Saturday, May 25, 2013
Brown is beautiful.
I have 3 days off from work starting today so it's nice to have a time to write a new post although I don't have an idea of what it will be.
It is raining outside. It is dark and gloomy and quiet.
It was so different from last week when the sun shyly and coquettishly re-emerged after winter. I saw several of my female neighbors lying outside by their front lawn in their bikinis. I saw two young males lying shirtless on the roof of another house. I saw a mother reading a book while soaking in the sun and another teenage girl mowing the lawn in a skimpy shirt and shorts. People here associate summer with sun-kissed skin that comes with it.
Indeed, Americans love the sun and a healthy tan. To them, brown is beautiful while white is... well, a pallor of death.
In contrast, we Filipinos considered the sun as the enemy to be avoided at all costs. Whenever it comes out, up went our protective umbrellas. In fact, people back home routinely insulted one another by observing that the other had gotten darker (“Umitim ka.”). What would have been the ultimate compliment for an American is for us the ultimate curse. The last time I visited my country I see whitening products everywhere. The harmony of ebony and ivory is now a promise from ebony to ivory.
This white thing was no joke. Every second ad showed miserable brown girls touched by the fairy god mother of whitening products to become happy, fulfilled white versions. A simple equation was evident: brown equals misery and white equals happiness. Do you know that it is a challenge to go to a store and find lotion that doesn’t proclaim its whitening properties? I can’t even watch TV without seeing a minimum of five advertisements proclaiming certain brand of whitening cream that will help one keep her boyfriend.
So you might ask, do I also have an affinity to white skin? YES!
Perhaps because to me white looks pure and reminds me of princess stories. But thinking about it now as I tinker on my keypad, I think my obsession with white skin is not a manifestation about my racial self-hatred or the desire to appear more Caucasian. I think it has to do more with social class. I remember having spent a lot of time basking in the sun when I was younger. I fetched water from a well back in Manarra. I helped my grandma tend our camote garden, fed our chickens, walked so many miles to the market, washed our laundry by the river or did the million other things under the sun. My skin got so dark that I feel like a lowly alipin sa gigilid (slave). When I attended school for the first time, I was fascinated with my classmates who have fairer skin. They looked rich and pretty. I can't be as white as them, so I befriended them. In time, and mainly from avoiding the sun, my skin get a little fairer but only to some extent. I know that my skin tone will remain the same in my life time.
Unless perhaps one is Michael Jackson. But that's a different story.