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The first time New Zealand resident Harsharin Kaur visited India, the country of her ancestors, as an adult, she was struck by the amount of pressure there was for people to change the colour of their skin.


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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. This study investigated perceptions of skin tone discrimination among adult African American men.

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These are just some of the women at the top of their game in the world of entertainment in But how much of their success is down to the shade of their skin?

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It's been suggested by some that black women with lighter skin find it easier to get ahead because of colourism. It's something that grime artist Lioness says she's experienced. She told Newsbeat she quit music for seven years and part of the reason was down to prejudice about her darker skin. The issue of colourism was reignited recently after Maya Jama addressed the controversy over a "joke" she tweeted in which mocked dark-skinned women.

Some people on social media claimed the Radio 1 presenter's career has been helped by "light-skin privilege". Maya Jama light skin privilege got her to where she is now, same privilege is having her get a free pass on making distasteful jokes about dark skin women.

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Beyonce's dad Matthew Knowles also suggested some black people enjoy greater fame because they're lighter-skinned earlier this year. He claimed his daughter was more successful because of her skin tone and said virtually no black pop stars with darker skin had broken through in the past decade.

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Of the 68 female solo artists who've been in the British Top 40 chart since the start of17 are of black heritage - and the vast majority of those are lighter-skinned. Kelli-Leigh, whose mum is black and dad is white, got into the top 10 last year on the James Hype song More Than Friends. She said: "For some reason in the UK the doors are still quite closed for female artists who are of a darker complexion in terms of different styles It's led to questions about whether their skin colour played a part in their success.

The UK Music scene is sketchy. Nicole Vassell, entertainment and features editor at Pride magazine - which is aimed at women of colour - says: "There's a reason why a lot of the rising stars and the people who are the highest in the industry are lighter-skinned. Experts point to colourism being deep-rooted in history and racism - and people often experience it from others within their own race. Dr Kehinde Andrews, associate professor in sociology at Birmingham City University and co-chair of the Black Studies Association, says: "If we think about the idea of beauty and what is beautiful, racism is kind of based on this idea that you have this hierarchy - African black at the bottom and white European civilised at the top.

The debate around colourism has also extended to other parts of the entertainment industry.

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When looking at magazines, the top four best-selling women's magazines Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Grazia and Marie Claire have had nine black female celebrities on of their front covers since January The Duchess of Sussex spoke about the issue of colourism in - saying as an actress she was seen as "ethnically ambiguous".

Writing in Elle magazineshe said one of the reasons her role as Rachel Zane in the US legal drama Suits "stole her heart" was because it wasn't about the character's skin colour. Star Wars actress Lupita Nyong'o has ly spoken about being teased for her "night-shaded skin" and would pray to God to wake up lighter-skinned.

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Actress Adele Oni plays a photographer in upcoming British film No Shade - which is all about colourism and love. She says: "We are all aware how inherent it is in our society, the concept of colourism and the concept of growing up and understanding if you're fairer skinned you're prettier in the eyes of men - and we accept it. Media and entertainment has recently been celebrated for being more diverse.

Edward Enninful, the first black editor of British Vogue took over in August last year, and the May issue of the magazine featured women with various skin tones. And Black Panther, whose cast includes Lupita Nyong'o and Letitia Wright, was praised for representing darker-skinned women in film.

'light-skin privilege'

Jordan Mitchell, managing director for PR firm Liz Matthews PR, says the debate around colourism can "sometimes work against women of colour". She says the focus should be celebrating the fact the entertainment industry has become more diverse. Lioness released a remix of her single DBT Dead Black Ting earlier this month - which featured several other darker-skinned female artists such as Lady Leshurr and Little Simz - to hit back at colourism.

She says she now celebrates being darker-skinned and wanted the song to "touch on the fact that we are all one race whatever the shade".

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Maya Jama: Dark-skinned tweet 'ignorant'. Beyonce's dad calls out pop's colourism. Colourism and black love.

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Image source, Getty Images. Maya Jama light skin privilege got her to where she is now, same privilege is having her get a free pass on making distasteful jokes about dark skin women — nOt EveN WAter?

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Image source, PA. Image source, Tenisha White. Image source, Alamy. Related Topics. Film Black women Race and ethnicity Music. More on this story. Published 23 May Published 7 February Published 17 February