Lighter skin as an escape from discrimination

by Chris Leung

In Hong Kong, it is also popular for women to lighten their skin. Since in the old days, having lighter skin has meant a woman did not have to work, so she was more noble than those who had darker skin. As the result, lighter skin signifies higher social status and eventually it lead to the definition of beauty.

However, in most cases, no matter where you are, I think that instead of saying lightening your skin is a choice, it is more appropriate to say that it is just an exit door in order to escape from discrimination. Let’s say if you have dark skin and you were discriminated against, can you say that skin lightener is a choice for you? Or is it a path towards salvation for you? Can you proudly say that you chose these products ‘freely’? People who want to have higher social status lighten their skin. Although there are exceptions that some dark skin people could also enjoy higher social status, or some of them chose to keep their darker skin even if they would have a poorer life, the outcome of having darker skin and lighter skin are obviously different because of colorism. If most of the people think that lightening their skin could benefit them, can it still be called as a choice?

Further, I think that money cannot justify everything especially moral values. It is true that because of development, we might have to lose some of our traditional stuff in order to fit into society. For instance, we have to give up building traditional architectures in which few people can live, instead we build skyscrapers because of increasing population and limited lands. But lightening our skin is definitely not because of evolution or development, but to fit into a society which is full of discrimination.

In conclusion, I think that reducing the yearning of lightness is not because keeping diversity is important, but the values of everyone living equally is essence. Even though there are people who are rich and people who are poor, the way to wealth you have should be based on your own efforts and abilities, but never should be based on your racial appearances. The main issue about skin lightening is not the huge industry that many people live from it, but fundamentally, it is devaluing certain skin color, which is an act of discrimination.

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