by Satoru Kishi
There are mainly three factors that have caused Filipinos to believe in the misleading conception that ‘dark meant you were lower class, ugly and unimportant’ (p.61), pressuring them to utilize skin-whitening cream. The first cause was the historical colonization by the Spanish and Americans, which lasted for approximately 500 years. During this period, Filipinos were discriminated against and taught that they were inferior to the ‘whites or the western people’. This notion did not disappear due even after the decolonization era, due to what was carried out by companies. They used this false notion created in the colonial era and saw it as a business opportunity. They advertised and brainwashed the community that “darkness is evil or not good”. This misbelief boosted the demand for skin-lightening cream, a market area for companies to make money.
In the late 20th century, the globalization further intensified, and the western value of beauty spread across the globe, destroying the traditional values in some developing countries. All of these three factors, directly or indirectly, have contributed in encouraging Filipinos to consume massive quantities of skin-lightening cream. As of 2003, over 50% of Filipinos have used them, and they consume over 2 million as a whole. If this continues, it will gradually lower their self-esteem.
In order to prevent this, it is necessary to take action. One solution is that the government could put effort in consolidating a Filipino/Asian Movement through indirectly regulating what figurative person can appear on media and advertisement. This is an extreme method. Another way is to establish and promote the notion of Filipino Beauty that is different from Asian Beauty or the sense of Western Beauty. If it becomes successful, this will strengthen self-esteem and identity of its citizens.
Challenging the author’s definition of ideal Asian beauty
Joanne Rondilla describes the Filipino notion of an ideal Asian beauty or ‘the right kind of Asian’ as follows: “white skin, jet-black hair, and delicate, almond-shaped obsidian eyes” (p. 68).
To challenge this notion, I conducted the survey. One of my Japanese friends at Ritsumeikan answered the characteristics of Asian women, which differed from Korean and Chinese students who took the survey as well. The survey is attached below. Despite the fact that the result of the survey may not be reliable, since it is not asked to a large number of people, this generates questions to the author’s depiction of notions of Asian Beauty.
To conclude, there is no identical notion of ideal Asian Beauty throughout Asia. I am taking a survey for Race and Ethnicity Class to find out whether the notion/image of Asian beauty is same in all places.
Q1: Please describe your image/stereotype of Asian Beauty. What kind of facial characteristics/phenotypes should that woman have? (Including hair, skin tone and shape of eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows and etc. )
Q2: Who would best suit the term Asian Beauty?
Thank you for answering our survey.