Vit, vacker, värdefull:en kvalitativ studie av vithetsideal och dess betydelse på Bali, Indonesien.
Using interviews and observations, this qualitative study examines the value of bright and white skin in Bali, Indonesia, and how this correlates to social and economic status. The study uses a postcolonial framework to discuss the topic, but it also shows the need for a more contextual understanding of the phenomenon. Using Bourdieu’s theories of capital, I argue for how white skin in Indonesia can be understood as a form of symbolic capital, an important asset for achieving other forms of social, economic, and cultural capital. The paper starts with an introduction to the history of this value, showing the pre-colonial and traditional idealization in Indonesia, further reinforced and restructured as a result of Dutch and Japanese colonization, as well as an import of Western media. After introducing my theoretical framework, I will present my material, gathered from observations and interviews in both Bali and Sweden. The results show that beauty ideals regarding white skin are still strong and important in Bali, resulting in a discriminatory colorism, affecting people’s employment, self-esteem, and social relations. Furthermore, the study shows that these ideals affect women and men differently and that women are more judged by their skin.