Grand Saline, Texas, a town east of Dallas, has a history of racism, a history the community doesn’t talk about.
So Young So Pretty So White lifts the curtain on the topic of skin bleaching, which is often shrouded in secrecy.
Chanelle Aponte Pearson was awarded the euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Directors “Live the Dream” grant for the narrative series 195 Lewis, her directorial debut. Her film So Young So Pretty So White delves into the practice of skin lightening. She also produced the critically acclaimed feature film An Oversimplification of her Beauty, which… Show more premiered in the New Frontier section of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and won the 2012 Gotham Award for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.” As chief operating officer, Chanelle also oversees the management and operations of MVMT, a Brooklyn-based film production company. Show less
Terence Nance is a performance artist, filmmaker, musician, photographer, and faculty member of the MFA in Film at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In 2014, he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts. His first feature film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, is an IFP Narrative lab alumnus and premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film… Show more Festival and went on to play at over 50 film festivals worldwide. The film’s critical success prompted the New York Times to name Nance one of “20 Directors to Watch,” and Filmmaker Magazine named him one of “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” He is developing his second narrative feature, The Lobbyists. He’s also co-directing a verité film on global skin bleaching and developing an installation about intimacy called Day. Show less
Jamaica, India, South Korea, Ghana, Thailand, and the United States all have large communities of people who bleach their skin with the aid of over-the-counter cosmetic creams, medically assisted injections, and even household products. Though skin lightening products and services are heavily marketed in many countries, the topic of bleaching is often shrouded in secrecy. The actual act of bleaching generally occurs in the private sphere. It is an intimate act done in the privacy of one’s own home or behind the closed doors of a dermatologist’s office all in the pursuit of public approval, social elevation, or economic gain.
Blending cinema verité with personal interviews, animation, family photos, and archival footage, So Young So Pretty So White delves into the lives of men and women who lighten their skin. From a mother and aspiring actress in Los Angeles, to a young, cashstrapped college student in Bangkok, to a father and street vendor in downtown Kingston, the lure of lighter skin and the challenges to sustain the practice transcends national borders.
The film expands each lens by exposing multinational corporations like L’Oreal, Unilever, and Shisheda who exploit regional discrimination against people with darker skin tones. The use of clever, seductive, aggressive marketing to promote products like “Fair & Lovely” and “White Lucent” have led to a multibillion-dollar industry affecting millions of people across the globe.