In Germany and many western countries a healthy tan (not the overdone "coin-mallorca" one) is regarded as quite attractive. I guess the reason is that it means you have the money to go on holiday to a nice and sunny destination. Historically, being tanned was often not regarded attractive because it signified that you belonged to a lower class. Only farmers and street merchants had to work outside where their skin would get darker from the sun. To appear more "noble", people even practised skin whitening by applying (often lead-based) powders.
Today, on the other hand, there is a whole tanning industry at work providing us with a more or less fake tan. Tanning spray, self-tanning lotion, showers, tanning beds... I know there are also people out there who tan for health reasons and I'm not talking about that.
The text under "self tan" says "wonderfully even tan without sun".
When I was in India, the situation was absurdly reversed. Darker people were regarded much less attractive. My pretty bland skin color over here was suddenly regarded very nice. This shows also when you look at posters of Bollywood stars: with some you can hardly tell they are not white.
So, cappucino/very light brown is the answer for everybody? Nope, that'd be too easy. Here's an ad for snow white. Not as funny, but interesting:
It might have been a coincidence but on my tour through the north of India my driver was of a very dark shade, his sister with a university degree as a teacher on the other hand was a lot lighter. My driver and I had trouble communicating as he barely spoke English and I almost no Hindi. I understood, however, that he repeatedly talked apologetically about his own dark complexion and told me about his pretty sister.
I wonder how much of that is coming naturally as a desire for what is rare or has a certain luxury connotation (being able to afford holidays or belonging to the ruling class) and how much is industry, getting us to feel bad so we buy stuff we wouldn't otherwise.
After all this I enjoyed hearing about the operation beautiful campaign where you leave affirmative messages in public. I found one of the handwritten "you are beautiful" notes once and it really made my day. Have a try; I will start taking some post-it notes with me from now on, so I can add a touch of feel-good here and there (as a teacher having post-its is always handy anyway).
I also like this charity project that helps young black girls explore beauty through photography. I think there needs to be a bigger effort to counteract the influence of advertising.
My reader "Onelovelygurl" was so kind as to remind me of the Dove campaign to show more natural women in advertising. Of course, these were also digitally manipulated, but it is a step in the right direction.
Do you know about any campaigns that make a change by supporting inner beauty ?