Raven Hair, Ivory Skin

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"Lips red as the rose. Hair black as ebony. Skin white as snow."
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Dark hair and pale skin as an indication that a character is beautiful. In Western culture, this is a once-dead, now reviving trope, thanks to the Goth and Retro movements bringing an increased awareness of this and the 1950s pin-up style regaining popularity. In addition, the vampire fad of the 1990s and 2000s and the rising fear of skin cancer have helped with the resurgence of this trope. This is also quite popular in Eastern media, being the traditional standard of Asian beauty, and the fact that most of the Japanese population has black or very dark brown hair helps. The high contrast also makes for a striking and visually appealing appearance.

Commonly a requirement for the Yamato Nadeshiko type and is also known as the Yamato Nadeshiko look. In fact, a Raven Hair, Ivory Skin Yamato Nadeshiko is a stock character for the Harem Genre.

There is crossover between this look and Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, in the form of attractive Goths, beautiful vampires, and other characters who manage to be both creepy and beautiful.

Contrast Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, where this look is seen as, well, eerie, and But Not Too White. Compare Dark-Skinned Blond, its visual inverse.

And please, people, before adding to this list, consider whether or not the character was clearly meant to be attractive, explicitly stated to be attractive, and/or regarded as attractive by any other characters. Do not add them to this list just because you find them to be attractive.

No real life examples, please; this is a trope about how characters are depicted in media.

Examples of Raven Hair, Ivory Skin include:

Anime and Manga

Arts

  • This trope is quite popular in 1950s pin-ups, and modern women like Rita Von Squeeze have helped bring the art style back to life.

Comic Books

  • Death and Desire from The Sandman qualify (two other members of the Endless have the right hair and skin for it, but Morpheus is extremely gaunt and Looks Like Cesare and Despair is a Gonk); Death was based on a myth (Kabbalistic, I think) in which the Angel of Death appears to the deceased as a woman so beautiful their soul leaves their body in ecstasy, and, being the personification of desire and all, Desire is (supposed to be) the embodiment of perfect androgynous beauty.
  • Domino and Sage from X-Men.

Comic Strips

Fairy Tales

Fan Works

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"Hi my name is Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that's how I got my name) [...] I have pale white skin."

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  • Terra from Convergent Paths is described as dark-haired, fair-skinned, and very beautiful.
  • The young assassin Elandria from the Warhammer 40,000 fanfic Secret War is described as this, even while she's amped up on combat drugs.
  • Before J. K. Rowling revealed his actual gender and ethnicity in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the default fanfic version of Blaise Zabini was a Sicilian-looking girl with, yes, raven hair and ivory skin. This now-forgotten and obsolete Fanon Blaise is probably best exemplified by her appearance in Apprentice Potter and its sequels by "Draco664".

Films

Literature

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... there she stood, raven-haired and violet-eyed, snowy fair and finely fit, as if carved by the gods from a solid block of desire.

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  • The Gemma Doyle Trilogy's Pippa is renowned for her beauty and fits this trope to a T.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's use mixes Author Appeal and, presumably, Celtic notions of beauty, since the Celts (Flanderized as Fiery Redheads) were actually mostly dark-haired and apparently regarded this as the ideal, so most of Tolkien's most important beautiful characters are dark-haired, pale-skinned, and have Gray Eyes. Particularly notable examples include Luthien from The Silmarillion and Arwen from The Lord of the Rings.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: the Qiao sisters were this, and the book plays up that part of the reason Chi Bi happened was that Cao Cao was after them because of this trope.
  • The titular characters of Edgar Allan Poe's Berenice and Ligeia.
  • The Wheel of Time gives us Lanfear, dark-haired, pale-skinned, roughly 6 feet tall, and Evil Is Sexy.
  • Eve Orcaczy from the rather obscure short story Each Man Kills. She's also an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, since she's a vampire, but she is described as exceptionally beautiful.
  • Scarlett O'Hara, the heroine of Gone with the Wind, has black hair and very fair skin.
  • Alice Cullen from Twilight.
  • Melisande Shahrizai from Kushiel's Dart to a T.
  • Many tragic heroines in 18th century Gothic Horror novels are described this way.
  • Yennefer from The Witcher books. She is pale with raven black hair and wears only black and white. Like all sorceresses, she is incredibly beautiful.
  • Irene/Attolia from The Queen's Thief is one (fair skin, very beautiful, dark haired).
  • Inverted in Fairest with Ava, described to have black hair and pale skin, but is ugly.
  • Several of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories use this trope. Many of the women that Conan becomes involved with are described as having dark hair and pale skin, some of the more notable ones being the pirate queen Belit and the slave girl Zenobia.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Septa Lemore is considered "handsome" by Tyrion Lannister.
    • Both Lyanna Stark and Ashara Dayne were apparently dark-haired beauties in their day.
  • In The Dresden Files, all members of the White Court of vampires (who are basically Horny Devils) have this trait.
  • Both Coira and Arpazia in the Snow White retelling White as Snow.
  • Sabriel and Lirael from the Old Kingdom trilogy.
  • Tom Riddle (AKA Lord Voldemort) from Harry Potter had pale skin and dark hair, and was frequently noted to be very handsome before he started ripping out chunks of his soul and putting them in Horcruxes.

Live-Action TV

  • Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl.
  • Marian from Robin Hood.
  • Morgana from Merlin.
  • Gwen Cooper from Torchwood.
  • Jane Margolis from Breaking Bad.
  • Lila from Dexter and Stacie from Hustle, both plated by Jaime Murray.
  • Bay from Switched At Birth.
  • Lady Mary Crawley and Lady Sybil Crawley from Downton Abbey. They get inherited it from their mother, Cora.
  • Abby from NCIS.
  • Jenna Hamilton on Awkward
  • Lana Lang in Smallville has dark hair, possibly of French decent, and in her senior year was voted "Most likely to be a cover girl".
  • Fiona Coyne and her blonde brother Declan are rich. With her dark brown curls she is referred to as a princess and one of the hottest girls at Degrassi school.
  • Firefly's Inara Serra is a Companion, licensed to entertain the wealthy and powerful, who compliment her looks of dark curly hair and fair skin.
  • Chloe in Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

Music

  • This example has black hair, pale skin, blue eyes, and is likening a boy to a constipated monkey through song.
  • In "Goth Girl" by Anthony and Those Other Guys, the main character has a crush on a black-haired and pale-skinned beauty.
  • My Chemical Romance: Gerard Way used to be this. Then he went to white and now bright red hair. Apparently, he's dyed it back to black.
  • The Eagles' song "Witchy Woman": Raven hair/ruby lips, sparks fly from her fingertips...
  • The models seen in those Robert Palmer videos like "Addicted To Love".
  • "Your Lips Are Red" by St. Vincent explicitly follows this this trope, with unsettling deconstructions.

Myths and Legends

  • A male example is Naoise, lover of Deirdre in the Ulster Cycle of Celtic Mythology.
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Deirdre: (After seeing a raven drinking blood out of the snow) I will love a man with hair the color of the raven, skin as white as snow, and lips as red as blood.

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Video Games

  • In Persona 4, Yukiko Amagi is seen as this and gathers quite a fan club because her looks.
  • If someone in Fire Emblem 7 is about to describe a Morph, there's likely three features to be mentioned: "1. Pale skin, 2. Hair like ebony,[1] and 3. Eyes of Gold". Sonia was actually made to be beautiful and to seduce Brendan Reed.
  • In Sengoku Basara, we have Oichi (who was a certified Real Life example) and her sister-in-law, Nouhime.
  • Setsuka in Soul Calibur 3. She's actually a natural blonde, however; she dyes her hair to fit in, in Japanese society.
  • Miranda Lawson in Mass Effect 2 is much paler than most inhabitants of the Mass Effect universe, has jet-black hair, and is regarded as extraordinarily attractive.
  • Slightly odd example in Dragon Age 2: in the game, Cassandra Pentegast is slightly darker-skinned than is typical, but in Dawn of the Seeker she's got almost white skin and jet-black hair.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VIII: Rinoa Heartilly is the palest-skinned and darkest-haired of the three women in the party.
    • Ditto Tifa, Dagger, and Lulu.
    • Final Fantasy VII: Vincent is a male example, with long black hair and white skin. Also somewhat subverted as Yuffie has black hair and pale skin, but is not particularly thought of as beautiful.
  • Zhen Ji from Dynasty Warriors.
  • Two of the five princesses depicted in the second Dark Parables game have this; of course, one of them is Snow White.
  • Ashei, the lady knight in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, has the physical characteristics of this trope, but whether other characters consider her beautiful is never stated.

Web Original

  • Amusingly averted by Weiss Schnee of RWBY, who despite being based on Snow White is a platinum blonde. Her teammate Blake Belladonna, however, fits the trope to a T. (Ruby Rose would, too, except for the reddish highlights in her hair.) Among the adults in the cast, siblings Qrow and Raven Branwen, although Qrow displays some premature grey.

Western Animation

  1. but it really looks purple