SEATTLE — Two Seattle high school students are sparking a conversation about colorism, which is discrimination based on skin color, typically within the same racial or ethnic group.
Leila Abe and Mimi Zekaryas are part of KUOW's RadioActive youth podcasting program. They produced a story about how colorism affects them and found many other girls are profoundly impacted by colorism, as well.
The students talked about their project on KING 5's New Day Northwest. Zekaryas said the colorism problem is especially prevalent in black communities in the U.S. and Asian communities.
Abe said, "I think it stems from a lot of beauty standards being so Eurocentric. So anything that's not smaller noses, or fairer skin, or straighter hair is just undesirable."
"This is a struggle all around the world," said Zekaryas.
Their podcast "Dark-skinned girls and the struggle to feel beautiful" covers how colorism impacts the way they see themselves, and how that's compounded by the lack of representations of dark-skinned women as beautiful in their communities and in media.
The girls said the absence of dark-skinned role models in TV and movies can lead to feelings of inadequacy.
"It feels like I'm not valid," Abe said about colorism in Hollywood casting. "Not seeing yourself represented can feel really damaging."
The girls hope their podcast will create a safe space for their peers to discuss colorism and challenge pre-conceived beauty standards.