Friday, March 13, 2009

Skin Whitening All The Rage In Asia

Skin whitening has been around for many years, particularly in Asia. Its popularity has grown in recent years...and has become big business across Asia. It's mostly an issue for Asian women. I first read about this (as it relates to Asians) back in the early 2000's and I have always been a little intrigued by it. This is because I find Asian women to be most attractive in their natural their natural skin tone.

Hear a public radio story (from from earlier this week... which explores this issue. Some of these women are risking their health just to look more white.

What is behind this social craze? Who are Asian women trying to please...or who are they seeking approval from? (I have my ideas on that). Is the White European standard of beauty behind it? I believe that this is probably part of what motivates these women. A Filipina woman offers her take on what's behind this phenomenon, and she provides some very good insight. It's interesting how the "n" word comes up.... but then again it all ties in to the bigger issue of racism and how having darker skin is seen as negative, inferior, etc. Skin lightening products and the topic of skin tone have been issues for Blacks as well. The story regarding Asians just shows how global this issue is.

I also believe that the desire for White/European men has something to do with it. It's probably no coincidence that many Asian women prefer white men... especially if these women are in a setting where White men are plentiful and available. This is what I have noticed over the years just through general observation. Unfortunately this is something that isn't studied extensively. But I wonder what the role of colonialism... self-esteem... Western Pop culture, etc plays in this.


redante said...


This is a pretty conroversial topic. As a Filipino-American I know very well from experience the types of issues you touch upon in this post. Here's a Wikipedia article that takes a colonial mentality angle to it. I would say that those who are not as assimilated into U.S. culture would be more into the skin whitening thing. Those who are more assimilated and are used to multiculturalism and especially those who have been exposed to ethnic pride ideas and Ethnic Studies in school would be less prone ot it. I would also venture to suggest that the younger generations of US-born Asians won't be so much into at as older generations.

rikyrah said...

You're been reading what Chris Chambers has been reading over at Nat Turner's Revenge.

Here was my response to him:

wrap your mind around this.

as messed up as we, as a community are, STILL, about race and colorism, I believe we're about 40 years ahead of the rest of the folks.

Your average Latino wants to lecture the ' Black' community in America about race, while looking at their television, you would never believe that 85% of the slaves sent to the Western Hemisphere landed somewhere else other than the United States of America. Sit and watch Univision and Telemundo for 24 hours and tell me how many BLACK Latinos you see, that aren't in subservient roles.

Then, we can hop over to India. Got 1 Billion folks, and is as color coded as you can get. Sure it's a coincidence that skin color, caste and poverty seem to be so directly linked, and that they sell tons of skin lighteners there.....but, it has nothing to do with White Supremacy.

Go a little North, and you'll find Asian girls getting eyelid surgeries, yet fighting with you when you ask if they're doing it to be more White.

Is there any wonder why they come here and stomp on us?

This is the main reason why I've never subscribed to the ' rainbow coalition' theory. How you going to be in a 'coalition' with someone that treats their fellow countrymen that look like you- in their country of origin- like crap. They share a CULTURE with those folks, and dog them out. So, of course, they come here racist against us.

redante said...

Hi Rikyrah

I went over and took a look at Nat Turner's Revenge to see the thread you were referring to. It was pretty eye-opening but a bit depressing for me to see the posts that were expressing the types of tensions between African-Americans and Asians. I know that jerks, elitists, and bigots come in every color. I am just hoping that despite these bad inter-cultural experiences, that most African-Americans don't see Asians as a monolith -- meaning that we all think the same and regard Black Americans negatively. Because not all of us do. Sometimes it is much easier to see the jerk as being representative of an entire ethnic group when in fact what you are seeing is an individual being an ass.

I'm a believer in solidarity. But in order for that to happen between people who are different from each other there has to be mutual trust and mutual respect on an individual level. The enemy, in my mind, are the types of attitudes and behaviors that undermine the creation of solidarity among people who, for all purposes, share common political, social and economic interests. And mutual suspicion and mistrust is a big hurdle to establishing solidarity.

I am a proponent of people learning to get to know each other on an individual level and learning how to get along. But it has to be a mutual thing. Both sides have to be willing to give the other side a chance. Otherwise it's pretty impossible to make that bridge. That's why I chose to be a blogger at MOA -- to make that bridge.

Nancy Hanks said...

Thanks for bringing this important topic to light, AI! I would like to add to the commentary that identity and identity politics is no longer useful for Americans, or internationally. Certainly the negritude movement, which was French after all, was important to our history and to the history of African Americans, but as a political independent, I would like you to address the issue of culture in terms of our current political options. Apparently whether black, white, brown, red, yellow, or green, we are all slaves to the 2-party system. That is the larger issue, I think. I think you agree with that, but I also would like you to speak out on this once again and provide leadership to our people to move forward...
In solidarity,

Brian said...


I didn't intend for this to be an "Us against them" thing...but I got your point.

Christopher Chambers had his own angle.

I think this shows how the media has distorted the White image. And the U.S., through the export of its Pop culture, has influenced the World with this image...which reinforces old colonial ideas that were already in place regarding what race is superior. These ideas are so powerful that even though I know they might be distorted... I myself still often see White as better....and find myself wanting approval. And in reality... the way things are in this Country, that's almost a necessity if you want to survive. It's just fascinating to see how this problem impacts others around the World.

Brian said...


I agree on the same boat aspect. I have mentioned it here many times. That's why the old model used by Civil Rights Inc., and all the opportunists from that World should be abandoned. Blacks today must connect with other groups who are dealing with the same issues... poor Hispanics, poor Whites, and look at the problems that we have in common. It's more about Class status today. Race is a factor...but Class has surpassed race in many ways. Blacks must tie their destiny to that of others who are largely in the same boat...and convince Americans across the board that improving life for classes of people will improve life for more than just poor Blacks or poor Whites.

Regarding viable, permanent, major 3rd parties...i've almost given up on that idea. I think this Country is stuck with the inherently corrupt 2 party dictatorship that it has its detriment.

Anonymous said...

Your assessment on the subject cannot be any more further from the truth. Asian culture's preference for whiter skin tone goes back to history and class culture. Darker skin implied lower class because you are out in the sun and doing hard labor. Lighter skin implied you are aristocratic and stay indoor away from the sun. What was originally a class culture mentality has ingrained into the Asian mindset over many generations and manifested into what it is today.

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