Philippine Festival - Tells A Story
Image courtesy of JAMIR Design – Photography and Design Services in the Philippines.

To those of you with dark skin, please know that you are beautiful. I know that the media perpetuates this idea that light skin is some sort of ideal, but it is the media which is wrong — not you.

This Filipino obsession with whiteness is one that shaped my earliest years. Everyone, from family to friends to strangers would comment on the lightness of my skin. They would praise my paleness as if it were some sort of accomplishment rather than the result of DNA inherited from my American father

Society has upheld this lie that white skin is more beautiful than dark skin which is often associated with the poorer classes.

So many Filipinos turn to dangerous skin-lightening practices in order to make their skin whiter. I’ve had people tell me that I am lucky I do not have to undergo these procedures since I was already born light. I do not view this as a compliment; instead I beg them to reconsider. I beg them to love their skin, to celebrate their darkness because the history of our people can be found in their pigmentation.

This preference for light skin can be traced back to the Spanish colonizers who forced a caste system upon us in which those of European ancestry were ranked far above those dark-skinned people of native descent. Now, several generations later, we have overthrown white conquerors but still want our skin to look like theirs. Why?

We are a people who come in many different shades, and each one is beautiful. This rainbow of colors shows the history of our people. Some Filipinos reflect the darkness of their Malay ancestors. Others are lighter like their Chinese great-great grandparents. Still more carry traces of Spanish blood in their skin. Our history has been influenced by different cultures, and this diversity makes us strong.

The color of your skin tells a story. The history of our people is written in our DNA. Do not erase this history. Do not erase your heritage. Bleaching your skin does not just rob you of your color, it rejects the richness of our culture.