I think one of the biggest surprises that knocked me flat when I arrived here the Philippines was the never ending drugstore shelves of whitening products. That's right: bleaching, whitening, melt-you-dark-away creams, powders, antiperspirants, sunscreens, sprays and solutions (why anyone needs to make their pits white, I can't fathom). Yet the mentality here is that fair, white skin is better than brown skin.
Many of the locals here tell me of their almost obsessive craze to lighten their skin tone to be more like white people. Inside, my heart broke and my insides kind of turned to a depressed gloop. For real? You look at me and see how my skin tone is better than yours? Why is brown bad? Who told you that? What kind of marketing/advertising/historical propaganda has convinced you that whiteness is somehow superior to brown-ness?
It's made me so sad. Even here, the scars of colonial power and Western material gain have gashed the mentalite of a beautiful, respectful, ancient and wonderfully brown people. Even when I say that I don't want my friends here to desire to be white at such extremes, they just smile back and say: "You white folks try so hard to be brown with all your tanning lotions and tanning beds… what's the difference?"
Are none of us happy with the tint of the Creator in our skins?