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A phenomenological study of the experiences of workers who are born with a light-skin complexion: a case of Mindset Design Company Durban branch, South Africa.

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The major purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of the natural lightskinned employees who work at Mindset Design, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The specific objective was to determine the advantages and challenges of those who are light-skinned by birth. The study employed the qualitative research design to generate comprehensive information about the stories and personal experiences of the participants of the study, regarding their condition of being born light-skinned. The participants for the study were selected using the criterion purposeful sampling technique, in which only those who were born light-skinned and have maintained that condition without the use of bleaching tones were included in the study sample. Following this criterion, participants selected for the study were individuals who were light-skinned and worked at Mindset Durban branch, in KwaZulu-Natal. An in-depth interview technique was used to gather data for the study. The data generated were analysed through the application of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and thematic analysis. The study established that being light-skinned does lead to positive life experiences. The positive experiences that the participants reported included those of being given preferential treatment as children and adults; being given less harsh punishment in school, compared to their counterparts who are dark-skinned; and being awarded positions of leadership in school and finding that they were favoured in the workplaces. However, while the study participants, overall, reported enjoying positive experiences as a result of their being born light-skinned, the balance of the findings also showed that in addition there are some challenges that those who are born lightskinned also do experience. These challenges included the problem of feeling like not belonging associated with the infuriating problem of name-calling; and for male participants being treated as not being man enough, as well as the need to constantly prove that one is good at what one does. Implications of these findings were drawn and some recommendations for enhanced policy and further research were made.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.