The Lighter, The Whiter, The Brighter, The Better

Seriously Asia, what the hell?

I’ve grown accustomed to a lot of your quirks and foibles in the past 3 years but this one, this one just makes my head spin.

Nivea display case... with many whitening options.

Caucasian culture on the slide. America’s place as the sole super power shakes like a house of cards in a hurricane. The Hollywood magic continues to exert an inordinate amount of influence across the globe. America lost the Vietnam War, however due to their entertainment exports they still hold major sway in this corner of South East Asia.

I first noticed this… addiction to lighter, whiter skin in South Korea. After a field trip to a (small) water park, during which time the Korean women wore globes and hats large enough to be mistaken for umbrellas, on the drive back to the hagwon one of the teachers offered me some hand lotion. Being polite I took the tube, read the label and handed it right back to her. The hand lotion offered to whiten my skin… by using bleach. I’d rather risk melanoma than intentionally bleach my skin.

It took a while but I figured out the fascination with lighter skin in Asian cultures. It is not *just* the Western Entertainment Influence. In historical times, lighter skin denoted royalty or the educated elite, the people who could afford or were employed to stay indoors, whereas darker skin implied a farmer or labourer. Lighter skin equated to better social and financial status.
That makes sense, in a certain anachronistic way, but doesn’t really explain the current infatuation with the whiter, the brighter, the better.

Listen, I get that white teeth are pretty. It isn’t by accident that most toothpaste advertisements have actors of African, Asian or Mediterranean descent. Teeth look whiter against darker skin.

Two types to white.

Today though in the local  Co-op Mart what I found staggered and boggled my mind.

People want to look their best, some feel it helps to dye their hair, or lighten their skin or tan their skin or pierce their ears or paint their nails or… pick your self-improvement vice. I get that. I do.
I am also aware that the vast majority of beauty and skin care products are aimed at women.

But can someone please, please, please tell me why the blue hell Vietnam I’d want to lighten my damn armpits?

Armpit lightening. Really? For men and women?

Will this whiten my armpit hair? And I don't want to know what the eau de toilet will whiten!

Because never let them see you sweat…
if you must though… make sure you’re sporting smooth, white pits.

Honestly Asia, embrace your history, your culture, your skin colour.
(Or wear a shirt).

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