UNFAIR— A book about colourism in South Asia

My OCADU Thesis Project

Colourism is a prominent problem in many cultures around the world, and my book Unfair focuses on the issue in South Asia. Discrimination against those of darker skin tones is seen in day-to-day life through popular media, advertising and more, and seriously impacts the lives of many. Unfair takes a deep-dive into the origins of colourism in South Asia due to colonialism and the caste system, and explores the various ways in which the issue has manifested over the decades in the beauty, film and other industries. Through research, analysis and interviews, including one of myself and my sister, I hope to bring this serious issue to light.

Other Experimentation

I created this short stop-motion video as a potential accompanying piece to my book based on something many young South Asians are told growing up: "don't play in the sun or you'll get dark!" This seemingly harmless exclamation stems from roots in colourism, and subjects children to a very unhealthy way to think about their skin in relation to its colour from a young age. I decided to create a more lighthearted approach to the issue, using Barbie dolls and creating a mini backyard setup. Although I did not end up using this in my final thesis project (due to COVID-19 cancelling GradEx where it would be shown along with a larger display), I am very happy with how it turned out and would love to continue it as a series someday.

Process Work

Initially, I was going to cover the topic of colourism all over the world, using classic European art pieces with melanated skin tone overlays to create humorous and at times, ironic,  imagery. However, I decided that I wanted to focus on one region at a time so I could really do justice to the diverse historical backgrounds of each one. I hope to one day continue this project and show how colourism spans across the globe.

Using Format