Conversations with Georgia: Different Colours

Reading Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, the second chapter talks about race and why we really should be talking more about the variations in our skin pigmentation more with our children.

I suppose it hit home, although I do have a lot of comments and opinions to add to that chapter, from personal experience growing up in a fluid multi-cultural society (read: Malaysia). So anyway, I thought I’d ask 5-year old Georgia, why she thought people have different skin colours. The conversation went like this.

Me: G, why do you think people have different skin colours? You know, like some people are really fair and some people are really dark.
G: Well, it’s because they get more sun and some people get less sun.
Me: Oh?
G: Like you know, in Malaysia, people are darker and there’s more sun than people here.
Me: Gosh, that’s a logical explanation….

Boy, we’ve got some explaining to do 😉

© 2011, Li-ling. All rights reserved.


  • Although adaptation to the environment, way back when, possibly did have something to do with the amount of sunlight our bodies can use/need. Our boys have opened up a lot about their ideas on ethnicity since I read Nurture Shock too.

    • After hearing that, I tried to explain that, she was probably right, way back when, but that migration has a lot to do with it currently. It helps a bit, that we’re Chinese, but from Malaysia, and we now live in the UK, so there has already been a family history of migration.
      It’s the whole idea of the continental shift, with evolutionary pigmentation that confuses her I think. It’s does help that loads of people here dye their black….Time for another post I think 😉
      Thank you for sharing.

  • Wow, I imagine that is a confusing conversation to have! But clever Georgia! My grandfather is Chinese, my grandmother a mix of Indian and African. My other grandparents are a mix of French and African and Scottish and African. All of us are from the Caribbean. Skin colour wasn’t something we really talked about growing up. Diversity was just a part of life.

    • Wow! What an amazing heritage! Kinda explains the Saree for your wedding dress – I did wonder 😉

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