The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 129–138

India’s Color Complex: One Day’s Worth of Matrimonials


DOI: 10.1007/s12114-016-9233-x

Cite this article as:
Utley, T.J. & Darity, W. Rev Black Polit Econ (2016) 43: 129. doi:10.1007/s12114-016-9233-x


Lighter skin complexions may function as a form of capital, particularly for women, in marriage markets. The existence of a preference for light skin for marital partners is an index of the presence of colorism or color bias in a given society. This paper reports on a detailed examination of marital advertisements that appeared in India’s Sunday Times on a single day in March 2013. It asks how often skin shade is mentioned in the advertisements placed among those seeking grooms and those seeking brides, how those mentions are distributed by the reported age of the prospective marital partner, and the type of language used to describe the individual’s complexion. The study finds that skin shade is described far more often in advertisements placed by prospective brides or their families than prospective grooms or their families, and, whenever complexion is mentioned, the possession of lighter skin shades.


Stratification economics Skin shade Colorism Racism Marriage markets Marital advertisements Gender Gender bias Patriarchy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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