In the country, having white skin can give you unspeakable advantages: people will admire you, they will envy you, and also give you perks that people with brown skin tone could just wish for.
Even if Filipinos are born with golden brown skin, the pressure from society taught many of us not to be proud of our natural color. As a matter of fact, our actions are shaped by the standards set by the society: white is synonymous with beauty.
Since several Filipino movies stars are born mestizos or used expensive bleaching products and underwent several procedures, people would love to follow their footsteps. Many of us worship those with oily white skin.
But where exactly did this perception of beauty come from? Is it a sign of colonial mentality or inferiority complex brought by Spanish colonizers?
White Skin Superiority
In reality, it is not only Filipinos who are obsessed with having fairer skin. In China, whitening the skin is a practice since ancient times.
During the pre-Qin China, having white skin is associated with wealth. Those who lack it, especially the laborers, means that they worked under the sun for longer times. They were discriminated and called black-headed people. People from the ancient times considered having white skin as a symbol of nobility and elegance.
The same applies to the Western Culture during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some aristocrats are using lead oxide powder to make their faces whiter to set them apart from the slaves with darker skin color.
Whiter Skin is Valued, Thus the Rise of Skin Whitening
According to a research conducted by Professor Margaret Hunter entitled Sociology Compass, having a lighter skin tone is valued by Filipinos due to their European colonial history.
When the Spaniards invaded the country, the colonizers also brought with them the idea of skin color hierarchy: darker skin is associated with poor laborers who are working outside to make the meets end. Those with lighter skin are part of the higher class because they are mixed-race Filipinos or they are rich enough not to work under the sun.
Is Skin Whitening a Fad or Social Curse?
Filipinos today desire to get whiter skin complexion but they also do not want to look like Caucasians. We are proud of our Asian features and we just want to improve them.
However, the society has a different idea of Asian features: fair skin, jet black hair, almond-shaped eyes, and small faces. In reality, most endorsers of skin whitening products in the Philippines are mixed-race Asians.
Having whiter, milkier skin complexion can mean power, wealth, and beauty. This is why people would do different ways to have a whiter complexion.
Looking back to the history of people’s obsession with white skin, it can be hard to have it corrected.