Culture shock: Does it matter if you’re brown or white?

Photo via gmanetwork.com

Photo via gmanetwork.com


By Maria Grippo/rapler.com – I’ve been exposed to many new, shocking and exciting things during my stay in Manila. This city is definitely a place of contradictions and confrontations: the pollution, the socio-economic wealth imbalances, the painstakingly slow traffic jams during peak hours and the manic Manila driving “code of conduct.”

Going beyond the blatantly obvious, one of the main issues I’ve noticed through watching TV is that, like in most other Asian countries, there seems to be a desire to be ‘white.’ Allow me to extrapolate my thoughts.

The Philippine beauty industry is heavily influenced by Western-American culture and as a result the desire to have white skin basically consumes a considerable portion of beauty campaigns here. On the bus route to work I see billboards here, there and everywhere advertising skincare products containing glutathione, papaya soap, multi-vitamins or herbal teas that claim to “whiten and purify the layers of the skin.” Really? My inner cynic thinks otherwise.

I’m led to wonder whether people truly believe that supposedly ‘effective’ fruit and vegetable extracts or other harmful substances can make a naturally darker-skinned person obtain the complexion of an Amerikano? Plastic surgery and skin bleaching can only go so far as to make superficial changes – it’s impossible to alter the DNA that you have and that your potential future children will inherit.

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