This week, when pictures of Beyonce in Los Angeles for the Grammy’s hit the web, people seemed to have many questions. If they weren’t asking where Jay was or why Gwyneth Paltrow was her date instead of her hubby, the onlookers had one other thing on their minds: her skin.

Why is she so light?

Did she bleach her skin?

One article, though, seems to stick out.  Today in the Daily Mail, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown wonders if Bey is setting a bad example. In “Why I believe Beyonce is Betraying All Black and Asian Women,” she writes,

“Her complexion and limbs were translucently pallid, her locks long, straight and blonde.

Now, racial mixing since the days of slavery means ‘Black’ Americans come in a whole range of skin hues, but in recent years Beyonce’s tone seems miraculously to be changing from dusky to peachy.

In truth, it is hard now to tell she is the daughter of an African-American father and Creole mother. It was three years ago that L’Oreal was accused of whitening Beyonce’s face in a magazine advert, a charge denied by the company. But now there she is, looking like a willowy Caucasian.”

Okay, let’s back up.  While it’s one thing to note your preference for a bronzy hued Beyonce, it is quite another to imply that she is purposely seeking to lighten her skin.  It seems like the oldest trick in the book of Black women’s criticisms to attribute paler skin to self-hatred.

Do African-American women continually see celeb examples of bleached skin?  Sure.  Our range of celebrities has certainly gone through it.  But for Beyonce (who has always been of fair complexion to begin with) to be blamed for having less of a tan than usual seems a bit harsh.  The snap judgment seems to speak more about our underlying beliefs more than we’re willing to admit.

Could the answer to this mystery be simply that Honey B has a case of the winter blues or must there be more to it?

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  • A friend of mine saw her at a studio years ago and said that she was naturally light, but they had been spray bronzing her for a while. It you look at her mom, she’s the same lighter complexion.

  • Acc

    Oh My Goodness People, TANS FADE…PERIOD!!! The lightest to darkest complexions can tan and yes tans fade in the winter. Everyone keeps commenting like only light complexions tan, skin tans. Lighter skin tanning is more noticeable obviously so maybe that’s what it is. Anyway I think Beyonce has gotten lighter but only in a media kind of way, not by bleaching her skin. The media or industry has noticeably lighten her in some photo’s and not so much in others. I agree with Michelle that it is what happens in White Hollywood, and it is seen as something equivalent to success, sick but true. I’ve seen a photo of her and she was super light, not even oh my tan just faded light, it was ridiculous. But if she is aware of these things happening I think it is her job to tell people to not edit her complexion, unless she is playing into it and has been/continues to use it as an advantage.

    Sidebar: yes that blonde hair needs to go, her natural color is way darker.

  • This issue is deep rooted and struggled with it for a long time. I talk about my “light skinned privilege” here:

    But the sooner we recognize it for what it is, the sooner we can begin to heal and move on.


  • modern lady

    White people make a big deal about skin bleaching because they’re uncomfortable with lighter skinned black people in general. They like looking at us and knowing we’re of African decent. It’s a superiority thing. As if lighter skin is going to improve Beyonce’s credit rating or something, lol. She’s rich whether she’s tanned or pale. Somehow, they can understand the concept of white people tanning then getting pale in the wintertime, but Black people aren’t afforded that same courteousy-implausible.

    Now, I think Blacks focus on it simply because of enmity and self hate. That was also ingrained in us since slavery days. And this Daily Mail article is simply seeking to keep that legacy going.

    • sara

      that is the best comment ever on colorism. You are so right. Even in photoshoots they always like to apply make up to black women that are shades darker and they insist black babies should have vitamin D supplements to make them even darker. I think you are right. Ive noticed how aggressive some whites are towards middle eastern looking blacks, or blacks who are ‘beautiful’. to them you can only be jet black to be real black. they are so ignorant. they cant accept the fact that light skin does not mean mixed all the time. Its like when my baby was born people always gave me the comment she is too pretty to be black, or she must be mixed.

  • Modupe Florence Okpeku

    I’m wondering why there is so much defensiveness for Beyonce, when I just read an article, crying foul about Thandie Newton, who is half African, playing a Nigerian?!? I’m confused. What is the difference. But Bey and Kelly did have nose jobs. Bey went to Spain decrying how is envious of their culture. And at one time, she and Shakira were looking like twins. You don’t have to be from England to have develop similar observations.