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.