Is India Arie truly loving the skin she’s in? I can’t think of any other artist or celebrity whose skin tone is tied so significantly to what they do and who they are. The realization of that fact struck me a few days ago, as I read about the brouhaha over the image from India’s new single, Cocoa Butter . India sports a hot bronze and black mini against a bronze background. Her skin glows golden brown instead of her usual dark cocoa. Questions fluttered throughout the Internet whether India succumbed to the “lure” of skin lightening treatments. She is the example for all women who refuse to subscribe to society’s standard of beauty. Didn’t she write Brown Skin, I Am Not My Hair and Video? The very thing that I think kept India from winning any of her seven Grammy nominations in 2002, is the very thing that makes her an icon: The unapologetic embracing of her brown skin and all that goes with it. It is what keeps us waiting patiently for her occasional hit singles. And to think she would renege on what is true. What a profound betrayal that would be, and an irreversible screw-up of her brand.
What she sings, how she sings, Who she is, right down to that mahogany skin is what we identify with. This is India’s brand equity. It defines her image in the minds of her fans and admirers. Can skin tone be so important that it becomes not only the person but the persona? I thinks so. Just like logos have a consistent style code e.g. specific colors, font, size, etc. So does one’s image. That person is a walking logo. In India’s case, her hair, features, and yes the tone of her skin, has always stayed congruent to the message in her songs. Straying from that, ruins her brand.
- Who is your target?
- What do you stand for?
- How do you communicate that message to the “who”?
India’s brand has enjoyed a point of distinction, that has stayed consistent throughout her career. India’s brand has been successful because it’s authentic. Altering any of it is disrespecting the brand…and us.
I know this sounds silly but one “color-of-skin-as-a-brand” example that comes to mind just as strongly is the Grinch, if his green turned beige, that would ruin his whole grouchy Seuss-y vibe.
India Arie quickly squashed that nasty rumor with a laugh via Twitter and Facebook. Here is what she wrote on fb:
Love to all #SoulBirdsWorldWide are you ready for this #SongVersation ?
Personally speaking! I’m happy to say I have NOT BLEACHED my skin LOL! ROTF at the thought.
1. I wouldn’t endanger my health that way
2. i’m so in love with myself I have no DESIRE to BLEACH myself. Lol
3. The GLOW you see IS (magnificent) lighting
4. THE LIGHT you see, Well thats all ME!!
Politically speaking racism/colorism in the black community is a MUUUUUUUCH larger #SongVersation #skinversaton
THAT I’d LOVE to “shed light on”..that conversation IS REAL, …let’s keep talking. #SongVersation #soulbirdsworldwide
Big love to ALL #soulbirdsworldwide
Do you think the skin bleaching rumor damaged India Arie’s personal brand?