An Englishman In Isabela Blog Whitening Agents

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

It amazes me how much Filipinos spend on whitening products such as lotions and soaps. The store shelves are packed with all kinds of products to ensure that whiter look. In fact the Philippines is reputed to be one of the biggest global users of these products. So while Europeans lie on the beach trying to get that darker tan, women here prefer to avoid the sun.
On even an average sunny day you see women walking along the street with umbrellas, or holding up sheets of paper or cardboard, or covering their heads with a piece of cloth, some toweling, or a handkerchief, anything to keep out the sun.
Which reminds me of a curious experience I had in Hawai a few years ago when waiting for a bus. This middle-aged lady, with quite a light skin, did everything she could to stand in my shadow. So every time I moved or adjusted my stance, she would adjust accordingly to maintain her protection from the sun. Despite the heat she was wearing a smart white dress and white gloves. Maybe she had a skin problem and had to avoid ultraviolet light. I never asked, but it was very strange being used as a human sun shade.
Although whitening of some part of the body is almost an obsession Filipino skins vary in their depth of browness anyway. Reflecting the complex history of racial and tribal origins, some are incredibly dark, almost black, while others are quite pale. So what is it about the whiter skin that makes Filipinos want to immitate Michael Jackson? Is it is the effect of advertising campaigns promoting a whiter look? I don’t have the answer yet.

0 comments for “An Englishman In Isabela Blog Whitening Agents

  1. Starshadow Rivaulx
    August 25, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Maybe it’s a by-product of colonial history, where the lighter-skinned Spanish and Americans were the ruling classes? Therefore, equating white skin with improving one’s social status.

    Easily observable in Manila, where the aristocracy are quite obviously of Spanish descent. More recently, of Chinese descent – and the fair complexions of Chinese women are legendary, yes?

    It’s like…um, like those landed families in the UK? It was all right to make money off trade, just as long as you didn’t look as you were obviously working behind an office desk. So women here, while smart and hardworking, also like to project that they have the means to not pick up a pot and scrub it.

    Eh. It sounded better in my head. But for as long as I can remember, people have had this idea that if you’re white, it’s all right.

  2. August 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Not 100% sure on the white thing as it probably pre dates the colonials and more to do with ceremony of some kind. Such as the powdering, a lot of the white in the UK and excess powdering should I say was down to hiding scars from diseases such as small pox.