eyes was the beauty ideals of curvy women of the Renaissance period.

  • Brown, tanned skin has become quintessential beauty in Europe since the 1960's when prosperous people could afford to sun bath at the Mediterranean - since 2010 we can however notice a counter-trend referred to as Snow White beauty ideal (dark eyes, dark hair, porcelain pale skin) boosted by the awareness of harmful UVA/B radiation.

  • 'Bi-Haiku' skin (beautiful and white) like porcelain is the main beauty ideal of Japan, where pale skin has been a symbol of nobility since the Nara period (710-794) - Ganguro is an alternative beauty ideal among young Japanese girls since the 1990ies, who purposely get a very dark skin tan and use very colorful and dark make-up.

  • In India skin whitening used to have a social and racist connotation as underprivileged could easily be recognized by the dark colour of their skin - a situation that got worse with European colonialism. Nowadays  awareness campaign like 'Dark is Beautiful' tries to change the society's skin colour bias by celebrating the diversity of all skin tones.

  • Anthropologists have discovered that female skin is usually 15% paler than male skin within the same ethical group and - according to a Canadian study - men prefer women with lighter skin, whereas women tend to prefer men with darker skin than their own.

Dark Skin has Long Been a Sign Of Impoverished Background

10 billion USD dollars is generated annually through selling tanning lotions worldwide, while 40 billion USD is made by selling whitening creams according to an article published 2013.

While many of the whitening products sold are also used by Caucasians to

  • reduce hyper pigmented areas
  • lessen dark circles around eyes
  • eliminate age spots
  • lighten dark spots
  • blur scars 
  • reduce upper skin layer tattoos


Many people try to bleach their skin for socioeconomic reasons and fear of being discriminated based on their skin color - referred to as colourism / looksism.

Some of them go so far as to risk their health by using harmful and caustic substances like Hydrochinone or Benzoquinone. When Michael Jackson was found dead, police found no less than 37 creams, some of them containing such drastic ingredients which is banned in Europe due to its harmful effects.


NAVI by DORIS WAGNER is made in Germany, is dermatologically tested and uses two thoroughly tested, totally non-harmful ingredients:


It is our intention to make flawless skin possible to women regardless of their natural skin tone. Our skin care regimen will even out skin irregularities, blur flaws and softly lighten pigmentation without harming your skin.

Every skin tone has its beauty and should be celebrated! Don't forget that thousands of people somewhere else would love to have your shade of skin colour while you don't cherish it.

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