Ash-coloured whiteness: the transfiguration of Aishwarya Rai

Goldie Osuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper seeks to discuss the matrix of elements that enable the transnational circulation of Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood actress and former Miss World, in the context of embodied notions of gendered beauty and skin-colour. Reading beauty contests, advertising campaigns and blog sites, this paper explores how representations of Rai's beauty and skin-colour appear to resonate with investments in an aesthetics of whiteness, which govern gendered notions of beauty especially in Western locations. This paper addresses the following questions: How is an Indian cosmopolitan femininity as represented by Aishwarya Rai circulated and transfigured in a transnational context? How do racialised ideals of white beauty shift as well as entrench, include and exclude 'multicultural' 'cosmopolitan' femininities? How do transnational discussions of the privileging of light skin in the Indian context transfigure the politics of race, skin-colour and whiteness?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-123
Number of pages15
JournalSouth Asian Popular Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • race
  • ethnicity and whiteness studies
  • south asian popular culture
  • bollywood
  • transnational cultures


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