PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – “I remember someone said, you stayed in the oven too long.”

Those are just one of the several comments made by women in a new documentary by actor Bill Duke, called Dark Girls, due to come out this fall. It explores the idea that dark-skinned black women are treated differently compared to light-skinned black women. One girl explains how she felt when she overheard her mother bragging to someone about how she looks.

“She’s got great cheekbones, she’s got great lips and she then adds, can you imagine if she had any lightness in her skin. She’d be gorgeous.”

“These issues come up all the time,” said local psychologist Dr. Cheryll Rothery. “And often the story begins in childhood.” Dr. Rothery, says attitudes about dark-skinned verses light-skinned are generational, going back to slavery. “The field slaves were darker skinned and the house slaves were lighter skinned,” said Dr. Rothery.

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“We need to counter those negative mainstream messages and we also need to say they’re standards of beauty don’t have to be our standards of beauty,” Rothery added.
Dr. Rothery is one of several psychologists who emailed Psychology Today last month about a study on their website that said black women are physically less attractive than other women. The study, done by a professor in London, has been taken off the Psychology Today website, and an apology was issued.

“It’s still pretty offensive,” said Teaneck New Jersey resident Nicole Donaldson.

For more information on Bill Dukes film go to: or

Reported by Jericka Duncan, CBS 3

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