Love the skin you are in

By Priyanka Sharma Source:Global Times Published: 2016/6/13 13:48:01

Illustration: Luo Xuan /GT

Asians are known for their love of white skin, the whiter, the better. This particular feature is paramount for someone to qualify as beautiful. 

They put in a lot of time and effort to maintain their light skin color. So, they carry umbrellas even when it is cloudy, use whitening creams, bleaches, lotions, serums - all kinds of products. There are television commercials, billboards, and posters showing stark white women, advertising a small army of whitening products and treatments. In fact, I believe if weren't for women, this sector of the cosmetics industry would go bankrupt.

My Chinese colleagues don't take 10 steps in the sun without their sun umbrellas. They also drink a lot of different kinds of teas that promise to give them fairer skin.

White skin is not a new concept for Asians; it is certainly not a concept that we perceived after encountering our white friends from the West. The notion has been around for thousands of years. In historical stories and mythology, beautiful women are always described with moon-white skin.

The logic behind this fascination is quite simple. In Asian countries, someone's social status can be determined by their skin color.

Dark skin implies hard labor in harsh climate or conditions, like farming or fishing. But if someone's skin is white, it suggests that they spend a lot of time indoors and don't get much exposure to the sun. Now, to have light skin, one either has to be rich or higher up in the social hierarchy. Hence, the conclusion that poor people are dark and rich people are white.

Despite the oddity and shallowness of this obsession, it is nothing different from Westerners' fixation on tanned skin. Our white friends from the West lay on beaches for hours, use tanning sprays and machines, basically try everything, to look as brown as possible. They also advertise products ensuring the desired color, ranging from beige to bronze. Just like with the Asians, their obsession with skin color is the foundation upon which the tanning industry has built its empire.

They also have a similar reasoning to Asians, albeit in reverse. If one is too white, it means they can't afford a day on the beach or tanning parlors or a vacation to some exotic land. But a nicely tanned body says otherwise.

The obsession with a too light or too tanned skin not only costs one time and money but can cost them their health too. Too white skin indicates an absence of melanin, our natural protection against ultraviolet rays, and Vitamin D, which is essential for the body to absorb Calcium, and we all know that too much sun exposure can cause skin cancer.

All this time and effort and for what, for the sake of appearances? Why can't we just be happy in our own skin?

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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