While it’s true that skin lightening is a common and despicable tool that photo manipulators use to make brown people look more white (and therefore more “relatable” and “commercial”, at least as far as closeminded white people are concerned), it’s also true that skin lightening is a comprehensive process. After all, you can’t forget that someone is Black if half of them is white and the other half of them is brown. And that’s what’s going on here. Beyonce’s face, arms and decolletage are washed out, but her hips and thighs are the same rich brown that they’ve always been.
And that indicates to us that there’s no foul play going on here. The photographer probably got his lighting kit too close to Beyonce’s upper half and washed her out a touch too much. And we get that that won’t be a good enough explanation for some people who see the ad and cry wolf — some may even see it as a pathetic excuse for an abhorrent practice designed to make people with brown skin look like something they’re not. And at face value, that’s exactly what happened.
But we don’t think that was anyone’s intent with this photo. Beyonce has never been more herself or more in control of her image than she is right now. This album, 4, is probably one of the most revealing personal statements of an album than any other released by a pop star in the last year — and that’s because Beyonce was in control of all of it. And we just don’t think she would lie about herself to promote something so real by altering the way she looks.