One of my close friends has already written a piece about the seeming penchant of many Filipinas (and to some extent, South Asians) for skin products that give one a whiter or fairer skin. Skin whitening products are indeed selling like hotcakes and still expected to thrive in the beauty industry in the long haul.
With all due respect to the women (and even men) who patronize such products and those who manufacture them, I hope I can encourage many to rethink before buying any of those so-called skin whitening products again, particularly with the results of studies about the dangers associated with certain ingredients and substances such as mercury and hydroquinone. (An article that discusses some of the ingredients in skin whitening products is found in this link.)
For one, we are born of the brown race. God wanted us to be brown. He created us with brown skin because he thinks this is the best color for our race. More so, we are a tropical island-nation and it will be quite strange indeed to be gifted with lots and lots of beaches but with people all scampering away from the sun’s rays. Yes, it pays to be careful of the sun’s harmful UV rays from 10 am to 4 pm but there are enough sun protection products out there that can protect us from getting burned skin.
White skin is not superior or prettier. Just as having American twang if you are a Filipino does not mean you are superior than the rest who have this distinct Pinoy accent. White skin is white skin. They are the skin of our equally beautiful brothers and sisters from the west. Just like brown is ours. There is no competition there. No one is prettier by virtue of the color of her skin. We are all different. We all have unique characteristics that make us the race that we are. I like white skin on white people in the same way that I like brown skin on brown people.
I hope this will not sound racist or judgmental but I hope that many of those skin-whitening-product-patrons will feel beautiful again with their brown skin. Everywhere I go, I am proud to wear my skin. When my Pinay and other Asian friends are abroad, surrounded by Caucasians, they notice (and feel) admiring eyes on them. More than a couple of times, I, too, get compliments from well-meaning strangers, telling me how nice my skin color is. Again, there is no better color. It is just out of habit that people normally admire brown skin because it is a fusion of dark and fair, like a perfect blend of milk and coffee. Shouldn’t we then feel really blessed that our color is like a perfect mixture of black and white, just like how life should be? Even our fair-skinned counterparts sometimes want to experience having our “glorious” tan by going to the beach or staying inside tanning machines. However, the difference is that, oftentimes, they do not want the tan to be permanent. Most know the dangers of staying so much under the sun or getting too much of the UV rays from tanning equipment.
Another thing to consider is how a formerly brown skin really looks like after consuming all those skin-whitening products. Does anyone really like to be described as looking “maputla” all her life? Unlike a person who is originally fair-skinned from birth, someone who just turned fair artificially is likely to look anemic sans make-up or worse, may find it difficult or costly to maintain such whiteness in the long haul.
And speaking of UV rays, shouldn’t we feel lucky too that because we have brown skin, we are supposed to have more protection against the sun’s harmful rays? Statistics would point out that skin cancer (the variant supposedly caused by UV rays) is more highly-prevalent in white-skinned population. The advertisements of such skin whitening products do not mention this fact, right? Why is it that cigarettes’ packaging and ad materials are required to show “Cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health” while skin whitening products are not required to state “Having fairer skin may unnecessarily increase one’s chances of getting skin cancer due to the sun’s harmful UV rays” on their packaging and ads? Just something to think about before you buy that skin whitening lotion again.
Again, I respect everyone’s choices, whether or not he has fair, brown, or dark skin. I have good friends who also buy skin whitening products. Their skin care regimen does not in any way affect my feelings for them. I just hope that they will be reminded again that actually, their brown skin is beautiful and more importantly, their hearts and minds are their best features.
This is not a paid blog.