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Gerrie Summers

Beyonce, Again? Pale Skin Sparks Controversy

By January 17, 2012

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Everyone is a-buzz (or should I say ablaze?) over yet another skin-lightening controversy involving singer Beyonce.

This time it is over a new promotional photo for Beyonce's fourth solo album 4 and the excessive use of photo shopping to lighten Beyonce's skin tone.

Sound familiar? As much as I like Beyonce, this time I can't just attribute it to bright lighting on the set.

Beyonce had already been criticized for unusually light skin in the original photos for 4. You might also recall that in 2008 L'Oreal was accused of lightening the singer's complexion for a hair ad, an accusation the company denied.

Last year the singer came under fire for a photo shoot in L'Officiel Paris' 90th Anniversary issue that was meant to honor Africa's influence on fashion. Beyonce modeled African-inspired designs and in one photo was darkened with makeup, appearing in what some critics referred to as "black face." The magazine said that the inspiration came from several African rituals in which face paint is used.

In those incidents L'Oreal and L'Officiel basically took the heat and released statements to fan out the flames. But after those heated controversies over the issue of skin tone lightening (and darkening), you'd think Beyonce would notice, right? As PopEater's Naughty But Nice Rob Shuter mentioned today on New York Live, Beyonce herself no doubt approves official album photo shoots. So this is no accident. So far, Beyonce nor her camp has released an official statement about the matter.

Filmmaker D. Channsin Berry, who made the documentary Dark Girls (which is about the issues darker skinned black women face), told the NY Daily News that Beyonce is "doing what she needs to do to be accepted worldwide and keep those sponsors happy." If that's the case, people are correct in believing that this is sending out the wrong message to young girls of color. "I wish she had people around her telling her that God doesn't make mistakes," Berry continued, "that you are beautiful the way you are."

I'd really like to hear what Beyonce has to say about this. I'd hate to think that someone who writes anthemic songs like "Run The World (Girls)" would knowingly promote a practice that can foster self-hate in impressionable girls and young women. In the meantime, what do you think?

Beyonce, is that you?/Photo: Beyonceonline.com

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