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Colourism: a global adolescent health concern

Craddock, Nadia; Dlova, Ncoza; Diedrichs, Phillippa C

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Nadia Craddock

Ncoza Dlova


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Colourism, a form of prejudice and discrimination based solely upon skin colour, stands to jeopardize the physical health, wellbeing and life chances of adolescents of colour, globally. RECENT FINDINGS: Research shows that adolescents can experience colourism at school and college, in the criminal justice system, at work and in the media they consume. It is therefore unsurprising that adolescents of colour often express a desire for lighter skin tones and/or are dissatisfied with their skin tone. Although research is scarce, some studies include older adolescents in their samples of skin-lightening product users. This is significant as the evidence is clear that the unmonitored use of skin-lightening products can be harmful to physical and psychological health, with evidence linking skin-lightening use to skin damage, kidney failure and depression. SUMMARY: Although it is evident that colourism is central to the lives of adolescents of colour, more research is needed concerning the use of skin-lightening products among adolescents. Media literacy and critical race theory offer avenues in helping attenuate the harmful impact of colourism for adolescents of colour.


Craddock, N., Dlova, N., & Diedrichs, P. C. (2018). Colourism: a global adolescent health concern. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 30(4), 472-477.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Apr 30, 2018
Publication Date Aug 1, 2018
Deposit Date May 16, 2018
Publicly Available Date May 8, 2019
Journal Current opinion in pediatrics
Print ISSN 1040-8703
Electronic ISSN 1531-698X
Publisher Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 4
Pages 472-477
Keywords colourism, body image, skin colour, skin-lightening, adolescence, public health
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author's accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:


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