Saturday, April 19, 2014

Is Beauty Really Only Skin Deep?

They say that beauty is only skin deep.  Maybe.  However what happens when the color of your own skin is no longer considered beautiful by you.  What happens when we start to equate our beauty not by our intelligence, facial features or character, but instead we base it on just how "white or dark" you can get your skin to be.

In the last few years just about every cosmetic company you can think of, has launch some form of whitening product for their skincare line.  The cosmetic industry is a 50 billion dollar a year industry that only keeps growing.  They push the idea that you need certain products in order to look your best.  However lately the idea is that whiter skin AND these products truly equates to real "beauty".  

 Skin whitening products became very popular in the 1990s.  From then till now, they have rocketed to stardom and are basically used by men and women from every walk and class of life.   These products have taken a life of their own to the point that some individuals are willing to use them regardless if they are proven to be carcinogenic.  The idea that making your skin lighter and whiter is so beautiful and desirable that many women (and men) are willing to go to great lengths regardless of the adverse effects on their health.

Now, lets take this a step further.  What happens when you are raised in a culture where you have been taught to believe that lighter skin is truly beautiful.  In India, fair skin is considered not only beautiful but it plays a part in their cast system.   Marriage and employment in many parts of India are entered into depending on just how "white" the individuals skin really is.  Could you imagine being hired or granted an interview for a job based on the color of your skin?  The idea that whiter skin reflects intelligence and beauty is so ingrained in their country, that you can find in their local store baby whiting oil in order to help your child from birth have a higher chance of moving up the ladder once they reach adulthood by "bleaching" their skin from an early age. 

 I recently spoke to a prominent and well respected psychologist in Toronto who informed me that she wrote her undergrad thesis on this topic.  Does having whiter skin produce higher self esteem and (distorted) sense of beauty in darker or lighter skin individuals.  After collecting data from the survey the results concluded that darker skin women felt less attractive and had lower self esteem then whiter skin ones.   

Now lets flip this.  What happens when whiter skin women decide that they prefer a darker complexion and are willing to unrealistically tan, fake tan and/or take injections in order to reach this "healthy glowing" look?  A new drug has come on the market called Melanoton II also known as the Barbie drug which promises you a tanned complexion.    


Melantotan II was developed at the University of Arizona in order to provide individuals with a "safer" way to tan they using tanning beds or exposing themselves to the harsh rays of the sun.  This drug when injected allow your skin to produce a darker pigmentation then your natural one in order to get that glowing tan.  This drug can be found on the internet for sale.  However it is not approved by Health Canada as it has not been tested by them and therefore has no DIN.  The USA has not approved this drug either though it was created in one of their own universities and has been tested in clinical trials.  Nonetheless even with the lack of evidence in regard to its safe of the use of the drug, that hasn't stopped many individuals from using it in order to change their skin color.  This image enhancing drug has become so popular in Britain and British Columbia that they are rampant even in gyms.

Now lets flip this again.  Many people are against whiting creams and see them as a dangerous product for women and men with self esteem issues.  However how is a whitening cream any more or less dangerous (in regard to self esteem) then a tanning cream is?  I have seen people raise their nose at whitening cream products, yet those same people are walking out the door with a tanning product in hand or visiting tanning salons even when they are aware of the harmful UV rays.  So if a whitening cream and a tan creaming will temporarily change the color of your skin and make you feel more "beautiful" then where exactly does the argument lie?  Is either considered acceptable or has it become no different then one dyeing their hair?  Why is one ok and the other one not?  You are still changing your skin color either way you see it.  So what's the big problem, really? 

So this makes me wonder.  Is beauty really only skin deep, or have we reached a whole new level of distorted beauty that now we believe the whiter or darker skin makes us more attractive, intelligence and desirable.  Is beauty really equated to skin color and does it effect how you see and view your role in society and if so, do you believe this to be true or are you perfectly fine with how your skin color looks?  I invite anyone to really consider both sides of the coin and establish a proper argument if both whitening and darkening your skin color plays a role in societies self esteem and view of individuals.   Has this phenomenon distorted our view on beauty or is it just cultural or simply just a thing to do now a days?

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  1. Very interesting post! As a white woman in a very white community (in Western Australia) this is not much of an issue - in past decades getting tanned was good but now that skin cancer rates are so high here this has gone out of fashion - but you raise some very good points. I'd like to think skin colour doesn't matter; but it obviously does ...

    1. As a white person myself I have never felt the need to tan and/or whiten even more my skin. I never tan because I am scared of the whole skin cancer issue and I have never thought about whitening my skin simply because up to a few years ago I didn't even know that said matter existed lol

  2. I am an African American woman who has traveled extensively through Asia and I remember a particular incident in Thailand where a woman who worked in a drug store came up to me, so excited. "Look, I have cream to make your face whiter. You so beautiful, but you too dark!" She literally said that and I was so taken aback. Whitening creams are so prevalent all over Asia and Africa and heck, the US too. It's so unfortunate. I feel like its one of those lingering post-colonial wounds (particularly in the case of developing countries and their perceptions of beauty and power).

    1. OMG I can't believe that woman told you you were too dark to your face! I can understand if in their culture many people use whitening creams, fine ok, if that's what you want to do then great, but to actually walk up to a person they dont even know and suggest that they need to whiten their skin is over the top.

    2. in 2005 I was at a bridal shower and out of nowhere this Trinidadian women who was indian sits next to me, grabs my arm turns it over and starts stroking it and then proceeds to touch my face and hair and says "omg Dayana you are so white, you are so fair, you are so beautiful. You are really lucky GOD blessed you to be white". I quickly got up and walked away and went to speak to the bride. I told her what her aunt did to me and she informed that for many of them who come from that country that was a very common way of thinking. She apologized on behalf of her aunt. I dont think I have ever been as offended as I was at that moment when that lady did that to me. She continued to do this every time she saw me. It really is disgusting and offensive for people to make comments like that. I am so sorry to hear that someone would call your natural beauty "too dark" wtf!


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