Wry Exchange

Skin Color-Pale is Preferable?
04-07-08, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: , ,

 I read a horrible story today about a man sentenced to two years for driving wife to suicide over her dark skin.  It reminded me of how many of my former South American and Asian exchange students prize pale complexions.  The students grow up learning that ‘pale is best.’  They come here to the states for a year where boys tan for the prom, and students vie to see who can develop the darkest tan.  Within a short period of time, the FESs join in, and are proud of their darker skin.  They all compare arms to see who ‘wins.’
Then, they return home.  Their friends laugh at them.  Their moms are horrified.  More than a few of the girls have been forced to take skin bleaching pills.  I had heard of skin lightening/brightening/bleaching creams, but PILLS?  ew!  There are complete product lines, including soap and cosmetics.
This is from the website ‘Race and Gender‘ about why women want to lighten their skin. There are so many things at work here: an ancient idea that says that women with very pale skin are not laborers; that those with darker skin have native blood, and that those who are dark are low-class.
Read this New York Times article from last May about skin lightening products.  It’s interesting for many reasons including Unilever selling lightening products.  You know Unilever, they own Dove-the brand that uses ‘real women’ in their advertising.  Hypocritical much?  “Fair & Lovely” is for women, while “Fair & Handsome” is the men’s line.
 I also recommend a blog post from Sapna Magazine online written by a Bangladeshi woman.  Check out this Pakistani website for ‘Fair & Lovely.’  


2 Comments so far
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I’m Asian-American and many of us are still at least somewhat influenced by our parents to keep our skin on the lighter side. Unfortunately, in NorCal it’s almost impossible to keep our skin very light! I try, though.

Comment by mekalika

Hmm, that was me by the way.

Comment by Sarah Nguyen

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