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The Fact About Asian Appeal Standards

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The Truth About Asian Beauty Standards

In the summer of 2010, I travelled with my family to the town my parents grew up in the Philippines. Late one afternoon, after investing the day at the beach with my little cousin Yana, I returned to my Lola’s (granny’s) home. My Lola started yelling as quickly as we strolled through the door, and I could just understand parts of what was being stated given that she was speaking Bisaya, the local Filipino language. However one phrase repeatedly turned up and stood out: “Ma itom ka.”

The actual translation implies “you are black,” however it can also suggest “you’ll turn black.” In reality, I ‘d heard it typically when I was maturing. My mama and aunts frequently utilized this expression when using me an umbrella or hat to wear before I went out in the sun. Sun defense may’ve belonged to it, however as I aged, I began to comprehend that there was more to the phrase than concern about sun damage. The avoidance of darker skin plays into the colorism, or discrimination of same-race people based on their skin color.

Equating brightness to charm is perpetuated all across the Asian continent, specifically in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Indian appeal standards. “A lot of this pressure originates from moms and other household members,” states Nikki Khanna, Partner Teacher of Sociology at the University of Vermont and author of Whiter: Asian American Females on Skin Color and Colorism. She describes that women are repeatedly informed that light, near-white skin is gorgeous and that they require lighter skin to bring in a mate and succeed in life.

Books and media support that understanding today, too. “The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye was a book I liked as a child, however upon reading it again as an adult, I understand how problematic books like these were,” states Frances Cha, the Korean author of If I Had Your Face, a story about working ladies in South Korea trying to make their method through life, while likewise having a hard time with gender inequality and difficult appeal standards. In The Ordinary Princess, the darker-skinned “regular” lead character is described as “homely” compared to her siblings with “white little noses and rippling golden hair,” who worked to keep their skin tones white and were a “delight to see.”

History informs us that the desire for pale skin has always existed in Asian culture. In ancient China for example, pale skin showed elite status, while dark skin implied you farmed or labored long hours in the sun. This desire ultimately caused skin bleaching, that has actually grown into a multi-billion-dollar international market in Asia today. Popular brands like L’Oreal, Nivea and Lancôme are major names in business, offering skin-whitening soaps and creams that assure “clean” and “pure” outcomes.

” I know when I walk into my regional Indian market, I’m going to quickly discover lightening creams and soaps lining shop shelves, but it’s much more than that,” states Khanna, who grew up with a white mother and South Asian daddy. She notes females will go to the extremes of going through lightening laser treatments, take lightening tablets and even use bleaching face covers, or face-kinis, to protect the skin. “Skin lightening is a huge industry that takes advantage of the insecurities of individuals of color, specifically ladies,” she says.

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