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Controversy

Miss India pageant prompts national debate about cultural obsession with lighter skin

By WITW Staff on June 3, 2019

Organizers for the Miss India beauty pageant have been accused of showing preference to lighter-skinned contestants after a Twitter user shared a compilation of headshots of the 30 contestants and asked, “What is wrong with this picture?”

Online commenters on the collage, which is owned by the pageant and was first published in the Times of India, according to the BBC, pointed out that all the women looked similar, with lighter complexions. Critics said the photos are indicative of a culture that favors lighter skinned women over darker skinned women, as evidenced by a booming skin-lightening cream industry, according to the BBC.

A representative for the beauty pageant — the contest that kick-started actress Priyanka Chopra’s career, according to the BBC — said the pictures were retouched, but that the skin tone was not supposed to be altered. She blamed a tight publication deadline and the newsprint quality in the newspaper for the appearance of lighter skin.

Read the full story at BBC News.

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