All it takes is a bright flash or lighter foundation to send the skin bleaching rumor mill into overdrive. India.Arie learned the hard way when she released the artwork for the first single off her new album “Songversation,” entitled “Cocoa Butter.”

The artwork shows India.Arie posing against a brown wall in a purple head wrap and printed jacket. Some feel the singer, who is known for promoting inner beauty and self love, looks several shades lighter than her normal complexion. Skin bleaching rumors abound, and people are concluding that India.Arie must not be happy with her God-given skin color. The thinking goes if she did truly love herself, why would she use skin bleaching/makeup/lighting to appear lighter?

Rapper Rhymefest even joined the chorus of speculators, saying “It’s not the lights, even if it’s make up! Why India Arie!? This isn’t You! Please tweet her and ask her why…I hope her music sells I like her message but lookin like Alicia Keys isn’t the way nothing’s wrong with dark skin.”

I don’t know India.Arie from a can of paint but I highly doubt she’s bleaching her skin. She seems like one of the few artists that practices what she preaches when it comes to self-acceptance. I doubt she would succumb to the dominant culture’s limiting notion of beauty when she’s been so vocal about defining beauty for oneself.

Her representatives addressed the claims via TMZ calling the criticism ridiculous and attributing her lighter skin to the angle and camera flash.

Whether the claims are true or not, she now joins a growing list of artists from Dawn Richards to Beyoncé, who have been accused of skin bleaching. It’s hard to tell if a skin lightening trend is really afoot in the industry or if the public is just obsessed with speculating on whether our favorite celebrities have indulged. What do you think, Clutchettes?

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  • J. Gail (@Author_JGail)

    I work with professional photographers and they will tell you that it’s the lighting and camera/color settings. A dark skinned woman may look different under certain lights. I seriously doubt my girl India would play herself by bleaching that beautiful complexion.

  • Rae Rae

    I don’t think she bleached her skin. However, i wished she would’ve been mindful of the finished product. India Arie is known for her positive songs/voice as well as her beautiful confidence & brown skin. She is still my role model, and I will chalk this up as an innocent mishap.

  • Apple

    “How dare she allow them to lightening her photo ! She’s a disgrace to black women!” -if this was beyonce/Rihanna/etc

  • J. Nicole of UrbanExpressive

    I too doubt she’s bleaching her skin. I don’t know how much say or input she has on the finished product, but it would have been a good idea to release a pic closer to what she looks like.

    But in this day & age, I don’t put anything past record execs & managers who like to stir up controversy and could have leaked it w/out her knowledge.

  • J. Gail (@Author_JGail)

    I agree, I doubt she had much control over the creative process for the cover. Sometimes artists do, sometimes they don’t

  • Mademoiselle

    The conversation I think people keep missing with all this skin lightening outrage is why, in 2013, can’t these camera & lighting manufacturers get their products right?! I know I’ve been in many pictures where I wonder how in the world the camera was able to flawlessly pick up my lighter friend, yet turn me into either a black blip or a an apparition of myself. I blame this all on the camera makers. They obviously put A LOT of time into getting their product just perfect for taking pictures of lighter people and objects, even getting rid of red eye, and detecting blinking. But how much work are they putting into capturing true color and true light across the entire spectrum? When a camera takes a picture, the picture shouldn’t need to be edited, touched up, or fixed at all. I think part of the problem is photo editors can’t always rely on the camera to get it right, and in the process of “fixing” things, they end up going all the way left and “fix” the model’s race right out of the picture. I wouldn’t be surprised if India’s pic got lightened because the camera couldn’t pick up the subtle change in brown from the backdrop to her skin well enough to look good in print.

  • Amber

    I agree with all the comments above. I think there is an obsession/paranoia when it comes to camera lighting/angles and accusations of bleaching skin, especially as it pertains to people who are already naturally light-skinned i.e. Beyonce & Rihanna . And I think it mostly comes from people who don’t know anything about photography and its many tricks and tools. I’m not a photographer (I’m an iphone-ographer) but I’m also not ignorant of what can happen when the flash is bright lol. Same thing that would happen with anyone else’s camera: you look lighter.

  • Tonton Michel

    Don’t believe she would go that route.

  • ScriptTease

    I’m sorry black folks, but my photos are rarely the same damn color. Some lighter, some darker. Some days regardless of photos or not, my skin tone changes. Now I don’t see how lighting will make a difference with your natural skin tone. If you’re in a darker light, you will appear darker, a brighter light, you will appear lighter. BLACK PEOPLE and damn color…. and hair. You can’t regulate every damn snapshot that comes out over the web. I guess the best thing to do to keep black folks happy is to tell those photographers from the start…. “darken my skin tone please, I don’t want people talking.” Some people it’s obvious they are trying to change, like the Dawn Richards chick.

  • myblackfriendsays

    “I don’t know India.Arie from a can of paint but I highly doubt she’s bleaching her skin. She seems like one of the few artists that practices what she preaches when it comes to self-acceptance.”


    I think Barack Obama is a good example to show that black people’s skin can look different in different circumstances.

  • LMO85

    Thank you for this, I have actually heard Black actors say this, that the camera/lighting folks don’t know how to capture darker skin on camera, which is absolutely ridiculous but I don’t know why would we expect anything different living under the Supremacy. Like anything else, people need to be more vocal about this to enact change.

    On the other hand I wish people would get a clue. Just like the seasons change, our skin tones change with the weather, lighting effects, make up, the color we have on, etc. etc. I wish folks would really get over this “everybody is doing the skin lightening” conspiracy.

  • gmarie

    The skin bleaching police never seem to have anything to say to the paper bag police.

  • shawn

    That’s not make-up, that’s not lighting. That is editing. Her skin has seemingly been lightened through post process by the photographer. But obviously, the photographer was given the go ahead. Although, photographers often employ several filters and adjustment layers on top of an image without thinking how this affects the subjects skin…. only with black people, it’s more noticeable. Caucasian skin never comes under this type of scrutiny. There are many times Caucasian celebrities skin have been altered to be whiter, or more tan with no consequence or afterthought through this process. But the black community is obsessed with the skin color of black celebrities and will take notice. This comes from a professional, black, photographer. *the problem could have been fixed with the use of masks over the adjustment layers…. which is to say… an easy fix.*

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i am a photographer. i got photoshop.
    i can make you any tone that i like.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    it is NOT the camera. it is the person operating the camera.
    i have been imaging black people for decades. not a problem.
    i can pretty much make you look however i want you to look.

  • Urban Actors (@UrbanActors)


  • aaliyah10

    Yeah the double standards are crazy when it comes to certain artist. I think every black woman feels pressure to be lighter in Hollywood. It’s not right but I understand it

  • aaliyah10

    Wow, she’s showing a lot of leg too, I wonder if she’s going for a more sexier image this time around?

    *Doubt she’s bleaching her skin

  • z

    @ Apple

    sorry for not shutting up and letting you enjoy your priviledge like you would want.

    p.s. you have issues.

  • Angie

    “new artist”???? As new as Alicia Keys & Beyonce! Where you been????!!!!
    I, myself, turn many different shades of brown throughout the year. Darker in summer, lighter in winter. But I’m still Black!

  • CeeCee

    She looks the same to me (shrugs).

  • jamesfrmphilly

    she has responded with this statement-

    Personally speaking! I’m happy to say I have NOT BLEACHED my skin LOL! ROTF at the thought.

    1. I wouldn’t endanger my health that way

    2. i’m so in love with myself I have no DESIRE to BLEACH myself. Lol

    3. The GLOW you see IS (magnificent) lighting

    4. THE LIGHT you see, Well thats all ME!!

  • Marisa

    If this is lightening why the hell do they light up all these black celebs like this, it doesn’t even look natural with India. They do it with Beyoncé too and she’s already light skinned as is. The photo shopping is out of control too but this lightening stuff is ridiculous. India has gorgeous skin tone to begin with this makes her look like she has the flu. We get it mainstream/white media the message you been sending we been hip to along time ago. What’s funny is the lady who wrote the song “Brown Skin” is okay with this to the point she put it on her websites, is the one person who I felt would call out this type of touching up.

  • Sharon Lowd

    Spoken like a true professional.

  • Sharon Lowd

    Man, are we hard on each other! Take three steps forward and someone will kick you back four steps.

  • mr.fierce

    beautiful woman…

  • MommieDearest

    *rolls eyes*

  • Tsaun

    I could’nt agree more, there is always to much of a microscope on every little change a sista makes. Live and let live. If someone is bleaching theirselves they need time on the couch but I think its safe to say the pic was just lightened and not India’s doing….

  • Tsaun

    My thoughts exactly. Take a chill pill everyone;-))

  • Tsaun

    Give me a break!

  • choklitgirlwonder

    I’m sorry, but I still call BS. As someone who is dark-skinned (pretty much the same complexion as India) and who has worked as a stylist assistant on shoots, ain’t no amount of flash gonna take you from Nina Simone to Lena Horne. This is straight Photoshop. How many professional photos have we seen of her that her skinned isn’t lightened beyond recognition? I’m no fan of Beyonce, but folks were all up in arms about her being lightened for those L’oreal ads. But people are saying THIS is believable?! Stop the madness.

    This is what India looks like:

  • KissOfDanger

    We’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  • KissOfDanger

    Finally! Some reason. People are making mountains out of mole hills.

  • afrotastic

    I agree. She would have had final sign off of the artwork. So she must have known what the cover would look like. But still did nothing.

  • afrotastic

    She would have had final sign off. It’s her album.

  • Anon

    Exactly. All of these “skin bleaching” reports keep coming from darker skinned black women who are lashing out at being rejected by the majority of black AA men. So anytime there is a change of season, someone has not been out in the sun for a while, or has a photo-shoot with bright lights, it must be “skin bleaching” that caused the change in shade.

    Newsflash… MOST AA’s ARE NOT the darkest of black people. REAL TALK. We tan noticeably for the most part, and it doesn’t take much. All you have to do is have winter, and the vast majority of AA’s go much lighter. “Skin bleaching” is just a way to by-step how hurt some darker skinned black women are by not being represented in the media in desirable ways. But give it a rest already. The cultures that actually do this in numerous ways (Asians, S. Indians, some folks in the Carribean) don’t get called out anytime a celebrity appears in a brightly lit photo.

  • MarSeeUh

    she obviously had to approve this cover before it went out sooooo why didn’t she say something? why let the cover go out to the masses when you know you are several shades brighter?

  • 1BlessedNatural

    I agree. I do not think she bleached her skin. It’s probably a combination of lights and Photoshop. I think the move to publish the photo was done on purpose to get people to talk. Publicity.

  • 1BlessedNatural

    I do not think she bleached her skin. I think her skin tone in the photo is a result of lighting and Photoshop.I believe the move to publish the photo was on purpose for publicity

  • Kiki

    If I saw that picture on its own some where. I would not have recognized her AT ALL! It is not just the lightened skin, they did something funny to her face.

  • Kiki

    I can look lighted or darker in my photos too, but you can still tell its me. That photo does not even look like her.

  • No_chaser

    Okay, enough with all the speculation. Where is Ms. Arie? I’m sure she has lots of album promoting to do, and I would love to see her in an interview addressing this issue. Now, if she looks like the “new” Sammy Sosa, then we’ll know what’s up. :-/

  • Cocochanel31

    Artists have to see the photo outtakes before they are published. The real question becomes, WHY WOULD SHE ALLOW THEM TO POST THESE PHOTOS WHEN THE LIGHTING AND SKIN POWDER HAS HER LOOKING ALL KINDS OF CRAZY!????

    Did she not see that the lighting was off! I expected more from Ms. Arie, I’m sorry the self hatred has gotten to her too, especially after all these years smh.

  • Cocochanel31

    But yet she okayed this cover with the bad lighting?? smh.

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