Sunday, March 06, 2005

skin so (un)fair

Ever since the “breakthrough” of skin whitening was introduced more than a decade ago, a massive campaign akin to a witch hunt has been launched against all things dark and unbeautiful.

I was in college then, when a skin whitening lotion that promised fairer skin was introduced. A “breakthrough” for colored women who have always dreamed of fairer skin. Now they could come out of their shells, and “reveal” their whiter, fairer skin. Well, thanks a lot. Wasn’t it enough that women have to put up with all the pressure of how they should look like -what their measurements should be, the style of clothes they should be wearing or not wearing, their hair- now we have to be white too? And how is it again that by being dark, there was something wrong with me and every other brown skinned Filipina? Wasn’t this an outrage? Wasn’t it supposed to be?

Sadly, I didn’t hear anybody protesting. Instead, I noticed more people I knew -even a few friends- getting fairer, even those who weren’t even morena to start with. And I didn’t realize what it was until I finally asked- coz I was getting a bit concerned about their sickly pallor which I associated with anemia. That’s when it hit me- this wasn’t just a passing trend, skin whitening was here to stay.

True enough since then, numerous other products with whitening ingredients have surfaced. From body lotions to soap, facial wash, deodorants, face powder, astringents, even laundry soap! Skin whitening is now a thriving business. Of course this means an almost 24/7 barrage of ads extolling the virtues of being fair skinned that could reach natural-born mestiza mestizo heights – if only skin deep.

And so the pressure is on. No dark spot should be left unbleached, no blemish concealed or erased from existence. It is now almost a crime to be spotted with dark underarms, to expose those knees and elbows that are a few shades darker than the rest of you. And that’s only the beginning.

There’s a war out there- and I don’t even know if somebody’s siding with me. The truth is, hearing and seeing this onslaught of why you should have fairer everything on a daily basis – it can get to you. I still love my color and wouldn’t change it for Michael Jackson’s, but I’ve acquiesced to maybe, I should work on my underarms. And these little dark spots on my knees, hmm, maybe that too.

But for anything else skin whitening and the “beauty” business has to offer, my will is strengthened by my mantra- “I am not my dark underarms.” “I am not my blemished tooshie.”


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