Skip to main content

Is Beauty White Skin Deep?

After three months of watching Philippine television, it was difficult not to miss the numerous ads on skin whitening. I’ve been aware of these in the past but it seems that all the famous cosmetic brands are now embracing this national obsession to be fair skinned.

"When it comes to whitening, I trust only one name", proclaims a young, fair skinned model. Her ad is just one of many that claims their cream or lotion has “Power whitening”, “Whiter skin that stays”, “Star white skin", and "White radiance intensive whitening cream, closer to perfect fairness". A popular soap star who promotes a whitening cream reminds viewers that the "batok" (back of the neck) and the "siko" (elbow) must also be white.

According to some of these ads, papaya and calamansi (of the lime family) are ingredients that help skin turn white and stay white. Even armpits have to be white. It is no longer enough that you use deodorant to get rid of the “baboy” (pig) in your underarms. Women specifically, must show white armpits in case they raise their arms in public. Otherwise, they’ll stand to lose their boyfriend or bevy of admirers.

One ad I remember from a few years back was of a young bride-to-be who was worried her skin was not white enough to wear a white wedding dress. In Western countries, Caucasian women love to sunbathe to get that healthy tan before donning that white dress. White skin in a white gown projects a ghostly image while tanned skin glows with a white outfit.

It’s obvious that there is a stigma attached to brown or dark skin in the Philippines. As they discussed in a popular morning TV show recently, young men prefer women with white skin. The beautiful and ‘kayumanggi” actress, Angel Aquino, defended the brown skinned woman who she says grows on men the more they observe her. Another point made by a white skinned panelist of the same show is that when a brown skinned woman sweats, she is more dirty looking than a fair skinned woman who perspires as profusely. Really?!!!

Growing up healthy and brown in the Philippines, I was always the object of teasing by classmates who called me “batok” meaning burnt in Ilonggo. I’ve also heard people say that I’m “beautiful but too dark” and I’m “bright but brown”. I’m never just beautiful or just bright. People always qualify their remarks by saying “maitim siya” (she's black). I guess I should accept the complements with grace and serenity.

There’s no doubt that opposites attract and many Filipinas with dark skin buy these products that promise whiter skin. They can’t be blamed because in a society where white skin is emulated, even the poor people do what they can to have white skin. My maid bought body powder she saw advertised on TV and applied this to her face so she could look white without realizing how funny she looked.

A young woman I spoke to at the beauty parlor told me she uses these whitening creams regularly or goes to a skin whitening clinic. She was not aware how susceptible her newly peeled and thinned skin is to the sun's harmful rays and skin cancer. And it's pretty hard to avoid the harsh sun in these islands where the sun shines nearly everyday.

Is beauty really white skin deep only?

* * *

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Carlos "Botong" Francisco, A Nation Imagined

Carlos "Botong" Francisco, FILIPINO STRUGGLES THROUGH HISTORY Oil on canvas, 1964, (located at ManilaCity Hall) A National Cultural Treasure owned by the City of Manila
Carlos Botong Francisco: A Nation Imagined is the latest art installation at the AyalaMuseum in Makati to celebrate the 100th birthday anniversary of Carlos “Botong” Francisco (1912-1969), a Philippine National Artist. Forty paintings and lithographs were culled from various private collections to form this exhibition. Of the large scale paintings on display, Maria Makiling and Fiesta, both oil on canvas, are representative of the indigenous genre which Botong loved to portray. In Maria Makiling, Botong reveals a relaxed and recumbent woman with her legs dangling in the cool waters of the stream and playing with an exotic deer by her side. Fiesta is about how the Filipino people gather to celebrate an important occasion, be that a religious feast or a wedding. The central figures are dancing the tinikling, a po…

Tinapa Spring Rolls

Tinapa Spring Rolls
I've read and heard about tinapa spring rolls but have never tasted one. So on a stopover in Manila recently, I decided to try these much talked about "lumpia" appetizers with a twist. MESA at Greenbelt 5 in Makati serves these lettuce wrapped delicacies. I could smell the tinapa (smoked fish) as the waitress approached my table.  I dipped the roll in the vinegar sauce and mmmm, what a delight! I've missed eating tinapa, tiny fish with bronze skin you can peel open intact. The tinapa meat is delicious but it has bones. There were no bones in the tinapa rolls I tasted. The kitchen must have deboned the fish first before making them.

This plateful of tinapa spring rolls is only P140.00. And it's a generous serving for one person. There is also tinapa fried rice on the menu.  I didn't try it because I ordered palabok (a noodle dish) instead.

Palabok
To make the tinapa spring rolls, try the recipe from the link below:
http://www.yummy.ph/recip…

Sonnet of Sweet Complaint - Federico Garcia Lorca

Lorca's house in the outskirts of Granada
Today I gave a travel presentation at work about Spain and I included this sonnet from one of Spain's greatest poets/playwrights, Federico Garcia Lorca. It's full of visual imagery which not only gives the reader the ability to see what he's written but it also leads the mind of the reader in search of meaning.

Sonnet of Sweet Complaint
Never let me lose the marvel
of your statue-like eyes, or the accent
the solitary rose your breath
places on my cheek at night.
I am afraid of being, on this shore,
a branchless trunk, and what I most regret
is having no flower, pulp, or clay
for the worm of my despair.
If you are my hidden treasure,
if you are my cross, my dampened pain,
if I am a dog, and you alone my master,
never let me lose what I have gained,
and adorn the branches of your river
with leaves of my estranged Autumn.

The original Spanish version below is from
http://www.poesia-inter.net/fglso107.htm

Soneto de la Dulce Queja
Teng…