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Raven Hair, Ivory Skin

"Lips red as the rose. Hair black as ebony. Skin white as snow."

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 current vampire fad 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 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 Haired, Ivory Skinned Yamato Nadeshiko is a stock character for the Harem Genre.

There might be 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. Sometimes this look can be seen as too eerie, and emphasised as 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.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Butler: Sebastian has pale skin contrast to his black hair and attire, and that's part of the reason why he has so many admirers. The implied ability to change his gender (with female form being more 'dangerous' and something he looks ashamed of) is not helping.
  • Black Jack: one episode featured a strong example of this — Souno, a young girl from an old and rather traditional Japanese family, who had been kept indoors all her life due to suffering form a debilitating disease that would cause her life to drastically shorten if she was exposed to sunlight (as well as killing her off before she turns 18 even if she avoids it). She's spent most of her life in a sealed room, practicing Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, under the watch of her very severe Overprotective Dad; thus, Souno is perfectly pale, with perfectly black hair, and a perfectly exquisite face...a beauty in a bottle. (Remember, the "Nadesico" part of Yamato Nadeshiko refers to a particular type of flower — probably a deliberate parallel) Fortunately, Doctor Blackjack is there to help — along with his lively assistant, Pinoco, who strikes a really cute Inter Generational Friendship (sorta) with Souno and gives her the courage to get the treatment she needs.
  • Blood+: Diva has pale skin and raven-black hair, and is described by one character as "the most beautiful and dangerous woman."
  • Card Captor Sakura: Syaoran's mother Yelan Li. She has pale skin and raven-black hair, and both Sakura and Tomoyo are awestruck when they meet her, commenting on her beauty.
  • Kill la Kill: Satsuki Kiryuin has pale skin and long, jet black hair. She's considered quite beautiful among the students, but of course they're probably too afraid of her to say anything. Takarada outright calls her a "babe".
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
    • Negi is awestruck when he accidentally spies on Setsuna in the bath, because of her incredibly pale skin and raven-black hair. Chamo even refers to her as a Yamato Nadeshiko due to her looks! She later turns out to be a Heroic Albino; her hair is dyed to fit in better.
  • Kyouya from Ouran High School Host Club, has pale skin and dark hair. Like most of the members of the host club, he is considered extremely handsome by a lot of female students.
  • Naruto:
    • Sasuke, like his mother Mikoto, has black hair and fair skin. He is also very handsome. A number of female characters have compliment his looks.
  • Boa Hancock of One Piece has long, black hair and fair skin, and is considered to be the World's Most Beautiful Woman.
  • Sailor Mars of the Sailor Moon anime series is often referred to as the most remarkable-looking Sailor Senshi, with her pale skin and dark hair.
  • Kaede Rukawa of Slam Dunk is incredibly pale with black hair and handsome. Ironically, he tans the easiest out of everyone.
  • Rea of Sanka Rea has pale black hair and pale white skin. The latter being because of her zombification. Despite this she is considered beautiful by the boys in her school.
  • Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist, like all of the homunculi, has pale skin with contrast her black dress and hair. Despite possessing the abilities to turn her fingertips into extremely sharp extendable blades her most dangerous attributes is her cunning and beauty which she uses to manipulate men into doing what she wants.
  • Bleach
    • In-universe, Unohana appears to be, and is viewed as, the perfect example of the Yamato Nadeshiko. She has raven black hair that is always neatly bound, pale, flawless skin and carries herself with quiet grace and dignity. Word of God has confirmed she is Soul Society's most beautiful woman. When she lets down her hair to unleash her inner Ax-Crazy Blood Knight personality she transforms into an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette instead. Word of God indicated she was deliberately designed to display a shocking contrast between the two faces of her personality.
    • Byakuya Kuchiki is one of the highest ranked noblemen in the story, and has the classic looks to go with it: perfectly groomed raven black hair and pale, flawless skin. The Shinigami Woman's Institute regularly votes him as the Mr. Fanservice of Soul Society.
    • Yumichika Ayasegawa, with his pale skin and raven hair, is well-known, notorious even, for both his beauty and his obsession with beauty. Although he is genuinely one of the best looking and most fashionable male shinigami in Soul Society, his biggest fan is actually... himself.
    • Mizuiro Kojima is small, dark-haired and pale-skinned. He's considered to have the face of an angel and is viewed by women as incredibly cute. In fact, he's a Chick Magnet. He deliberately exploits this to get older women to fall for him and look after him so that he doesn't have to look after himself.
  • Homura of Puella Magi Madoka Magica has silky black hair and pale skin. There's a lot of impressed gasping when she first walks into the classroom, and Sayaka comments on how beautiful she is.
  • Mikasa Ackerman from Attack on Titan is half-Asian among a Germanic population, and as a result her black hair and fair complexion are quite striking. The first time Jean sees her, he's momentarily struck speechless by her beauty and can barely manage to ramble awkwardly about how pretty her black hair is.
  • InuYasha: Kikyo is black-haired and pale-skinned, and several characters consider her beautiful.

    Arts 
  • This trope is quite popular in 1950s pin-ups (Bettie Page, while not exactly pale, had raven-black hair), and modern women like Dita Von Teese 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.
  • X-23 is most commonly drawn with fair skin and black hair (particularly during her solo series). When Miss Sinister/Claudine Renko decides to steal her body because of its Healing Factor, she expresses satisfaction that she'll also be getting a very attractive new body as an added bonus. Later on while masquerading as a waitress to get close to an agent of Malcolm Colcord, one of the other employees at the diner comments on how hot the "new girl" is.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Snow White, the "fairest of them all" princess. In the Brothers Grimm version, when her mother was pregnant, she injured herself while sewing, and thought that red blood looked great combined with ebony and snow, and she wished to have a girl with lips red as blood, with hair black as ebony and with skin as white and pure as snow.
  • If the heroine of a European fairy tale doesn't have golden hair to emphasize her innocence, she will probably have gorgeous black hair and pale skin to emphasize her beauty.

    Fan Works 
  • Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way from My Immortal.
    "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."
  • Terra from "Convergent Paths" is described as dark-haired, fair-skinned, and very beautiful.

    Films 
  • Amélie from Amélie. She has raven bobbed hair and her skin is very pale (this look is enhanced on posters and media covers). She's treated as a very pretty girl, though her beauty isn't emphasised.
  • The main character, Margot, of La Reine Margot is paler than anyone else in the film with very dark hair. Margot is widely considered a beautiful but poisonous woman, enchanting men with her looks even when they know better than to get involved.
  • This colouring is a must-have for any live-action re-telling of Snow White:
    • The heroine of Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Monica Keena, a natural blonde, dyed her hair black for the film. Visually, the beautiful princess Lilliana fits the trope perfectly. As a contrast, her step-mother is a woman with lightly-coloured hair.
    • Snow White & the Huntsman stars dark-haired Kristen Stewart as Snow White. She's considered the fairest in the story, though some viewers considered it an Informed Attribute. Her Evil Stepmother, queen Ravenna, was a tall, impressive blond beauty with icy look.
    • Mirror, Mirror has Lily Collins as Snow White. The Queen says this about Snow White's looks: "Her hair isn't black, it's raven. And her skin has never seen the sun, so of course it's good.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Arwen, being the most beautiful woman alive, has dark hair and pale skin (as in the book).
    • Frodo is a male version of this trope, as he is a Pretty Boy with pale skin and dark hair as far as the film adaptations are concerned. In the books, hobbits are more pleasant-looking than beautiful. Then again, Frodo is explicitly described as fairly good-looking for a hobbit.

    Literature 
  • Fool: in this Perspective Flip retelling of King Lear, Pocket describes Lear's daughter Regan:
    ... 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.
  • Isa, from Only Echoes Remain is a gorgeous goth girl despite being homeless on the streets of an alternate-universe version of Chicago. This is entirely the result of her being a mystical being created by a precocious teenage sorceress who designed her to meet or exceed her own standards of beauty. White-pale skin, very, very long night-dark hair, and a flawless face and body were her gifts to her creation—along with a true form that is effectively a demonic manifestation of darkness and death.
  • The Gemma Doyle Trilogy's Pippa is renowned for her beauty and has dark hair with "an ivory face that could be from a cameo pin".
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's use mixes Author Appeal (his wife Edith was a fair-skinned brunette) and, presumably, Celtic notions of beauty, since the ancient Celts (flanderized as Fiery Redheads) were actually mostly dark-haired and apparently regarded this as the ideal — thus most of Tolkien's most important beautiful characters are dark-haired and pale-skinned, with gray eyes. For one thing, most elves look this way, and elves are always tall and more beautiful, more healthy, and more physically perfect than is humanly possible. Then some elven characters stand out for their especially emphasized dark-haired-pale-skinned beauty — Lúthien in The Silmarillion, the most beautiful woman in the world who also happens to be half-angel, and partly based on JRRT's wife; and her part-human Heinz Hybrid descendant Arwen in The Lord of the Rings, who's reportedly the second-most beautiful woman in the world.
  • The protagonist Phèdre nó Delaunay and antagonist Melisande Shahrizai of the first trilogy of Kushiel's Legacy. Phèdre describes her skin as being "a perfectly acceptable shade of ivory" and her hair as "sable-in-shadows." Melisande is described as having alabaster skin and hair so black that it gleams blue under light. Being D'Angeline they are automatically beautiful, but even among D'Angelines Phèdre is a highly desired courtesan and Melisande is regarded as being one of the most beautiful women alive. The kind of beautiful that inspires people to write poetry about her.
  • 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).
  • In The Dresden Files, all members of the White Court of vampires (who are basically Horny Devils by another name) are black-haired and pale-skinned, which they use to its greatest vampish potential whenever possible. Partly because of their natural beauty and partly because of their inhuman charm, they turn heads wherever they go. Being vampires, they can also cross into the eerie variant with ease.
  • Both Coira and Arpazia in the Snow White retelling White as Snow alternate between this and Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette depending on how creepy they are at the moment. Both women are acknowledged to be very beautiful—Arpazia before she somehow becomes a thirty-year-old crone and Coira after she turns eighteen and comes into her own—but the mother's flares of temper and the daughter's talent for complete stillness and silence frighten people to the point that their beauty almost isn't worth it.
  • In Harry Potter, Tom Riddle 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.
  • There's the princess Thayet jian Wilima of the final Song of the Lioness. "Her face-particularly her nose-was strong boned; her hazel eyes were deep-set under even brows; her chin was determined. Her mouth was naturally red, accented by ivory skin. She wore her jet-black hair pulled into a knot." She's considered the World's Most Beautiful Woman.
  • Lena, a Greek teenager, of Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants is told that she is beautiful but she doesn't like it because she feels like that's all anyone notices. She has long dark hair and "celery-green" eyes. The fair skinned Alexis Bledel was chosen to play her in the movie.
  • In Bride of the Rat God, Christine is described as having a "raven coiffure", and a face that can become "a small white triangle" when she huddles into the huge collar of her black sable coat.
  • Bridge to Terabithia has the music teacher Miss Edmunds who is described as having long swishy black hair and blue, blue eyes. She was absolutely gorgeous. The fair skinned Zooey Deschanel was chosen to play her in the movie.
  • Jane Fairfax of Jane Austen's Emma has dark hair, eye-lashes and eye-brows, and her complexion is fair and delicate without being pale. She is considered a great beauty. Frank Churchill describes her looks as associated with noble ladies.
  • Dark hair and pale skin in a trait that runs in the Halsing family in Summers at Castle Auburn. Elisandra, combining this coloring with her mother's delicate features, is a celebrated court beauty. Corie, though rougher around the edges, also cleans up well and has many suitors when she is old enough for the marriage market because of it. For inhuman characters, the aliora queen Rowena is so pale as to be almost white of skin with black hair. Other aliora regard her as being the epitome of their race in beauty.
  • Lissar and her mother in Deerskin have this coloring. The queen was celebrated throughout seven kingdoms as the most beautiful woman in the world, particularly for her black hair with red hints. Lissar, her daughter, greatly resembles her mother as she grows older. That resemblance is unfortunately her undoing when her father decides to marry her for it.
  • Any time Sano notices a particularly lovely woman in the Sano Ichiro mysteries, he will note her pale skin and dark hair, as he did when he first saw his wife Reiko. This is the standard of beauty in the series, and one that women will go to desperate lengths to achieve and maintain. Older women, most notably the shogun's mother Keisho-in, apply layer after layer of white makeup to their faces and/or dye their hair black to try to maintain a youthful look.
  • Zmeya in The Orphan's Tales. A king who is about to kill her and her fellow priestesses can't help but notice her flawless pale skin, dark hair with green hints, and large black eyes. She is so beautiful that he not only doesn't kill her, but he takes her as his wife, that day, and with the conditions she sets.
  • Isabelle Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments is very beautiful, with pale, clear skin and long dark hair.
  • Anna Karenina:
    • Anna's skin is said to look as though carved in old ivory, with a beautiful face, throat and shoulders, and rounded arms with tiny, slender wrists. She has black curly hair. She's extremely beautiful, graceful, eager, happy and healthy.
    • Anna's brother Stiva Oblonsky has a handsome, radiant figure, sparkling eyes, black hair and eyebrows, and in his white face, there was something which produced a good humour in the people who met him.
  • A short story note  in Queen of the Sacred Way: A Devotional Anthology In Honor of Persephone has Theseus describe Persephone like this.
    His voice betrayed him: all he could do was stare at Persephone on her throne. Her hair was black like the raven's wing. Her flesh pale as sun-bleached bone. Her lips red and moist like the pulp of a pomegranate - or freshly spilt blood. The curves of her body were barely contained by the thin fabric of her gown. She was more beautiful than any goddess or mortal he had ever laid eyes on - and she terrified him like no monster he had ever encountered before.
  • Anita Blake has dark brown eyes, black curly hair, and very pale skin. Her vampire lover Jean-Claude even comments that she is almost as pale as he is. In Burnt Offerings she mentions wearing bright red lipstick because her appearance is already one of strong, contrasting colors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Merlin:
    • Morgana, definitely considered beautiful (along with a Ship Tease with Arthur in season one), is very pale-skinned and dark-haired.
    • Merlin himself may be a male version.
      Barmaid: Mmm, you're an handsome fellow.
      Arthur: Well, just wouldn't be the first to say it.
      Barmaid: Oh. No, sorry. I was talkin' about your friend here.
      (Looks suggestively at Merlin.)
      Arthur: (shocked) Him?
      Merlin: (smirking at Arthur) Thank you.
  • Lila (Jamie Murray) from Dexter, Dexter's psychotic girlfriend from season 2 has black hair and extremely pale complexion. Angel describes her as a perfect porcelain doll and says that with skin like hers, she should stay outside the beach and sunshine. Dexter's sister Debra offers a different perspective. She says she's pale like a fucking corpse, and compares her to a vampire several times.
  • Stacie from Hustle, played by black-haired and pale Jaime Murray. Men admire her and a new-comer Danny immediately starts crushing on her. She sometimes plays an exotic beauty in their scheme and she's occasionally required to Show Some Leg in order for them to succeed in the con.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • Lady Mary Crawley is a Proud Beauty with fair skin and beautiful long black hair.
    • The Downton matriarch, Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, is still very attractive. Her two beautiful daughters take after her — she is pale-skinned with raven hair.
    • Jane Moorsum, the maid, qualifies as well. She is a brunette with pale skin and piercing blue eyes, and Lord Grantham likes her looks and personality so much that he starts an affair with her.
  • With her dark brown curls and fair skin, Fiona Coyne is referred to as a princess and one of the hottest girls at Degrassi school.

    Myths & Legends 
Unlike Snow White this does not turn out at all well.

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 4, Yukiko Amagi has fair skin and long black hair. She gathers quite a fan club because of her looks. Her name means Snow in Japanese.
  • 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 (though it really looks purple), and 3. gold eyes". Sonia was actually made to be beautiful and to seduce Brendan Reed.
  • 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.
  • Zhen Ji from Dynasty Warriors depending on the installment is depicted with dark hair and very pale skin. She's also bewitchingly beautiful as many character, including her, like to note.

    Western Animation 
  • Yumi Ishiyama of Code Lyoko. Further reinforced by her first Lyoko avatar, which gives her white facepaint, Japanese-style. Ulrich, William and Johnny certainly considers her quite attractive.
  • Asami from The Legend of Korra, like most people of the fire nation has dark hair and pale skin. She's also stunningly beautiful, causing Mako to fall for her hard the first time he sees her.


Eerie Pale-Skinned BrunetteBlack Index, White IndexSalt and Pepper
Eerie Pale-Skinned BrunetteHair ColorsTall, Dark and Handsome
Patriotic FervorCyclic TropeReal Women Have Curves
Rasputinian DeathAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Reality Ensues
God Save Us from the Queen!ImageSource/Animated FilmsSong of the South
Proud BeautyThe Beautiful TropesRequisite Royal Regalia
Pretty BoyAdministrivia/Pages Needing Example ContextRebellious Princess
Race FetishAttraction TropesRight-Hand Hottie
Purity SueImageSource/InternetRight Under Their Noses

alternative title(s): Raven Hair Ivory Skin Beauty; Ivory Skin Raven Hair; Black And White Beauty
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