REBEKAH DEVLIN OUT OF THE BOX
IKNOW my grammar isn’t always perfect, but heck, some things are as obvious as the nose on your face. My grandpa used to be a stickler for it. He lived in country Victoria and was always calling ABC radio to complain about its mispronunciations. His bugbear was hour: It’s not owwere, it’s (h)our.
He died nearly nine years ago, but I still picture him at the pearly gates giving grammar lessons.
This doco opens with the line: There’s a story that’s never been told before, the one written in the colours of the skin.
Grrr, before is superfluous, it makes sense just never been told. This rubbed me up the wrong way for the first five or so minutes, as did the obvious nature of their research.
Pen State University head of anthropology Professor Nina Jablonski’s goal was to see if she could confirm that skin colour is related to sunlight . . . well, thanks, captain obvious.
Eventually though, this doco does stumble into interesting ground, talking about why pigmentation occurs.
It turns out, it’s all about folate, which is vital in reproduction for men and women. The West once accepted the theory that darker-skinned indi-
Skin science: Nina Jablonski. viduals were not as intelligent as white folk — an abhorrent stance by today’s standards. Turns out that white skin is a mutant of darker skin.
White skin developed because people needed vitamin D, and when we migrated from Africa and settled in cooler climates, we no longer needed in-built sunscreen to protect us, so our skin became lighter.
Australia rates a big mention in this — it was an Aussie who realised the importance of folate in preventing birth defects.
Not only does this doco try to uncover the science behind pigmentation, it also tries to break down the social inequalities surrounding skin colour . . . a noble quest. And for that, I will forgive them their grammatical stumble. Skin Deep SBS One, 8.30pm