Thursday, July 15, 2010

white not whatever

When I was younger, I used to laugh at all the skin-lightening ads I saw. I still remember them, the close up of a Malay or Chinese woman, her hair shiny, and her skin light, and the green bottle, or the white bottle. I remember them in magazines and on bus shelters and sometimes on tv.

I used to laugh because this was another segmented aspect of my life - yet another thing that was part of my Malaysian life and not part of my Australian life, because I'd only see them in magazines in Malaysia, on bus shelters in Penang.

As a light-skinned Chinese woman living in Australia, I feel the pressure to be light-skinned at exactly the same time as I feel the pressure to be tanned. As a woman I'm more beautiful if I'm tanned! (also perhaps more attractive and fit? beachy-sporty-Australian-culture and all that) But my word, those dirty Asians, migrating here and blah blah blah. Like Carmen says in Ethnics, Ethnics, EVERYWHERE:
We really can’t win, can we? When we try and integrate by having the same interests and hobbies, maybe marrying or having kids with white people, we’re “taking over”, but when we try and stay out of it, set up schools to not tread on the toes of state school education or put adverts on dating sites for Asians only, we’re “not integrating”. Make your bloody minds up FFS or fuck off back to your imaginary white island.
Never be white enough to not be a horrible foreigner or an exotic Asian woman; never be tanned enough to be beautiful; there are so many intersections here sometimes I don't know where to start to explain. How can I explain why it is this way? It doesn't mean I want to lighten my skin or darken my skin, but these messages, they're just always there and always make me want to roll my eyes until they fall out of my face.

Or something.

So there's a facebook app to lighten your skin in profile pics:

Vaseline launches skin-whitening Facebook tool for India
In 2009, a poll of nearly 12,000 people by online dating site, revealed that skin tone was considered the most important criteria when choosing a partner in three northern Indian states.
AND WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS, EXACTLY? I don't know where to start. I don't know where to START.

WELL, I DO. COLONIALISM AND MISOGYNY, THAT'S WHERE. And then maybe we'll talk about appropriation again later.

1 comment:

  1. Colonialism and misogyny, indeed. Ugh. Good post though.