Chapter 19: Sun Kissed or Sun Cursed?; Exploring Color Consciousness and Black Women's Tanning Experiences

The glow of sun-kissed skin, especially during winter months, has come to symbolize health, wealth, and luxury in some cultures. Yet Black women’s skin tanning practices have been strangely and largely unexplored in the study of hair/body politics. Given the status society assigns to light skin, why would a Black woman—light, brown, dark, or somewhere in between—intentionally expose her skin to the sun for the purposes of darkening or deepening her skin tone? To address this question and others three themes are analyzed that emerge from interviews conducted with five female participants who are self-described sunbathers. Findings have critical implications for Black hair/body politics both as a lived experience and as an area of study.