Colorism Inside Modern Magazines | Teen Ink

Colorism Inside Modern Magazines

March 8, 2023
By mzeltser BRONZE, New York City, New York
mzeltser BRONZE, New York City, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Are racism and colorism the same type of discrimination? No. Colorism is the discrimination against a certain individual because of their dark skin tone, while racism is the discrimination towards an individual or community because of their racial and ethnic identity. 

There are many examples in our society, where people with lighter skin tones are focused on more in texts and images than people with darker skin tones. This causes there to be a lot less skin tone diversity, specifically in magazines. Colorism has affected our world by creating insecurities, biases, and unfair technological advancements for those who have darker skin.

Something that I have learned from my learning experience of colorism is how invisible it can sometimes be. When my class first started to learn what colorism was and where it is currently being found, it took me close to a week to identify where colorism was. 

My class and I focused on colorism inside magazine articles and ad images. When I first scrolled through some of the magazines, I thought there was nothing wrong with them. Then, my teacher explained to my class and me what colorism was. After learning about colorism and the many ways of finding it, I decided to go back into the same magazine and scroll through it one more time. 

This time, I began to realize the low amounts of skin tone representation in the images. That was the moment I began to rethink all the moments in my life when I thought there was “nothing wrong”. This applies to my class’s study because it is trying to show others how invisible and effective colorism can be. Colorism may be invisible at first, but that does not mean we cannot change that.

The story of this data is that there is a lot more light skin tone representation in ad images. In the two-way table labeled: “Percents – Breakdown by Skin Tone”, it is shown that 60.8% of all light skin tone representations in the data photos are in ad images. 62.6% of all ad images are light skin toned, while in articles, only 32.7% of all their images have a light skin tone, as shown in the two-way table named: “Percents - Breakdown by Context”. Overall, these percentages show there is not a lot of skin tone diversity throughout the magazine’s ads.

Some takeaways from our data are that there is a decent amount of skin tone representation in article images, but not a good amount in ad images. The reason for this is that articles are not trying to target specific demographics, while ads almost all the time need to target specific demographics because otherwise, certain products will not sell as well for them. 

This study could have been biased because my class was given limited options of magazines that we could collect our data from. This means that the chosen magazines could have been filled with less skin tone diversity, compared to if we chose other magazines. In general, there could have been much more different results from our data if my class was not limited to certain magazines.



Works Cited

Food and Travel, Fall 2021, Accessed 2 Feb. 2022.

Forbes, 01 August 2021, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.\

National Geographic Expeditions, 2021-22, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Noronha, Simone. “Ilhan Omar Is Tackling Colorism. Here’s Why That Matters.” New York Times, 30 Sep. 2021, Accessed 7 Mar. 2023.

People Magazine, 27 February 2017, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Play: The Official PlayStation Magazine, 01 September 2021, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Sports Illustrated, 01 December 2021, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Vogue Magazine, 01 October 2021, Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.



Two-way table data: 

The author's comments:

This article was very interesting for me to write about. I found new information, new concepts, and new data. I am very grateful for the opportunity to publish this work.


Here is a link to my article with relevant photos:

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.