The latest news around here in the United States is about the woman who has been accused of taking her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth, burning the girl’s skin. But soon enough the focus went from a story about child abuse to making fun of the deeply bronze-colored mother when people saw her picture (see below).
Obsession with skin tone among women is everywhere. Americans spend long hours tanning under the sun or pay weekly or monthly visits to tanning salons. Arab and Indian women use skin-lightening products like there is no tomorrow. Many Malaysian women wear long white gloves in the summer while driving or riding their motorbikes.
Americans look at bronze women as sex symbol while Arabs are fond of white women. Alas, some women exaggerate when changing their skin tone. In the U.S., I saw orange color faces like a basketball. In Jordan and Malaysia, I saw brown and olive-skin women with faces as white as baby powder.
I am not sure if “Fair & Lovely” skin-lightening creme is still the number one product in Jordan but I remember it was very popular, ten years ago. Their ads where everywhere and all were about sad, ugly and dark-skinned woman before using “Fair&Lovely.” Here is one from India. You don’t need to understand the language but watch till the end and you will be shocked:
These ads were stupid and demeaning to women implying that only light skin women can have a successful life. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about the product:
Hindustan Unilever’s “Fair and Lovely” is the leading skin-lightening cream for women in India. The company was forced to withdraw television advertisements for the product in 2007. Advertisements depicted depressed, dark-complexioned women, who had been ignored by employers and men, suddenly finding new boyfriends and glamorous careers after the cream had lightened their skin. [source]
Women are very sensitive about their skin tone I no longer use it to describe someone because I learned my lesson the hard way. Here is why:
During my study in Malaysia, I rented a room from an Indian-Malaysian woman who lives with her mother in a big two story house. One day, I was alone in the house when a woman came asking for the land-lady. I told her the land lady is not at home and she left. Later, when the land-lady came here is what happened:
Me: A woman came asking for you when you were out.
Land-lady: Oh…I think I know who she is. Did she tell you her name?
Land-lady: Does she have a fair skin? [she wanted to double check that she knows the woman]
Of course the embarrassing moment for me was when I found out that the land-lady’s friend is considered to have a fair skin compared to Malaysians and Indians. It was not a pleasant moment for.
Nothing wrong with women wanting to make themselves look prettier but the process should not be overwhelming. Satisfaction about ones self is the key.