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.


fran leonardis said...

How funny the world is. Here these people are longing to lighten their skin, and here I am sitting in the sun to darken mine. (against the better judgement of medical professionals all over the world) I've even gone as far as having a tan airbrushed at one point!!! Why? To look healthy, more sexy, even wealthier. Wealthier you say? Well, yes! I mean if I have a tan it means that I actually have free time to sit in the sun somewhere, and THAT must mean that I have some sort of wealth.
What we do to ourselves in society...amazing...simply amazing.

Linda Phillips said...

In the case of Michael Jackson, he did claim that he had Vitiligo. Perhaps he did, but I have also read that various sources claimed that he also used skin bleaching products as well. Who knows?

What I have also read about Michael was that he detested his father Joe so much, that when he looked in the mirror he saw Joe and thus he kept trying to look less and less like his father.

What he did to himself with all of those plastic surgeries was just dreadful! I have also heard that he had to wear fake noses in the end, becuase there was no cartlidge left. How horrifying if true!!!!

I am very lucky to be my age and not have a single wrinkle. I do dye my hair. I know I would look just awful if I let all of the white (grey?) grow in. My skin is too pale and there would be no contrast at all. But that is the only thing I change about myself. If I did develope bad wrinkles...which I am bound to do at some point...I would never do anything about it. If I were a public figure, I might think differently, but look at the mess that Joan Rivers has made of herself!!!!! Awful!

Presumably...well one therory anyway, was that civilization began, I believe, in Africa...and that people like Christ and Cleopatra were all very dark skinned. Isn't that amazing if it is true?

You hit the nail on the head about caste sysytems and acceptance. It's so unfortunate that we (society) as a whole thinks that way!!!!!!! White is beautiful and Black is not...???? I don't agree at all, but the world sees it that way in general and its really a tragedy.

Wish I knew the answer... Linda

Lynne said...

Ah, and I thought this was only a disease among us Blacks. As a light-skinned Black child in the 60s, I remember comments about being "high yaller" ("high yellow"). But my family is from the Caribbean, and we seem to be more used to mixed race people and skin colors than Americans---in my family we literally have White, Black and every possible combination in between. To us, mixed race and skin tone is a matter of course, not an strange, freakish object of curiosity. If we believe God made us all in His image, then we're all beautiful no matter how we look, and one is no better than the other.

Forrest Mallard said...

This is nothing new. Throughout Asia from Japan to India, it is considered lower class to have darker skin. It is nearly impossible to buy any kind of skin cream here WITHOUT a whitening agent.
Work outdoors (fisherman, farmer, laborer) and you are bound to get dark skin from being in the sun so much. These are low class jobs in these countries and the elite HiSo's (High Society) want to make sure that nobody mistakes them as having ever had a job like this.
It all drives me batty sometimes. I get very frustrated at the HiSo's here in Thailand for being so darned arrogant. But its a culture thing that has existed for centuries.
As a foreigner here you are exempt from these class rules.. with most westerners automatically considered somewhat HiSo.. but most Africans are initially regarded with disdain unless their attire suggests that they have money.
That's just the way it is here.. and probably not going to change any time soon.

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