Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on colorism. It’s my next “thing” to write about. Of course, as a Black woman in America, I know all about the color complex in our community. From birth I’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that Black people come in two flavors, light and dark. Interestingly, I never knew what flavor I was, and thus never suffered from a true color complex, but I can’t say I was unscathed by its limitations.
These days, however, I am looking at other communities to see how colorism plays out. And boy have I been shocked to see how deep color bias is in Asian cultures. Now, first let me say, Asia is an enormous area and I am obviously not talking about every single Asian country. But when I recently came across this article in the New York Times about Chinese woman wearing hideous ski masks to the beach to protect themselves from the sun, I really started to pay more attention.
There is a line in the article about this ski mask trend when the reporter asks a woman why she would wear a mask to the beach and her response? ” I’m afraid of getting dark…A woman should always have fair skin. Otherwise people will think she’s a peasant.”
Soon after reading that article, I saw this television ad for a bleaching cream sold in India. The cream is made specifically to lighten a woman’s lady parts. Take a look at the “Intimate Wash” video and try not to laugh.
Beside the fact that the woman is already pale as snow, the advertisement seems to suggest that only until her vajayjay is equally pale can she truly be happy and will her man find her attractive. The hype about fair skin in India is overwhelming and affects both men and women, young and old.
Finally, on my last stop of the Asian color bias tour, I read about a new indie film called Bleached, about a young Fillipino-American whose mother sells bleaching cream and wants her daughter to be her model. It looks like a great movie, but it also says more about colorism in the Asian community.
So, dear readers. Tell me what you know or have experienced with colorism in the Asian community. Is it talked about openly? Do certain cultures prize lighter skin more than others? Is darker skin always associated with peasants?
I’m totally listening.