Whether we admit it or not, the Philippines has become so obsessed with the Western standards of beauty, more and more so over the years. It seems that we only consider women to be beautiful when they don’t look native.
We fawn over mestiza celebrities and half-Filipino beauties, loving the fact that they don’t look like the typical Filipino we see every day. When a morena does get the spotlight, people think it is a compliment to say that she is pretty despite her skin tone; as if having brown skin is inherently unattractive.
To this day, whitening products are still being used, and the reason these products continue to flourish is that they appeal to the most self-conscious part of women. Being fair-skinned was always attributed to being rich, successful, and beautiful. Years of living with this kind of environment foster the idea in our brains that this is the only standard of beauty.
Just this weekend, a skin whitening brand posted a series of advertisements of twins—the other half darker and sporting blackface—while the brand ironically preaches, “dark or white, you are beautiful.”
LA-based actress, Asia Jackson, took to YouTube all the things the brand did wrong to further perpetuate colorism in the Philippines.
The media plays a huge role in perpetuating this narrow-minded idea of beauty.
Will we deny that there are countless television shows that always cast brown-skinned actors for the inferior roles and fair-skinned actors for the superior roles? Should we stay mum about the fact that when casting actors, “Class A” refers to lighter-skinned people and “rich-looking” while “Class B” and “C” are those who look more like the typical everyday Filipino?
We live in a country with a tropical climate, so having a darker skin tone is completely natural.
We should be concerned that bullying over skin tone begins in elementary school. Kids are laughed at, mocked, and bullied for something they have no control over, and the worst part is, they hear it even from their own parents.
Bullying has a lasting effect on the target, and they will grow up with lower self-esteem.
Recently, there are more brown-skinned celebrities that are gaining traction like Ylona Garcia and Gabbi Garcia. These celebrities are proud of their color, and unlike other stars parading as a “morena beauty,” they do not advocate for skin whitening products.
Seeing morena celebrities on television and mainstream films help make Filipinas with brown skin feel more represented. They help counter the idea that the more Western you look, the more beautiful and successful you will be.
Let’s set the record straight – there is nothing wrong with liking fairer skin. What’s wrong is the mindset that brown skin is automatically inferior or ugly. It’s about time we stop shaming natural brown skin, and instead, celebrate and cherish it.