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Brown Is Beautiful, Too: Debunking Filipinos’ Beauty Standards

US  tanning salons charge anywhere from $5 to more than $100  per tanning session contributing to its $5 billion per year industry. Despite the health risks, many American millennials still want to tan themselves. Why?

A survey conducted by Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) in Illinois, USA shows that 58 % of the American millennials think a tan makes a person attractive.

Filipinos’ Obsession with Fair Skin is Undeniable

Splash, one of the Philippines’ leading personal care company earns millions of pesos from personal care products including whitening products. Pinay’s desire to achieve a whiter version of themselves is evident by a survey conducted by Synovate in 2004. The results showed that one out of two women uses skin whitening products.

Today, many Pinays go to crazy lengths to get the fair skin they dream of. They spend their money on soaps, creams,  expensive lasers, IV drips or glutathione pills until they are satisfied with the results. 

Brown Is Beautiful, Too: Debunking Filipinos' Beauty Standards 1
Jeshoots from Pexels

Isn’t it ironic? But, what influence these women to think that fair skin is beautiful and dark skin is ugly?

Western Colonization and the Influence of Neighboring Countries

Going back to history, the Philippines was colonized by the so-called mestizas and mestizos, the Spaniards for more than three centuries. After they left, Americans took over and since then “white skin” has been the Filipinos’ standard of beauty.

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Engin Akyurt from Unsplash

Furthermore, the Philippines’ neighboring countries such as Japan, China, and Korea think the same way- the whiter the better. Since ancient times, tanned skin is associated with the lower-class while having a whiter skin signified elegance and nobility.

Specifically, the ever-growing popularity of K-Pop culture fuelled many women to dream for a whiter “glass skin”.  As a result,  different whitening products are available in many stores across the country.  


The Idea of “White Equals Beauty” Promotes Discrimination

The influence of “white equals beauty” has resulted in unrealistic beauty ideals and worse discrimination. From billboards to soap operas- white-skinned women are always the beautiful, rich and famous. And dark women are taught to look up to them. 

Early this year, an ad promoting the use of whitening product made headlines after netizens including local celebrities and Gabriela Women’s Party reacted to its message. It was clear that instead of promoting equality, the ad fuels discrimination. Making someone feel bad about themselves is an act of disrespect and does not encourage equality.

Benefits of Having a Dark Skin Stone

While it’s everyone’s choice to love or hate their natural brown skin, consider the following advantages of having a dark complexion:  

Melanin Allows Us to Get the Good Benefits of Sunlight

Our body can produce large amounts of vitamin D when our bare skin is exposed to sunlight. Interestingly, melanin provides natural protection against harmful UV radiation from the sunlight. The result is a tanned or sun-kissed complexion. However, as experts would advise, exposing your skin to the sun for long periods of time is unhealthy no matter what color you’re in.

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Jernej Graj from Unsplash

Dark Skin Tone is Less Prone to Early Signs of Aging

New York’s plastic surgeon Dr. Dara Liotta explains that signs of aging are less noticeable in people with thicker skin. Cells are more densely packed together in a thick dermis so fine lines and wrinkles are less visible. And guess what? Melanin-rich skin is predisposed to have thicker skin. Have you ever wondered why wrinkles start on your forehead and eye area? These areas are the thinnest part of your skin.


Save Money on Buying Skin Whitening Products

Skin whitening is a multibillion-peso industry. The promise of white, healthy and beautiful skin encouraged the consumers to buy these expensive products. Unfortunately, not all products work for everyone. After causing melanoma and skin allergies to some women, these products are tossed in garbage bins. What’s worse, reversing the skin damage caused by these products costs more. 

Everyone has their own perception of beauty. But one thing is certain. Having brown skin is not a curse, is not shameful and does not make you less beautiful instead it’s the exact opposite.


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