Filipinos and the Color Complex: Ideal Asian Beauty

by Maiko Takada

I would like to discuss about Asian beauty by answering two questions from the discussion in class.

First, “why do Japanese cosmetic commercials use only Japanese models to represent?” According to the text book, it is common to use mixed-race models in cosmetic advertising all over Asia because such models are seen to have global appeal and inspire sales. However, why this idea does not fit in Japanese case? In my opinion, it’s because models in the cosmetic advertisement represent majority of women in the country. To increase the sales, advertisers show that how the products are effective for majority of consumers. In most of the case, models become more beautiful by using products in advertisement. And consumers who saw the advertisement would buy products because they link themselves to models and believe that they also become beautiful just like models by using products. Therefore, models need to have similar feature with consumers such as hair color, eye color, or skin color. If models have totally different feature from consumers, consumers pay attention to model’s feature rather than effect of products. For instance, if American models had big eyes in cosmetic advertisement, Japanese consumers do not think that model’s eyes became bigger because of products. Instead, consumers believe that model’s eyes are big by nature because they are American. Since there are many mixed-race people in multi-racial countries in Asia such as Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, mixed-race models are more acceptable than pure-race models for consumers in such countries. On the other hand, Japanese cosmetic commercials tend to use Japanese models because “pure-Japanese” are majority in Japan.

Second, “since definition of beauty has changed through out the centuries, do you think that the sense of beauty will stay light or shift to tanned?” By looking back the trend of skin color, it seems that light skin and tanned skin had been the vogue by turns. In the case of Japan, light skin had been seen as beauty in 平安 period. Since there was no electronic system in that period, women put white powder on their skin to emphasize their face in the dark. In contrast, many young people went to beach or tanning salon to get tanned because tanned skin had been seen as “cool” or “fashion” in 1980’s. However, people have noticed that sun rays cause skin cancer and started to aim being 美白 from 1990s. I personally do not want to be lighter than my natural skin color but I do care about getting damage of sun rays. Therefore, I put sunscreen on my skin every day. It seems that light skin is the main stream of definition of beautiful skin color in recent years. In the case of skin lighteners in South Africa that we learned couple weeks ago or Japanese people who get tanned to be cool has similar tendency. That is, lack of knowledge about physical effect. People aimed to get ideal skin color but did not concern about toxic chemical in skin lighting or risk of skin cancer. Since many people know that changing skin color by force is unhealthy now, I think definition of beauty would be “staying natural skin color to keep healthy skin condition”. Fading acne or freckles by using cosmetics is acceptable to stay healthy skin but I do not think people would try to change their skin color by destroying their epidermis anymore.

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One thought on “Filipinos and the Color Complex: Ideal Asian Beauty

  1. Do you think Japanese women use more sunscreen than people in other countries? Daily use seems quite frequent to me, especially since we spend most of our time indoors. Also, we talk about wanting our “natural” skin tone, but which tone is that? Our skin tone changes depending on our age and how much we’re in the sun.

    One of the points Glenn and Rondilla make is that advertisers have used (and increased) health concerns as part of their marketing. We can see that in the changes in marketing in different countries. However, there are health risks associated with the use of sunscreens, For example, most sunscreens contain oxybenzone, which is a hormone disruptor and skin allergen. Retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) has also been linked to skin cancer. Here’s a handy guide: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/infographic/

    In Japan, there is little regulation of healthcare products, so we see lots of ads for products that make claims about how the products help people lose weight, etc. How much regulation is there for skin care products?

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