White is Bright… and Right

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?

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  1. Wmonn

    I saw commercial back in ’09 while putting together a lesson plan on racism for high school students, which was for whitening cream. There were actually two that we found. One was of a girl that was interviewing for jobs. She was not getting any call backs, and the narrator tells her to use the whitening cream. I think it said that she would appear to be a better worker if she did. Of course, she uses the cream and gets the next job for which she interviewed. The other ad was of a guy that couldn’t find a date, until he uses the cream. It was amazing to think that this was happening in the 21st century, but it shows that the legacy of colonialism does linger in countries around the world.


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