Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Make Me White

I'm watching a fascinating programme on BBC1 called 'Make Me White'. It is about the Asian community and how much pressure there is within it for young women to appear light skinned.

The market for whitening creams is huge in Asia, something I had a lot of exposure to in my old life at L'Oreal. I have to say, I don't have a huge issue with responsible companies having a presence in the whitening market as it ensures that there are 'safe' options available. However, I hope that the trend for whiter skin slows considerably with future generations as there is absolutely no substitute for natural beauty. As a fair skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed gal I often look at images of stunning women such as Aishwarya Rai and I sometimes wish I had features and a skin tone as stunning as hers.

It is normal to desire what you don't have. Curly haired women lust after straight locks and vice versa. Caucasian people flock in their millions to the beach every summer longing after tanned (darker) and therefore beautiful skin.

It definitely works both ways.
If I just take our Model Search as an example, a lot of girls that have entered themselves in Group E, designed for women of Latin origin with medium to tan skin tone, are actually very pale. But if you take into consideration all the fake tan......they suddenly appear darker.

Why are we all so hell bent on damaging our skin to look different?

I'd be interested to know whether more caucasian women use fake tan over asian women using skin whitening products?
At the end of the day, beauty products are there for us to help us feel confident and good about ourselves. Who are we to judge what is right or what is wrong? As a retailer, I am happy to offer people the products they want. But when it comes to giving advice, I'd always encourage people to make the best out of their natural features as no doubt they are the envy of somebody else!


  1. I hope this program appears here in the US. When I was a little girl growing up partly in Japan, kids made fun of me because I wasn't Asian enough in there eyes and yes, a bit white. Here, I was accused of being a banana, you know yellow on the outside white on the inside. Can't please everyone! Soon that fictitious pigmentation procedure that Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) did in the movie Tropic Thunder will be a reality!!

  2. I read about african women trying to be "more white" only then I realise the huge problem is out there. But for me the real problem is ...
    Why people, women, are not happy with themselfs?
    I'm from sound of Europe, very fair for a mediterranen beauty, lol. Both my brothers are very dark skin, in the summer, when tanned you would not believe how dark they get.
    Me? I burn like hell.
    On winter people ask 39087647845 times if I'm sick, because I'm so pale.
    Funny thing, now that I live in England I'm that mediterranen beauty, lol
    Is just with who you compare yourself, and more why you do that!!!!
    Personaly I hate all the fake stuff, I think we should make yourselfs better not trying be other person :!

  3. When I was growing up in thailand, being white is seen as luxury and the "real beauty". There are hardly any actresses or models who are tanned. Whitening products can be found in every street shop and every supermarket. It is actually ridiculous that many women do not go out during the day as they are afraid of the sun.

    When I come across Zuneta Model Search I decided to enter because it was the first model search that is looking for many type of women to represent the company. I am in group F which is medium to tan Asian. Eventhough, all of my relatives back home always complaint about how dark I am, I really can't see what they are talking about. I want to be able to show women out there that they should be happy with what they've got because the real beauty is skin deep.

  4. Thank you ladies for your insightful comments, and thanks Aree for entering the Model Search! Do you know what one of our main motivations for running the Model Search was? It was a complete nightmare finding suitable girls to represent different skin tones last year as it is unfortunately the paler or caucasian girls that are in demand. For us, its really important to choose people that are very representative of the population, not to mention that each ethnic group has very unique features that should be celebrated! Hopefully attitudes will change as people become more accepting and we'll be working hard to try to drive that in our industry!

  5. It's certainly something to do with one culture's perception of beauty. Example, in Chinese culture and Victorian (?) time it's generally perceived that people with lighter skin are "priviledged/upper class" people, as they don't have to work outdoors/in the field like the darker-skinned "commoners".

    I'm of Chinese descent, genetically blessed with light skin tone and a pair of big eyes with double-eyelids, which are amongst the most coveted physical traits. When I lived in Asia people asked me what products I use to get my "white" skin-tone and whether I've had double-eyelids surgery. When I told them I was born this way, they would say that I'm very lucky indeed, as if being white is the "be all, end all" of their existence. They seemed to be blinded to the fact that I have a huge flat nose that goes with my "superior look"!! Little do they know I would happily trade my nose for a smaller one at the price of having darker skin. LOL.

    I probably could write a very long article, if not a book, about my encounters with people who are obsessed with being white. When I was in Kenya I asked my local friends why they called me "mzungu" even though I'm not a Caucasian. You know what their answer was? They put their arms next to mine, and said, "but look, your skin is WHITE compared to ours!". It made me feel quite sad, as they didn't seem to appreciate their beautiful bronze skin...

    My English hubby always tells me that I look more beautiful when I've acquired some holiday tan. So I can't please everyone, really. :D

    I suppose people are just being people, the grass is always greener on the other side.