Friday, June 20, 2008

Does my brown skin offend you?

Right, so I have been bitching about this for weeks to everyone that would listen. Now its time to put fingers to keyboard and blog about it.

There's this mentality in Malaysia, the whole of Asia come to think about it that fair is good. Fair is beautiful. Everything white is exquisite and any other thing that isn't white is fug. Okay, maybe not in those terms. I watch TV, I flip through magazines and newspapers and I cannot recall a moment in time when I was not bombarded by some kind or other beauty product that promises "Fair and radiant skin in 30 days" or "Whiter and fairer skin, he would never let go of you now" or some kind of bullshit with that kind of premises. A promise of whiter skin in a bottle for non-white Asian women to feel better about themselves. I never really care about it.

Until now.

My moisturiser is finishing up. I give it another 2 weeks and I would need to buy a new one. I am not happy with the current one so I figure I finish that off and get a new product. So I walked into a store that prides themselves on facial regime and skin beautification. A salesgirl came up to me and asked me what I wanted. This is what I said:

"I'm looking something for my face. I have combination skin. Slightly oily T-zone, not that oily that the oiliness could be captured in pictures but oily enough for my nose to be all shiny under the light. I have dry patches on my cheek but not so bad but what I'm concerned most is the open pores, the size of the back of needles along my cheekbones. Any recommendations?"

People, it does not get more specific than that.

From that what would you tell me? Perhaps you would recommend the pore control regime, or maybe products specifically for combination skin. That bitch however feels that its a brilliant idea to introduce me to their skin whitening range.


"Why are you showing me this?"
"Oh this is our skin whitening range. It can make your skin fairer."
"What wrong with my skin?"
"It's not fair."

.............................Years from now, this is the moment when that bitch would look back and wished that she would have given me to one of the other salesgirls.

"Oh, my skin is not fair? That's a problem now? I do not recall having brown skin is ever a ...."problem". I remember perfectly well that when I came in, I highlighted that I have combination skin and open pores. At no point did I mentioned that I hate the colour my skin and would like you to suggest your skin whitening products to me. What is the logic in recommending skin whitening products to someone who has combination skin and open pores?"

I said all this without ever raising my voice. I said it all in a low, strict voice and I did not brake eye contact. My mother does this all the time when she's angry with me. The woman never yells, but she speaks in a quietly fierce way that seems to scare people. Over the years I have come to mimic it and achieved similar results. At this point of course, that bitch looked scared.

She didn't managed to answer anything. I'm sorry that I picked on her though. I bet that just what she's trained to do. I'm sorry that she had to deal with me. Now no offence to anyone who is into this whole whitening thing. I mean, go crazy. I on the other hand thinks its offensive.

Why would I want to put some magical cream on my face so that my skin would be whiter? That I would be beautiful once I become white? And isn't that shit weird when only your face is white when the rest of your skin - your neck, arms, legs would still be brown? What the fuck is that? Why is that when I walk into a skin care store; I am being told my brown skin is a flaw. Why the fuck should I use that cream and become white? No disrespect whatsoever to white people of course. I mean no offence no anyone. I am just perplexed.

What is so wrong with coloured skin?

It's not just in Malaysia, in India poor girls are buying face creams that promises them that their skin would be fairer. But some of the chemicals are untested and dangerous. They ended up with disfigured faces and some even went blind. All just because some time ago a group or marketing fucks dictated that fair is good. Fair is beautiful therefore we all must. What ever happen to pride for your skin colour? Why is that we Asians want to become fairer? I went to Thailand and I see the same shit in their shopping marts. Singapore and Indonesia going through the same shit as well. Why do Asian people wants to have fairer skin? What's wrong with our skin now? Colours make the world a more beautiful place. And yes, that includes our skin too.

I never would have guessed that when I was born bout 2 decades ago, my brown skin would be a flaw and make me look fugly. Well.... tough. I rather be fugly than change the colour of my skin.


Tinesh said...

There is an old poem by a black dude, dunno if you've heard it or read it before. It's gotta do more with racism but i think it can be applied here la.

Dear white fella,
Couple if things you should know,
When I born, I black,
When I grow, I black,
When I go in sun, I black,
When I cold, I black,
When I scared, I black,
When I sick, I black,
And when I die, I still black.

You white fella,
When you born, you pink,
When you grow, you white,
When you go in sun, you red,
When you cold, you blue,
When you scared, you green,
When you sick, you yellow,
And when you die, you grey,
And you have the cheek to call me coloured?

Being white is overrated, white ppl wana be coloured. So dumb are Asians.

faye said...

This article really hits the spot, as a fellow friend with *cafe latte* colored skin, Asians are obsessed with fair skin.

Interestingly enough, in get loads of tanning creams. Bronzers. Lotions that create gradual golden brown.

I guess, the concept is the grass is always greener on the other side - lol.

But...I wish I could have seen that salesgirls face :D

Peter Varvel said...

Good for you, TCDO! Thanks for addressing one of the most inherent problems among the standards of beauty.
What a double-meaning loaded statement: "It's not fair."
My niece is half Mexican and her two brothers are full Mexican. One is dark, one is medium, and one is fair. Their mother told me that she notices that they get treated differently, based on the shade of their skin.
Why the hell would we want jacked-up skin like Michael Jackson, no matter which country we live in?

fie the elf said...

was she a chink

Technodoll said...

So ironic. I spend alot of money and risk skin cancer to go tanning in order to get some darker color on my skin. sigh.

Natalija said...

Well done! I've always thought that variety is the zest of life. What fun is there when everyone is just one shade?

Michelle said...

Good for you! I agree completely. My mother is Asian and when I was younger she was always against getting a tan because she grew up being told that being tan meant you were a laborer (God forbid you were a laborer or farmer!). But now that she's been in the States for awhile it's not a big deal, especially since all the pale white people WANT to be darker! So crazy and ridiculous!

Patt Irmina said...

hi TCDO, this is a very interesting post..

at some point between after leaving high school and upon entering Univ..i wanted to have fair skin so much..coz im born brown, not fair.

but i came to realize that not being fair is not my problem. its about not having a smooth skin. dealing with visible pores, zits here n thr, black/brown spots are my real problem.

i dont care if im not fair anymore, all i want is a smooth skin. smooth skins ARE pretty regarless of being fair or not.

love you for posting this up! =)

evie said...

i don't get it either. i'm really fair to the extent that i look deathly pale sometimes and yet these ppl still try to sell me whitening products. wtf!

Adrienne said...

i TOTALLY agree! i used to be so paranoid about going under the sun,at night i religiously apply whitening cream allover. but then came a point where i said fuck this,i'm going to the beach and embrace the sun kissed look! (and then i also ralise lah that being fair makes me look like a lazy couch potato.)

Prince Gomolvilas said...

Ha ha ha! She got pwned!

You preach it, girl! (Did I just say "girl"?)

the Constantly Dramatic One said...


That poem ROCKS!! And yes, I do think that it applies here as well.


Hmmm....I guess so. And babe, she lookes chestened. Like I'm gona jump on her and bite her nose off or something =p


Yeah, Michael Jackson. Isnt that a sad story that we should all learn from. Dude didn't just buy whitening products, he went aaaaallllll the way. Sad.

And what's sadder is that in this world we do get treated differently by the colour of our skins. =(


Dude. Do you *even* needs to ask?

the Constantly Dramatic One said...


Grass is always greener Techno....


I'm glad that you agree with me. After this we go out and hunt that Walrus Bimbo together =p


Tan skin means labourer skin? Holy crap!


Yes smooth skins does look good on any skin. Anybody can look twice better looking than they are if they have smooth, flawless skin.

Not the colour, but the texture of the skin is what's imrt. Right? =)

the Constantly Dramatic One said...


They trained for that shit lah. And I bet you that the whitening range is the best selling range.

Its all bout the money. Its all bout the dum da da dum? (Isnt there a song that goes like that? =p )


Ahahaahaahaha. Sunkiss look is awesome man. Mat Salleh semua nak tapi kita dah ada dah. Au natural lagi =D


Yes you did =D

Blue Floppy Hat said...

Yikes, don't even get me started on this fairness shite (as another non-white Asian girl, I've been fed WAY too much of this). Worst of all is the fact that people seem to think it's perfectly ok to evaluate people's attractiveness based solely on the colour of their skin. Worse yet, they often say and do this to and in front of CHILDREN (if I had a rupee for every time an old relative said to my mum, 'what a pity, she's so dark, not like you', or 'she'd be better-looking if she weren't so dark,', I'd be a rich girl. As would the poor girls who buy fairness/whitening creams in the hope of getting two shades paler, without knowing what those creams contain.)

Fabulously Broke said...

I don't like being dark or tanning ONLY BECAUSE it means my skin has been damaged by the sun

Other than that - dark is gorgeous. Those bitches can pull off lemon yellow like no other

Tine said...

Like you said, I wouldn't blame the girl for trying to sell you the whitening range because I do know quite a lot of Malays who sing praises about fair skin and hating their own darker one. I think they look great as they are, and I tell them so, but the word fell on deaf ears. They use all sorts of whitening lotions and potions, hoping that they'd work. This would be when they'd go to sales assistants like the one you encountered, because to the SA, this is sadly, a common request.

I'm so glad that you're happy just the way you are, and that should be the way. It's sad that they're discriminating against themselves for being darker. It's not enough that people tell them they look hot. Because in front of the mirror, they're just not "white" enough.

Quin Browne said...

i use the same works.

i'm proud of you... for standing up for what you believe in.

genes are odd things... you've seen photos of my kids--two are dark haired, with black eyes and olive skin. one is pale blonde with blue eyes and white, white skin. same parents.

i think the whole light skin thing goes back to class in some countries...if you were pale skinned, it meant you didn't go out to work, you were inside... so, you were wealthy. just as at one point, if you were of a good body weight, it was desirable, because it meant you could afford food.

sadly, now that means other things, and a different post.

in the states, everyone wants to be tanned, they go to shops that spray tanning solution on, they go to tanning beds, they put on tanning lotion.

go figure.

people need to be proud of who they are... sadly, too many aren't.

Melissa said...

this post reminds me of my high school days when girls were so obsessed about getting their skin fairer/ whiter/shits like that. there used to be this product called 'tawas', im not sure if you've heard of it before but it was really famous and was selling like hotcakes among the malay girls in my school. the result was scary. instead of having fairer skin, their skin got peeled off and revealed the skin beneath it which mostly looked oddly pale and 'shiny' and i swear i can even see blood vessels on their faces, in the most unnatural way imaginible. and it really does hurt alot, i have a friend who used it and regreted doing so. urgh, so much for beauty is pain...

Zikri said...

Congrats! you've made it to number 4 in scary women that i dont want to get scolded by!

do people apply skin whitening crap all over the body or just the face? if just the face, how does that work? O_o

Bercinta Laju-Laju said...

The King of Pop mengalami masalah kulit tuan:

Brown is good. Apa gunanya pale skin kalau ketrampilan tidak dijaga dengan baik.

Brownies sedap.

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

Blue Floppy Hat:

YES!! My dad says the same thing to me to. He's like "Oh you'll be much prettier if only you are fairer."

To which I replied "Dad. We have brown skin. Let it go." =p

Fabulously Broke:

Yeah totally. Sun block is your friend.


Wow Tine, you put it down in words better than I could. That's what it is in the end isnt it? They are unsatisfied with themselves they way they are.

"Oh I'll be prettier if I'm thinner/have blond hair/WHITER skin and that bullshit."

Life is already hard. Prejudiced and discrimnation is everywhere, from everyone else. Why should you inflict another one to your ownself?

Shit makes no sense.

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

Quin: you use the same kind of voice with your children too? My mom gives me goosebumps when she uses it. I hope mine would have the same effect on other people =D

Yes its genes. There's nothing much ppl can do bout the skin colour but yet they still wanna change it. Its strange. I dont get it. Its like when other ppl are opposed of it, the more they want to change it.

With me when ppl tell me the fact that I have brown skin makes me ugly- I wanna fight some more saying that its not. And that this is me. And I am beautiful. I should be proud of it.

Everyone should be proud of their own skin..........but yet the whitening creams is the best selling range in all skin care products.Sad.


"Tawas"?....Hmmmmm macam pernah dengar but not sure lah. See, its crazy.

Bitches have just be happy with their skin and let it be.


Number 4? Number 4?! Damn, I'm dissapointed I dont get a higher number than that. =p

Okay most of the products target the face. You use that thing for like a year and then you can see the difference la. But its not like you terus become Mat Salleh. Doesnt work like that.

You get like maybe 1 shade or two shades brighter. Think uuhhhh.......... Ning Baizura's skin tooooo Jeniffer Lopez's skin. Something like that.

As for body there are like products such as lotions and body wash. Repeated use and ambil masa but if its the right product, it'll work. But one you stop using it. Back to your skin colour lah.

See, I just gave you a tutorial there. Heh.

bercinta laju-laju"

"Brownies sedap".

Hmmmmm... that has double meaning....or Im just perverted? =p

Maverick SM said...

In my opinion, brown skin is equally beautiful. What is important for skin is it is healthy and with little blemish, smooth and not rough. But it is subjective.

firsfc said...

You know I completely agree with you. Before this pretty much every media was going on about how only fairer skin made you attractive. This clearly made me feel very unattractive for a majority portion of my life, until I came to a place where people liked me because I was dark and not ghostly white. Never again did I feel like I needed whitening products to help me. I am glad you told the lady off so she wont assume that people need to be fair to be attractive, :D

Kuan said...

funny, white people just wants to be tan like mocha latte olive tone. Prepared fake tan spray all in a can in all pharmacies. how bout that?

thoroughly impress with how you intimidate that girl. poor poor girl. probably just learnt that tactic from her training in order to sell their pathetic fair skin range products.

women have to be fair in asia while a real men everywhere else seems like have to be somewhat tan. I am the curse of that but have soon come to embracing it. if you're bald, there's a reason, because you would look bloody good bald, or in caps, hats, whatever, you would just look good if you shave it off. there's a reason why you're bald.

if you're fair with black hair? bloody good. there's a reason. because a black dolce gabbana suit with crisp white shirt n skinny ties would look bloody bloody good on you! there's a reason :)

winda said...

Hi CD, my first time commenting here though i've lurk your blog for some time already hahaha..

Yep, same thing happen in indonesia too!! There's this brand with their newest range of whitening products had a somewhat miniseries commercial. It's good (in a romantic sense) though the message is ofcourse, sooo shalllooww!!!
Like, you gonna find your love just because you're getting fairer in 7days' time??
And another product in which the girl in the commercial get noticed by the man because she's fairer now.

i think those men are just shallow!! hahha.. Looking for women by just their skin color? eww...

It really is a mystery why asian girls want to whiten their skin while the caucasians' tanned theirs.

the Constantly Dramatic One said...


I completely agree. What's important is there condition of the skin. Not the colour of it.


True. I mean it's great that you are in a place where the colour of your skin is not viewed as a flaw, but in fact an asset. Too bad I'm still stuck here and no such thing as that here.



I love how you put that "There's a reson for everything" in a really funny way. So point is, lets just be happy with the way we look, eh? =)


Thanks so much for lurking my blog. Lurk some more, I dont mind =P

And yes, damn those mini series thing where "Ouuuu he fell in love cause of my fair and radiant skin". I mean WTF is that bullshit?!! What the hell does skin colour have to do with love???!!!! That just means that when you run out of suply of the damn product, he would leave you to go chase after some fairer chick? Fucking stupid man.

I hate them marketing bastards.