I once had a boss who suffered from “tanorexia” (tanning addiction). Though red of hair, her face was dark and leathery; it was painful to behold, and people would make morbid fire-survivor jokes behind her back. Her tan never faded, even through the coldest and cloudiest winter months.

This boss was noticeably biased against the few naturally darker-skinned employees under her authority, and accusations of racism bubbled to the surface now and then. When I mentioned, to the affected coworkers, that what we have here is probably not “racism” but jealousy, laughter was the response. This had never occurred to them and they didn’t know what to make of it. We all knew she had a tanning problem, and we all knew she treated her darker employees as second-class citizens; she kept us (yes, in her eyes I was “dark” too) as far away from herself as possible. But nobody had put two and two together.

Is dark skin (I’m not necessarily including very dark skin here) considered more attractive among whites in America? A 2010 ABC article reports:

The Jersey Shore uber-tan aesthetic may not be for everyone, but it seems that even for non-Guidettes, having a tan makes them sexier, according to a study from Emory University.

Researchers used the popular attractiveness-rating website HotorNot.com to gauge whether “hotness” scores would change when the same woman was shown with her natural complexion and then with a tan.

Using Photoshop, 45 photos of women aged 21 to 35 were doctored to look tan. The original photos and the doctored versions were posted to the site at different times. The researchers found that the darker version was twice as likely to be rated as more attractive.

Of course, tan enthusiasts would say that you don’t need science to figure that one out.

“When I look in the mirror I feel more attractive when I’m darker, like my face is prettier. It’s 100 percent a confidence boost for me,” says Lauren Kafka, 31, of Miami, who uses a tanning bed three times a week to keep up her golden glow.

Are less attractive people jealous of more attractive people? At least among females, the answer is obviously “yes.” It’s not a stretch to say that some fair-skinned people are jealous of darker-skinned people – and that this jealousy can translate into perceived racism in a work environment.

If “racism” is at work here, then it might actually be the self-loathing that so many whites possess. They loath their white skin, they consider it ugly – and they envy those whose skin is a few shades darker. How ironic that the demonization of whites can lead to “racist” attitudes toward non-whites. How many “microaggressions” against non-whites can be laid at the feet of white guilt and white self-loathing?

 

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