Tuesday, August 3, 2010


In India there's a new Facebook Application that's helping people in India change the shade of their skin.

This app says download your profile photo, drag a line across the screen to see yourself with lighter skin.

Sh Shahrukh Khan, a Bollywood superstar, in a commercial, says the lotion, Vaseline Men, can be used for lightening your entire body.

Whiter skin is IN in India.

This Facebook App and the new product is encouraging men and women in India to believe they can have a better life, more success, better jobs, earn more money, have a better love life and better marriage, if their skin is whiter. In India, whiter/lighter skin implies you're upper class. Class, i.e. caste is still a big deal over there -- scholars, priests teachers, educated people with fine manners, accustomed to the finer things in life are Higher Caste. (Lower caste are darker-skinned people who work in the sun -- laborers, servants, etc.)

Skin lightening products are already an established trend in Asia, a booming business in China, Japan, and the Philippines.

I find myself thinking of Michael Jackson -- his white face. Did he have the disease (Vitiligo)? That's what he told Oprah in an interview. But weren't you aghast as you saw his features change -- nose, eyes, chin, cheek bones? Everything about him changed-- even if he had Vitiligo, why did he choose a white person's features -- did he want to be white?

What about Blacks? Don't they favor lighter skin for reasons that sound just like the guys in India ? Lighter means you get jobs more easily, better jobs, higher pay, better social life -- aren't they more successful in every department?

Is lighter better if you're Latino, Puerto Rican, Mexican, or from Argentina, Venezuela or another South American country? I suspect the answer is yes.

I have to bring up the words. I'm white -- hair, features, build, everything about me says "white Caucasian." White is associated with benign, bright, fortunate, propitious, pure, milk, fresh snow, rays of light, and spirituality.

Black is associated with dirty, foul, impure, nasty, squalid; also unclean; gloomy, depressing, dismal, dispiriting, funereal -- black magic, black-anger, blackout, blackmail -- all those bad things, while white is heavenly things such as clouds and angels.

I can't help thinking that the words help to send many people into pursuing whiter/lighter skin.

I think trying to look whiter is seriously dumb, just like people (practically everyone I know), trying to look young. Can "older" ever be more beautiful than "younger" -- lines, wrinkles, thinning hair, puffy eyes. jowls, wattling neck? No -- not in our society, when we're bombarded with sexy young heroines and heros in movies, TV, and ads selling us magical ways to fix up any and all our flaws.

Translate that into skin color -- can blacker, darker, be more beautiful, and sought after by men and women in India with "castes," Bollywood movies, TV, and all the words that say white is pure and black is evil?

I am thinking how gorgeous Michael Jackson was as a child in the Jackson Five, then the slender, tall, black young man, fascinating, excitingly handsome -- if he'd left his nose, his mouth, his facial structure alone -- even after the trial, the smears, dirty talk about his love for kids, his sexuality -- Michael Jackson would be living on throughout the world as a symbol of a uniquely talented man, who was what he was.

A few days ago I said "we like Secretary of State Hillary now more than ever, because she is what she is." I'm saying it all over the place these days -- saying it to the people in India, Latinos, Puerto Ricans. Mexicans, Jews. Muslims. Japanese, Blacks and to myself -- BE WHAT YOU ARE.

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