Asian celebrities are as fair or sometimes fairer than their American and European counterparts. Their influencers are just the same. Many of the well-known Asian celebrities have Caucasian descent. This is a testament only to Asians’ obsession over white skin and white people. Asian countries are also known to be hospitable to all foreigners, but most especially to Europeans and Americans. Minimum-wage earners spend thousands of dollars on skin-whitening products to look like their favorite models and actresses.
The history of Asians’ obsession with white skin dates back to centuries ago. It runs deep. For Asians, white skin is not a trend. They have been trying to achieve white skin since they were first colonized by Europeans and Americans. In the Philippines, for example, Filipinos are spending their hard-earned money on lotions, creams, serums, and toner for whitening just to achieve the Korean glass-skin look.
Why are Filipinos obsessed with getting fairer skin? The country was colonized by Spain for 333 years and then by the Japanese and the Americans. It only became truly independent for less than a century. The culture of whiteness is deeply ingrained into Philippine culture and society. When you look at the current crop of celebrities in the Philippines, you will notice how more than 90% of them have fair skin, and many of them are half-Filipino and half-Caucasian.
Asians are being vilified for this obsession with psychologists dissecting their every purchase of whitening products and influencers convincing them to go make-up-free for a day or stop using whitening products and embrace their dark skin tone. But why should people stop bettering themselves? Why can’t people focus on eliminating racist remarks, discrimination, and judgmental statements?
Why It’s Not Bad to Better Oneself
Many Asians look at skin whitening as a way to better themselves. For those living abroad who have experienced racist remarks because of the dark tone of their skin, the only way for them to survive is to try to lighten their skin. In fact, a series of interviews with Asians living in Caucasian-dominated cities revealed that they feel they will experience less racist and discriminatory remarks if they are as fair as their peers there.
While there is nothing wrong with being on the darker shade of the spectrum, there is also nothing wrong with trying to look better based on one’s perception of beauty. Yes, beauty isn’t about being fair-skinned, and there are more important things in an appearance than how fair a person’s skin is; however, if one’s perception of beauty is tied to the whiteness or darkness of their skin, then why vilify them for it?
The real issue has a historical and cultural context. It’s not something that society can fix by asking celebrities to have makeup-free photo shoots or for influencers to use different hashtags that all have something to do about loving one’s skin. The real problem is how generations after generations of Asians have been colonized and enslaved by the thinking that white-skinned people are better than them.
If a person wants to use whitening products, then so be it. If a person wants to be as fair as celebrities they see on social media, what is wrong with that? Again, if it isn’t harming others, bettering yourself should not cause a revolution among psychologists, celebrities, influencers, and what-not.
The real issue that needs to be addressed is that sector of society that makes Asians feel they’re less than fair-skinned people. You don’t address an issue by fixing the outcome. You address a problem by diving deep into its root.
Businesses are making a handsome profit out of producing and selling whitening products. They are creating badly needed jobs that put food on the table for millions of families. Demonizing those who profit from these products and services is not going to solve the problem. Beauty brands are not the only reason why Asians believe fair-skinned people are more attractive. The problem begins at home, in school, and with the media.
It is easy to point fingers when the problem is so deep-seethed in society and culture that nobody really understands where it came from or even how it started. Yes, it is true that Asians are so obsessed with having fair skin. It is also true that they see fair-skinned people as more beautiful. But before anyone puts the blame on people who use filters on Instagram or go to the doctors to get fairer skin, think about what they’ve suffered through over the decades and how much more they are suffering now.