Why do you look more muscular and toned as your skin gets darker?


Why do you look more muscular and toned as your skin gets darker?

In: Biology

Theres better contrast on your skin when you tan, so all the shadows are more visible and create the illusion that you’re more toned.

This honestly sounds like a question for artists more than biologists, but that’s just my perspective. You register contours through light and shadow. If the surface is too white, you can’t see the highlights and shine clearly. If the surface is too dark, you can’t see the shadow. The brighter the light source, the more washed out pale skin becomes, the darker you want your tan to be to appear in that goldilocks range.

You’ll notice that bodybuilders on stage tend to not look “tan”, but rather a metallic “bronze”. It’s a color/texture that looks completely unnatural, but serves to both (1) light enough that shadows stand out, (2) dark enough that light reflection stands out and (3) extra glossy to over-emphasize those contours.

For reference, look at [this picture of a glossy black car](http://www.hdcarwallpapers.com/walls/lamborghini_black_concept-wide.jpg). Compare that to [this picture of a similar matte black car](https://i.pinimg.com/736x/36/48/79/364879e2f136b85d6015d72c5de7ce35.jpg); the contours almost disappear because the reflections are gone, and it’s the wrong lighting and color for shadows to stand out. Compare that again to [this similar glossy orange car](http://www.4usky.com/data/out/87/164783900-sport-cars-wallpapers.jpg) where now the lights reflect clearly adding that level of contour, and the shadows are also clearly visible.

I’ve personally yet to see a person with skin so dark that shadows aren’t visible in spotlight or sunlight conditions, nor so matte that light reflections don’t emphasize curves. I would guess that on the human scale, darker = more pronounced shapes.