A Cardiff University study which involved rating 1,205 black, white and mixed-race faces has found that mixed-race faces are viewed as more attractive than black and white faces and in general they are perceived as successful.
The author of the study, Dr Michael Lewis said that mixed-race people where disproportionately successful in many professions such as Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton, actress Halle Berry and American president Barack Obama.
Dr Lewis put this down to Darwin’s theory of heterosis, a biological observation which suggests that cross-breeding leads to offspring which are genetically superior to their parents.
The contradictions in the study
There are contradictions in this study however, for example the fact that study respondents associated mixed-race people with beauty and success could be more to do with racial ideology than Darwin’s theory of heterosis.
Skin tone has continued to leave a deep psychological imprint in the minds of black people to the extent that skin bleaching creams is a growing industry.
According to Alphonso Van Marsh, in a report for CNN Health in November 2007, “Skin bleaching — using chemical or natural products to lighten skin color — is common practice in the Americas, Africa, across Asia, and increasingly, in Europe.”
Marsh added, “And as the UK’s Asian, African and African-Caribbean communities grow, so too — cosmetics industry experts say — does ethnic spending power for products promoted to lighten skin tone.”
More importantly Marsh said, “Psychologists say consumer demand can be traced to perceptions that lighter skinned or white people are more successful, intelligent and sexually desirable.”
The struggle of non-white models for recognition in the mainstream modelling industry has been long and slow, the fact that white beauty is the staple of the mainstream media’s coverage indicates that ultimately lighter skin tones are most likely associated with beauty and success because of slave ideology rather than Darwin’s heterosis. This would also explain why they are overrepresented in successful professions as well.
Dr Lewis’s study also ignores the fact that mixed-race people are treated differently to whites and are discriminated against on the grounds of their skin colour.
A House of Commons Home Affairs Committee report titled, “Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System” (2006-2007) said that “… young people of ‘mixed’ ethnicity, when sentenced, are more likely to receive more punitive sentences than young white people.”
This finding indicates that mixed-race people are discriminated against on the grounds of their African ancestry contradicting the suggestion by the study that whites somehow see mixed-race people as successful. If this were the case they would be treated as equally if not better than whites.
If mixed-race people are perceived as more attractive and successful it is not because of heterosis as the study suggests but rather deep colour prejudices which still informs the way people perceive beauty today.
For further research: