The big WHY on Skin Whitening and Hair Straightening

WARNING: This post is mean. Ang matamaan, huwag magalit. Ang papalag, manahimik. Ang mag-agree, please feel free to comment.

Days ago I bumped in to an old friend. Let’s call him P.

P and I went to the same high school together, and I would say he was one of the best looking students back then. One particular feature I admired about him was his skin – smooth, clean, and it had a creamy glow (as another friend would call it, “mala-evaporada”). For standards back then, he was tisoy.

Fast forward to our most recent encounter, I noticed that P looked different (well, of course, 10 years does change a lot in a person). I am pointing out the way his skin looks now.

He is whiter than before. Only this time, instead of the enviable “mala-evaporada” skin, he had an optic white, lifeless complexion. Pale, pasty and flat.  It seemed to me like Edward Scissorhands and Morticia Addams just had a kid and he’s now standing in front of me.

I was so unimpressed I wanted to slap him just to give him some color…strike some health into his looks.

Stepping back a few months ago, I remember a co-worker I’ll call J. she had nice, thick, healthy hair with subtle waves. She usually wore it in a bun or a ponytail. She was pretty.

One day, J came to work and gave me quite a shock I was bothered the whole day. She had her hair straightened sharp. It looked like frozen horse tail and smelled a little funky. Worst of all, the style made her face look like a big glob of dough.

I tried to ask her to convince me on how strong she felt that what she did was a good thing for her. She simply drowned me with facts such as not having to wash her hair for 3 days, not ever using a ponytail again and to look forward to her next hair straightening treatment. Crazy! I was unimpressed.

I am not a big fan of straight hair, especially if it’s fake – unless it’s on some cute asianovela star or Victoria Beckham.

Now these two radical (call it chemical if you must) changes of physical attributes are just examples of how we perceive beauty.

My question is WHY?

It’s funny because we think of white skin and straight hair as representations of beauty (in the Filipino sense). But if you think of it, have you ever seen a Miss Universe with straight hair and pale white skin? (at least the last 6 ones)

Unnatural white skin lacks sex appeal. It’s pale and unexciting. It catches attention, but in my opinion, it makes the personality seem interesting as cardboard (I love saying this haha!).

Straight hair is equally plain and simple… and that also translates to the personality impression of the one carrying it.

I’ve always believed that every bit of physical feature we have, from color to quality to size, all work together perfectly to create the person package. Any changes to get the opposite look will just throw off one’s very own physical design. And it may not be pretty at all.


On a related note:

For the past years I’ve been working for one of the country’s top international fashion institutions. It was part of our corporate culture for employees to always look their best at work and be aligned with current trends and high taste.

90% of my workmates were female – most of them coming from rich and prominent backgrounds. Well-travelled, highly fashionable, vain.

Basically, these girls had good taste.

Surprisingly, none of them wanted to have white skin (although most were real mestizas)- in fact, they were the ones always wishing to have a permanent, perfect summer tan – and always made it a point to have their hair done in lovely curls and big waves. They looked gorgeous, confident and eye-catching.

One mean and nasty running joke we’d always hear was that one common place to find fake white skin and chemically straightened hair is at carinderias – – behind the counter.


6 thoughts on “The big WHY on Skin Whitening and Hair Straightening

  1. so true rain..I agree. i hope this article could enlighten everyone. in fact there are only few super white skin are existing nowadays..and most of them are endorsers of china products…

  2. Thanks for this article. HAHAHA, I really appreciate when white skin and straight hair are glorified as epitome of “beauty” in Philippine standards. Kasi, in the foreign sense, if your hair is super-straight, it’s like it’s nice, but it has NO style. Those who have naturally-straight hair usually curls it, as if they want their hair to have style. Actually, I am not very fair-skinned (although some people would tell me that I’m fair, but not fair enough) and me hair is so like f*cked up, but I have to be frank about this: Being white-skinned and straight-haired as “beauty” is so-like one-sided. If that is “beauty” in the Filipino sense, then the Filipinos have not much taste at all. It’s like they glorify Chinese beauty (I have to admit, it’s very enviable) more than Western beauty. Western beauty is more diverse; for the Chinese, they don’t like straight hair.

    Again again, arigato gozaimasu for the article. It makes me feel like the spokesperson for those who aren’t “Chinese-looking” enough.

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