Walk in to any pharmacy looking for a moisturizer and be prepared to be assaulted with rows and rows of lotions and potions with one key word screaming at you. White.
There are many variations of white: white perfect, white pinkish radiance, white repair – you get the drift. It has been a personal challenge for this writer to locate a face moisturizer that does not have a whitening action, only to be faced with the other end of the spectrum, anti-aging cream. But that’s another discussion all together. This simply begs the question, why has the Malaysian market become obsessed with whitewashing in terms of whitening products?
A few months ago, the walkway from KLCC to the LRT station had a huge pink ad plastered on it by a skin care company claiming to ‘conquer darkness from within’. Nope, they weren’t referring to the evil streak some of us might have inside, they are basically saying that being dark is a problem and it needs to be conquered. And that their product serves this purpose with a brilliant advanced whitening technology and natural ingredients! All done in the noble purpose of making the consumer’s skin fairer or whiter and hence more attractive.
So what can we do about this?
1Stop wishing Amma had consumed more saffron when you were a foetus
You see, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Fall in love with yourself, as you are, whatever shade you are. Ask yourself, why do I really feel the way I do about my skin? Some introspection is required to fall in love with yourself as you are, but we guarantee, it is worth it.
So if you look into the mirror and keep wishing Amma had consumed more saffron when you were a foetus, of course you’re going to feel ugly and unattractive! Look at your skin for what it is, regardless of how dark you are. Rid your brain of the farcical idea that you will be a better person after finishing that tube of Fair & Lovely. Open your mind and change the way you think and realize that your skin colour is beautiful and unique. Your dark skin is gorgeous, and you need to own it!
2Stop letting whitening products fool you
As consumers, the onus is on us to be smart while buying products. There is no logic behind buying a product simply because TV commercials claim that you’ll land that job by being five shades lighter in 3-8 weeks. The fewer whitening products we buy, the fewer whitening products they produce
3Stop allowing moronic societal conditioning to take place
Which in this case means: stop thinking that fair skinned people have better chances of being successful in life!
For some warped reason, we think fairer skinned people are better and more successful – be it acing that job interview or getting the guy they want. We look up to them merely because they don’t have as much melanin in their skin as the rest of us, and that is absurd! Accept and embrace people for who they are, and stop allowing moronic societal conditioning (fairer = better) to decide if people are worthy!
4Don’t ever do it to your child. PLEASE.
Kavitha Emmanuel, the founder of Women of Worth, an Indian NGO that is standing up to bias toward lighter skin has said, “It starts when children are young: the moment a child is born, relatives start comparing siblings’ skin colour. It starts in your own family – but people don’t want to talk about it openly.”
Having led a life where your dark skin was ridiculed and made fun of, would you want to do that to your child? Teach your children to love themselves and to own the skin they are in.
5Say no and stay strong!
Yes, we are constantly bombarded with what ‘beauty’ really is by thousands of ads and movies. Without us realizing, we may fall for these ideas and entrench them on our minds. But remember, social media and media are not the be all and end all of life. They are only trying to sell you a lifestyle that they want you to think you need. Don’t fall for it!
So basically, to wrap up…
6Go out and get tanned – if that’s what you want!
Yes, you CAN go on a beach holiday and get tanned, even if you’re getting married in a few months. You don’t need to get a Grab for a two minute drive to avoid 10 minutes of walking in the sun. You don’t need to run from the sun at every instance! Darker skin just means more melanin pigmentation which will actually protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. But the truth is – if you love yourself enough, being a few shades darker wouldn’t matter at all.
Western beauty ideals, including fair skin, dominate the world. And with these ideals come products to service them. Just look at our Snapchat filters, all of which are geared towards Westernized features – fairer skin, an aquiline nose, hazel eyes. Our Indian genes are perfect, guys. And we definitely don’t need a filter to enhance that!