The beauty of human skin in every color | Angélica Dass
Articles,  Blog

The beauty of human skin in every color | Angélica Dass

It has been 128 years since the last country
in the world abolished slavery and 53 years since Martin Luther King pronounced
his “I Have A Dream” speech. But we still live in a world where the color of our skin
not only gives a first impression, but a lasting one that remains. I was born in a family full of colors. My father is the son of a maid from whom he inherited
an intense dark chocolate tone. He was adopted by those
who I know as my grandparents. The matriarch, my grandma, has a porcelain skin and cotton-like hair. My grandpa was somewhere between
a vanilla and strawberry yogurt tone, like my uncle and my cousin. My mother is a cinnamon-skin
daughter of a native Brazilian, with a pinch of hazel and honey, and a man [who is]
a mix of coffee with milk, but with a lot of coffee. She has two sisters. One in a toasted-peanut skin and the other, also adopted, more on the beige side, like a pancake. (Laughter) Growing up in this family, color was never important for me. Outside home, however,
things were different soon. Color had many other meanings. I remember my first
drawing lessons in school as a bunch of contradictory feelings. It was exciting and creative but I never understood
the unique flesh-colored pencil. I was made of flesh but I wasn’t pink. My skin was brown,
and people said I was black. I was seven years old
with a mess of colors in my head. Later, when I took my cousin to school, I was usually taken for the nanny. By helping in the kitchen
at a friend’s party, people thought I was the maid. I was even treated like a prostitute just because I was walking alone
on the beach with European friends. And many times, visiting my grandma or friends
in upper class buildings, I was invited not to use
the main elevator. Because in the end, with this color and this hair, I cannot belong to some places. In some way, I get to used to it and accept part of it. However, something inside of me
keeps revolving and struggling. Years later I married a Spaniard. But not any Spaniard. I chose one with the skin color
of a lobster when sunburnt. (Laughter) Since then, a new question
started to chase me. What will be the color of your children? As you can understand,
this is my last concern. But thinking about it, with my previous background, my story led me to make
my personal exercise as a photographer. And that is how Humanae was born. Humanae is a pursuit
to highlight our true colors, rather than the untrue white, red, black or yellow
associated with race. It’s a kind of game to question our codes. It’s a work in progress
from a personal story to a global history. I portray the subjects
in a white background. Then I choose an 11-pixel
square from the nose, paint the background, and look for the corresponding color
in the industrial palette, Pantone. I started with my family and friends, then more and more people
joined the adventure, thanks to public calls
coming through the social media. I thought that the main space
to show my work was the Internet because I want an open concept
that invites everybody to push the share button
in both the computer and their brain. The snowball started to roll. The project had a great welcome — invitations, exhibitions, physical formats, galleries and museums … just happened. And among them, my favorite: when Humanae occupies public spaces and appears in the street, it fosters a popular debate and creates a feeling of community. I have portrayed more than 3,000 people in 13 different countries, 19 different cities around the world. Just to mention some of them — from someone included in the Forbes list, to refugees who crossed
the Mediterranean by boat. In Paris, from the UNESCO
Headquarters to a shelter. And students both in Switzerland
and favelas in Rio de Janeiro. All kinds of beliefs, gender identities or physical impairments, a newborn or terminally ill. We all together build Humanae. Those portraits make us rethink
how we see each other. When modern science
is questioning the race concept, what does it mean for us
to be black, white, yellow, red? Is it the eye, the nose,
the mouth, the hair? Or does it have to do with our origin, nationality or bank account? This personal exercise
turned out to be a discovery. Suddenly I realized that Humanae
was useful for many people. It represents a sort of mirror for those who cannot find
themselves reflected in any label. It was amazing that people started to share
their thoughts about the work with me. I have hundreds of that, I will share with you, too. A mother of 11 years — A mother of an 11-year-old girl wrote me, “Very good for me as a tool
to work on her confidence, as this past weekend one of her girlfriends argued with her
that she does not belong and should not be allowed
to live in Norway. So your work has
a very special place in my heart and it’s very important for me.” A woman shared her portrait
on Facebook and wrote, “All my life, people from across the globe
had difficulties to place me in a group, a stereotype, a box. Perhaps we should stop. Instead of framing, ask the individual, ‘How would you label yourself?’ Then I would say, ‘Hi. I’m Massiel. I’m a Dominican-Dutch, I grew up in a mixed family and I’m a bisexual woman.’ ” Besides these unexpected
and touching reactions, Humanae finds a new life
in a different variety of fields. Just to show you some examples, illustrators and art students using it as a reference
for their sketches and their studies. It’s a collection of faces. Researchers in the fields of anthropology, physics and neuroscience use Humanae with different
scientific approaches related to human ethnicity, optophysiology, face recognition or Alzheimer’s. One of the most important
impacts of the project is that Humanae was chosen
to be the cover of Foreign Affairs, one of the most relevant
political publications. And talking about foreign affairs, I found the perfect
ambassadors for my project … teachers. They are the ones that use Humanae
as a tool for educational purposes. Their passion encourages me
to go back to drawing classes, but this time as a teacher myself. My students, both adults and kids, paint their self-portraits, trying to discover
their own unique color. As a photographer, I realize that I can be a channel
for others to communicate. As an individual, as Angélica, every time I take a picture, I feel that I am sitting
in front of a therapist. All the frustration, fear and loneliness that I once felt … becomes love. The last country — the last country in the world
who abolished slavery is the country where I was born, Brazil. We still have to work hard
to abolish discrimination. That remains a common practice worldwide, and that will not disappear by itself. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you.


  • Ahmed Eltahan

    Prophet Muhammed – peace be upon him – says : "O people , your God is one and your father is one , there is no distinction between arabian or Foreign , red or black , except for priety ( Fearing from Allah and doing his orders) " .. 1437 years ago.

  • TimmacTR

    Useful idiot of the international globalist elites..

    Melting pot destroys colors, if you want colors, you should advocate for countries being able to choose for themselves and not be forced to accept melting pot culture that doesnt work anymore..

  • roya baxshaliyeva

    humanae is so adventurous project because of valuing all of the people. differing people because of their colour is not a true factor!

  • White Phoenix of the Crown

    Can't we all agree that what she said is 100% right? That she has every right to say what she/some pple feel!??? U pple r sick, sick pple don't hv any color, they r just ill. ✌🏽️✌🏽️🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸🇴🇸🇴🇸🇴✅✅💖💖


  • mlhma youtube

    "لا فرق لأعجمي على عربي الا بالتقوى" 🙄
    صدق رسول الله صل الله عليه وسلم 💞

  • b12 o

    She has turned being a poor oppressed person of colour into a lucrative profession. Remember what they say "the goal of abolishing the white race is so desirable only white supremacist oppose it."

  • Sarah Y

    Very inspiring, thank you. I can show this to my adopted child to teach them about the different races and skin tones. I was bullied about my skin colour when I was younger and it affected me throughout adulthood so this is so important to me. I never want anyone to feel like they are not beautiful in their own skin.

  • Robbert van Oosten

    Sadly, Angelica, the world is not a beautiful place. If it's not the colour of skin that is the problem or issue, there are a 1000 more reasons one likes to dominate, rape or kill another person. Your kind of activism is welmeant but it does not help anything change.
    The only hopes we can have lies in evolution that makes us humans a mature species thats stands above primitive mindsets.

  • 김지현

    Wow. It really touched me. And I think we have to stop discriminating too. We are living in same space , called The Earth , and worrying about same thing such as how to earn more money , how to protect own family , how to make own life happy ect.
    After all , we are all same. Just we have some different appearance thing.

  • Sophia Sydorenko

    I wish one day nobody will think about "breed" and it's quite boring to live in one-colored society. It's more inspiring to see people with different types of faces, hair, skin color.

  • Ariane Borges

    Eu já tinha ouvido falar desse projeto, tanto que achei muito interessante, pois ninguém sabe definir minha cor (sou branca demais pra ser morena e morena demais pra ser branca, e ainda assim não sou morena clara), é estranho de explicar e não faço ideia de qual seria minha cor (tenho que misturar maquiagem pra chegar na cor) e tenho a pele neutra (não é quente nem fria) . Quando era mais nova era mais morena e hoje mesmo tomando sol todo dia não consigo mais ficar da cor que ficava quando mais nova. Sou assim por que sou uma mistura de etnias diferentes. Muito orgulho em saber que foi uma brasileira que fez esse projeto. Nossa, quanto orgulho!

  • Sofi Barrios

    I got a heart
    And I got a soul
    Believe me I will use them both
    We made a start
    Be it a false one, I know
    Baby, I don't want to feel alone

    So kiss me where I lay down
    My hands pressed to your cheeks
    A long way from the playground

    I have loved you since we were 18
    Long before we both thought the same thing
    To be loved and to be in love
    All I could do is say that these arms were made for holding you
    I wanna love like you made me feel when we were 18

    We took a chonce [An alternative for the word 'chance'. Commonly used by One Direction's Niall Horan]
    God knows we tried
    Yet all along, I knew we'd be fine

    So pour me a drink, oh, love,
    Let's split the night wide open and we'll see everything
    We can livin' love in slow motion, motion, motion

    So kiss me where I lay down
    My hands pressed to your cheeks
    A long way from the playground

    I have loved you since we were 18
    Long before we both thought the same thing
    To be loved and to be in love
    And all I could do is say that these arms were made for holding you, oh
    And I wanna love like you made me feel when we were 18

    When we were 18
    Oh, Lord, when we were 18

    Kiss me where I lay down
    My hands pressed to your cheeks
    A long way from the playground

    I have loved you since we were 18
    Long before we both thought the same thing

    To be loved and to be in love

    And all I could do is say that these arms were made for holding you
    I wanna love like you made me feel when we were 18
    I wanna love like you made me feel when we were 18
    I wanna love like you made me feel when we were 18

  • luisa humphrey

    This is powerful, unfortunate though that she starts her presentation saying that slavery was abolished 128 years ago – it pretty common knowledge that slavery still exists in many countries today.

  • shirley cuffee

    Cease and desist all skin color talk. Nature gave it to all animals for camouflage in our environments. Modern society no longer needs it. We wear clothing. Of course future people could mutate to gray to match city buildings. It was not meant to be discussed.

  • shirley cuffee

    If you really believe in 'race' you must get a caliper and proceed to measure human bones. You must also know which numbers apply to which race. Begin with prognathism.

  • Mimit Primyastanto

    21. And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.

    22. And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Verily, in that are indeed signs for men of sound knowledge. (Q.S. 30 : 21-22)

  • Sanjana Gurjar

    Wow she had a strong accedent. ………..i also ike very fair color 🙈🙈well , ur idea and the pitures was amazing👏👏

  • Nat Teft

    Disliking certain races is absolutely valid and legal. There is no law to forbid people to like different races, its a common sense.

  • Cringe Talks with Abby

    She's so cute ! All I did was smile while watching this. I'm really inspired. thank you, Angélica Dass. This was great <3

  • kendal AG

    Its a uniqe idea but i want to ask a question.. that to see only these pictures can change the mind of the people ?? its a fact that humans adopted that fair is beauty and dark is dirty i am also belong from a dark skin complexion and i had seen myself that people attracts only of fair colour. You can not stop to believe that dark colour is more good than fair colour , the best example is the advertising of thousands of beauty products which claims of beauty using fair skin people because its a fact that whiting colour carried more charming effect rather than dark colours…

  • Nick Pop

    It is important to share such knowledge to the world and have most people know it. I believe that racism will reduce and there will be more social justice and peace in the world if people understand the science behind the evolution of skin colors and the genetic differences between humans. Our skin color and features are the result of thousands of years of evolution and the place of origins of our ancestors. No one chose the skin color or the physical features they have. This is what racists should understand and think about before acting on racism. Black people were the first humans to evolve and African black people are the most genetically diverse. We are all humans.

  • Aytach Agaeva

    Her point is that we're all different and unique and that people shouldn't treat someone bad just because of the skin color. Beautiful speech, greeting from Russia

  • Malena Ribeiro


  • Anara Jacksylyk

    Через сотни лет мы все перемешаемся и станем цвета кофе с молоком и вы перестанете наконец комплексовать и ныть по поводу того, что вы черные.

  • DrAL00isin

    Yes I am going a little political because I'm past tired of being told white people are racist because of their DNA. We all share more DNA than chimps do, skin color is not race, we all trace back to a common ancestor, so if I have a racist gene so does everyone else regardless of skin color. Race is made up, we just happened to have evolved different levels of pigmentation. This is why I also joined the #walkaway movement to get away from identity politics that is obsessed with skin color and race, and has gone radical and beyond reason in the democrat party.

  • Shinibo

    I find her photography fascinating, and I always thought each skin tone has it's own unique beauty. I hope her work can open all peoples eyes to that truth too.

  • headrat1

    Angelica Dass explores pantone skin tone in a brilliant way as a more accurate description of the diversity of skin color. Calling people black, white, red or yellow is racist. Got to look at your color crayons because the entire way we are taught about color is based in false colors. When is there a white person? Show me one. Show me a black person. You can't! The racism is in the very language we use to describe skin tone and we describe colors that do not exist in reality. This is the racial gaslighting of the state. If you call someone black, white, red or yellow you have a perception deficit disorder because you are describing a color thats not physically there. Same with the term people of color. How can color be co-opted or owned. If someone has lighter skin tone is that not a color? Sure it is. So technically every human being that exists today is in the group people of color as everyone has color. Tell me what color the term people of color includes or excludes.

    The movie shaft deconstructed the delusion of skin color back in the 1970's!

  • Agnès BILLAT

    Merci pour votre travail Angelica. Les ségrégations sont immorales, inintelligentes et inhumaines et pourtant si puissantes en flattant la proportion des hommes à rechercher pouvoir et domination. J espère que les générations futures seront plus sages nourries par votre démarche. Vos photographies sont tellement parlantes noir blanc jaune ou que sais-je n existe pas nous sommes tous différents de nuances et c est notre richesse !

  • Aleksey Alexej

    Again, blacks demand respect and love for themselves, talking about racism and skin color. I am against violence, I like dark skin. But! You prove with your intellect and your culture that you are human! You have no less rights than whites. But employment and crime statistics are always against you. Why?
    Worn with this slavery as an icon… But this is not the white colonizers invented slavery! They took advantage of it, slavery in Africa already existed. When the colonialists arrived in Africa, slavery was common there. The negros themselves caught others and sold them to the white colonizers as a commodity.

  • Effie Yu

    I had tears in my eyes when the last paragraph ended. Thank you! I believe there will be more and more colors in every country. 👍

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *