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Looking for Love in All the White Places: A Study of Skin Color Preferences on Indian Matrimonial and Mate-Seeking Websites

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A preference for light skinned females is a global bias that affects all areas of human relationships, especially in marital mate selection. Further intensified by the meteoric rise in Internet dating and mate selection, this bias often serves an invalidating function for darker-skinned women. This study (1) analyzed profiles and preferences of brides and grooms (N=200), and (2) coded success story wedding photos (N=200) posted on four Indian matrimonial websites. Results showed an overwhelming bias among males for brides lighter-skinned than themselves. Males were also more likely than females to state a preference for skin color in their prospective brides, and to use qualitative words like beautiful and lovely to describe their preferred match. Most significantly, the success story wedding photos consistently had lighter-skinned brides than grooms. Dark-skinned women were almost non-existent in these success stories. This research points to a technology-abetted intensification of colorism. That is to say that the powerful profile menu options and the visual imagery of predominantly light-skinned, successful brides illustrated on current websites visually reinforce the invalidation of dark skinned women.
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Keywords: Colorism; Indian marriage market; Internet matchmaking; Skin Color; Technology and women

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Seattle University.

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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  • Studies in South Asian Film and Media (SAFM) is the most promising new journal in the field. This peer-reviewed publication is committed to looking at the media and cinemas of the Indian subcontinent in their social, political, economic, historical, and increasingly globalized and diasporic contexts. The journal will evaluate these topics in relation to class, caste, gender, race, sexuality, and ideology.
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