Takara Allen was outraged to say the least when she was told by a man on Tinder that she should consider bleaching her skin because “you’d look so pretty if you were whiter”.
But what the 22-year-old, who is mixed race and identifies as black, didn’t expect, was to be met with a furore of racist comments, death and even rape threats on social media after sharing her experience.
The makeup artist’s Instagram page and professional email address have been inundated with messages of hate after she outed her Tinder date by posting screen shots of his texts.
Takara, who says she was devastated by his remarks, explains in an Instagram post: “It can be very nerve wracking and intimidating to speak up about certain things and to take a stand against racism.
“I've still been receiving quite a large amount or racist messages, death threats, and the typical 'you're not even black' messages which I'm unfortunately used to.”
She tells SBS, “The worst kinds are people just slut shaming me for absolutely no reason and calling me a hypocrite because I wear coloured contact lenses and straighten my hair when they clearly don't understand that eye colour and straight hair are not race specific.
“People just seem to be getting outraged purely for the sake of getting outraged, like this whole situation doesn't affect them in the slightest.”
Racism is something Takara has had to live with since her family moved to Adelaide when she was a child.
She says, “I've had a lot [of experience with racism]. Not so much in America, but when I first came to Australia my brother and sister and I were called n*****s on a daily basis.
“We had people make monkey noises at us and we actually ended up in a lot of fights after standing up for ourselves and each other. A lot of things are said here [in Australia] that people don't realise are actually quite racist.”
The skin bleaching comment was a particularly uncomfortable one for Takara who regularly sees ads for products promising to brighten and lighten skin tones on the premise that it would make you more desirable.
As recently as 2011, skincare giant Dove came under fire for a promotional poster that placed a darker skinned woman underneath a “before” sign and a lighter skinned woman beneath the “after”, implying that their product could morph one into the other.
Meanwhile in many South Asian cultures, the unrealistic mentality of “the fairer the skin the better”, has led to an explosion of skin-lightening creams.
Thankfully for Takara, however, she hasn’t only received negative remarks; she's also found support online from people who can relate to her experience.
“There's been mainly positive comments with people being able to relate to what happened,which is really nice to see, although unfortunate that so many have experienced similar things to me,” she tells SBS.