In 2011, the controversial film Dark Girls, directed by former actor Bill Duke, discussed the struggles dark-skinned black women go through on a daily basis.
Four years on, Duke returns with Light Girls, a documentary addressing the plight of lighter-skinned black women – “the pain of not feeling black enough”.
Premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and featuring testimonials from the likes of Kanye West’s old flame Amber Rose (above), Light Girls explores colourism from a historical, social and psychological perspective.
The film, takes an in-depth look at lighter-skinned black women globally, whilst analysing contemporary issues such as skin bleaching and bullying.
Dark Girls tackled a subject that was taboo in the African-American community and shed light on the misconceptions that surround different skin shades. However, Light Girls is a disappointment, lacking the balance and insight offered by its predecessor.
To a large degree, the film perpetuates the stereotype that dark-skinned girls are bitter and jealous individuals, angry towards lighter-skinned women
It completely ignores the issue of white privilege being one of the concrete explanations as to why there is such a clear division between the two shades – and it’s not just about a bitter dark woman.
The documentary also features black men who discuss why they prefer lighter skinned women. They say it is because because they see them as trophies that were not built for work.
This attitude harks back to the slave era when light-skinned black women would stay in the house completing easier work, whilst the dark-skinned female slaves would be outside doing hard labour. The film offers no real explanation or alternatives to the men’s sexist views.
Despite this, the documentary has its positives. It offers a global perspective on colourism and the fact that it’s not just a black issue, by featuring the example of lower-caste woman in India. Despite its flaws, Light Girls does shed some light on the issues black woman, of whatever skin shade, face on a daily basis.
Featured image courtesy of Bill Duke Productions