Unquestioned assumptions in skin lighteners

by Jun Sakakibara

This chapter showed that how the Philippine’s skin color consciousness reminds uniqueness since it is influenced by its historical background and shaped by the media’s effects caused by globalization. It was explained that in the Philippines, “skin lightening” does not always refer to “skin whitening”, and because East Asian or Chinese Asian looks are considered as ideal images of beauty, “being Asian” should be respected. However, I found it contradicting that the fact some people keep complaining that they are not white enough yet. If “being Asian” is fine, shouldn’t we represent our yellow skin color?!

By pointing out the characteristic of skin lightening companies’ strategies on advertisements in Asia, we can see how they have been spreading the market with using and brainwashing people with “unquestioned assumptions”. They emphasize the idea of “Euroasian” as promoting half-European, half-Asian models in advertisements, however, it is actually making concept of beauty so ambiguous. It was mentioned that “Euroasian” would be a new beauty regime. The paradox here is that there is nothing “new” about since its idea is very exclusive and Eurocentric. The models are European-looking women who are just covered with Asian straight black hair and are representing very much of their whiteness. In addition to this repacking of white-is-beautiful concept, skin products companies justify themselves by arguing “lightening” and “bleaching” are different thus there is nothing wrong to consume skin lightening products. Yet it is questionable whether there is an absolute difference between these two words. For the companies, wave of globalization is very great profitable source to spread their market worldwide, though, we have to understand that due to negative effects of globalization, our images are totally controlled so that we are being those who strengthen the racism or discrimination towards skin color and push the whiteness into much higher social status in fact.

When we discuss about whether this worldwide skin lightening phenomena is needed to be stopped or whether we are even able to stop that, I always think since such “unquestioned assumptions” remind “unquestioned” or are tend to be ignored to discuss, the situation itself would never be changed. I guess people are now realizing the paradox or problems behind the assumptions little by little, however, because usage of skin lightening products somehow lead us to happiness, we cannot get rid of them. Although it is a very complicated issue, the first thing we have to do is to accept the existence of “unquestioned assumptions” and to bring them into the discussion. We do not need to go straight for the discussion of the necessity of skin lightening products. We need to understand what we are exactly doing by investigating our money on those products and to learn how they can be problematic at the same time. I assume that this process holds very important key for the discussion of not only the skin lightening products but also of skin color consciousness in general as well.

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