I'm sure you remember the popular Saturday morning sitcom Saved By The Bell which aired between 1989 an 1993. Yes, it was a long time ago but who can forget fictional Bayside High School cast comprised of the nerdy Samuel "Screech" Powers played by Dustin Diamond; "Jessie Spano" played by Elizebeth Berkeley; Tiffani Amber-Thiessen's character "Kelly Kapowski;" "Zack Morris" played by Mark-Paul Gosselaarthe; cute dimpled Mario Lopez's, character "A.C. Slater;" and the vivacious "Lisa Turtle" played by Lark Voorhies.
Well, Lark is older now like the rest of the cast but it is not her aging that is turning heads lately. The beautiful, bubbly "Lisa" now looks startlingly different. With what looks like a bleached job gone wrong--she will certainly continue to turn heads but not for the reasons you may think. Her beauty has morphed into something truly sad. You see, the dye job is not her hair color but her skin color.
The actress's complexion is several shades lighter--ala, the late king of popkind of lighter. Her facial structure has also changed drastically and rumors of plastic surgery also gone bad are circulating.
This brings up all sorts of troubling questions: Why would a beautiful woman like Voorhies mutilate her looks to this extreme? Bleach her skin to this shade of pale?
Is the complex of color in America rearing it's ugly, complicated head? Did this gorgeous woman think her cafe latte with a touch of cream complexion not good enough, beautiful enough? European standards of beauty are revered not only in America but across the globe. The sins of colonialism lingers and people from several ethnic groups forever strive to measure up.
In India, skin bleaching is a booming business and in the Caribbean, one popular reggae singer in Jamaica has bleached his skin to such a drastic extent, he would be unrecognizable to his mother. Here in the U.S., magazines feature White and the lighter shades of brown more often than dark complexions. Some even lighten models skin in photos before featuring them on their covers.
In 2011, Elle magazine raised eyebrows for featuring the beautiful Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchain on their cover, several shades lighter than she really was. The Bollywood actress was so upset, she threatened to sue. That same magazine created another controversy for lightening a teen actress's skin on their cover. Precious star Gabourey Sidibi, who is African-American, was featured also much lighter than her dark brown skin tone.
Singer Beyoncé created a stir when she was lightened to almost unrecognizable in one of her pictorial. In the African-American community, the color complex is still rampant. The "brown paper-bag test" is sadly very much ingrained in our cultural psyche.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the brown paperback test--it was a way our society measured beauty in color back in "the day." If your complexion was a certain light shade of brown, you would pass the test of acceptable or preferred beauty. Certain social groups wouldn't allow members who didn't pass this skin test. Dark skin was and still is considered less attractive and even less intelligent in our culture and beyond.
Take a look at the above pics and judge for yourselves.
Check out my other article on the complex of color in America and beyond:http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-new