I grew up in the States, where cultural values are quite different. The skin-tanned look started to become fashionable in 1920’s, and skin cancer rates have continued to soar ever since. Yes, that’s right–we are endangering our lives in order to have brown skin.
Each summer my friends/classmates would compare forearms to see who had managed to acquire the best tan. Needless to say, that’s one competition I had no shot at winning. I never even bothered to hold up my pasty limb next to theirs.
Then there’s the sunburn. I know some of you have experienced sunburn, but I burn on different level. Too much sun exposure and my skin turns bright red, sometimes to the point of blistering. After a few days of pain, the damaged layer of skin peels away—like I’m some kind of reptilian mutant from the x-files. This process still doesn’t result in a tan. About all I can do is turn from white to “less white.”
I was in for a surprise when I moved here. I still remember seeing the first commercial for a skin-whitening product–I was completely stunned. “Who in the world wants to be whiter?” I asked myself. Sadly, It seems many Filipinos do. Funny how we always want what someone else has.
The before-mentioned forearm competition has taken a bizarre turn. Filipinos often hold their arm next to mine and make self-effacing jokes about the color contrast. “Kape at gatas” (coffee and milk) is one of the more common jokes. I’m quick to remind them of the Caucasian quest for a suntan—a color that Filipinos have naturally.
Most of my Filipino brothers are attracted to mestizas (light-skinned Filipinas). Not me. Nothing attracts me more than a lovely morena (brown-skinned Filipina).
To my Pinoy brothers and sisters: wear your color proudly. Brown is beautiful!
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