Skin Bleaching - I hate it, but my skin loves it

by Valerie Vibar 6 months ago in skincare

Just being honest

Skin Bleaching - I hate it, but my skin loves it
You think "Extra white" is bad? HA! HAHAHA!

I was born and raised in the Philippines, a country in the Pacific where people have beautiful brown skin. However, the Philippines is also, arguably, the skin bleaching capital of the world. The celebrities are mostly half-white (or East Asian because they still have lighter skin than the locals). The commercials are bombarded with lightening products that tell little girls that they're not beautiful unless they have light skin. Amongst friends, they'd tease you if you were the darkest in the group. Amongst men, they wouldn't swing their heads towards women who had curves - they'd swing their heads towards women who were as pale as paper.

This colorist attitude is a normal phenomenon in my country. Years ago, I was a fan of this Philippine sitcom where they constantly made fun of this woman because she had dark skin, and the insults were brutal and enough to mentally and emotionally damage the poor lady and the little children watching it. Since I was one of those little children, I did develop this massive insecurity regarding my skin color and my features. Believe me, I did almost everything to change my appearance. I had whitening facial wash, whitening facial scrub, whitening toner, whitening body cream, whitening soap, whitening deodorant, etc. When I was a teenager, I always colored my hair a lighter color (I was even a blonde for a while). I also always had a pack of colored contacts, specifically the colors blue and green. I was so insecure of myself, and I was addicted to changing my appearance to make me look more white.

Honestly, I know I was a bit extreme, but some people have taken it farther down the rabbit hole than me. There are laser lightening treatments to bleach your skin, and some people inject this enzyme called Glutathione into their blood system because it's proven to lighten a person's skin color. People in the west would gawk at treatments such as those, but it is unbelievably normal in my home country. I've seen friends go from brown skinned to white in a year, and people admired their change instead of feeling uncomfortable. It's the culture over there, and no one's doing anything to change it. Everywhere you look, even the billboards are shouting "turn yourself white!" If you have a hard time believing in me, please look up the women who the Philippines choose to represent our country for international beauty pageants. Our most famous beauty queen is Pia Wurtzbach, Miss Universe 2015, who is half-German. Another one is Catriona Gray, Miss Universe 2018, who is half-Australian.

I started bleaching my skin when I was ten. I used this whitening cream, and I adored seeing my tan skin become lighter. In my innocent mind, I was becoming beautiful.

No one taught me to love my skin color - that is unheard of in the Philippines. Some might say that the world is changing to be more accepting of darker skin. That's true in the Western World. It's different back in my home country. I was recently there just this January 2020, and the amount of whitening products in the local pharmacy doubled.

Anyways, when I was 16, I moved from the Philippines to the USA where I faced a major problem; I couldn't find any whitening products in the pharmacy. I saw tanning products, and that appalled me. In my head, I was thinking, "why do people want to get tan? Make me white!" But skin bleaching is unheard of here in the USA. The media and the people in this country are fighting for self-love and self-acceptance. We have numerous communities with hashtags all over social media promoting the beauty of different skin colors. That's such a magnificent thing to behold, but I wasn't used to it. My mind was on panic mode, and it took me a while to adjust to my new normal. It wasn't a smooth transition either. I avoided the sun, and I always wore a jacket to cover my arms, a cap to cover my face, and sunscreen to keep myself from getting a tan. I'd even walk around with a huge black umbrella just to make sure that none of the sun's rays would hit me. Slowly, as I learned to accept myself and build my self-confidence, I stopped altering my image. I stopped dying my hair. I stopped using colored contacts. I stopped bleaching my skin. I was learning to finally love myself.

Then I moved back to the Philippines when I was 20. I thought that I'd be okay. I developed this thick skin and a lot of self-confidence which eventually disappeared in my 6 years back in my hometown. You see, people complained that I was too confident. I needed to develop some hiya (shame) to fit in with the community (it's another cultural attitude in the Philippines and in other nations not only my own that people have a sense of shame). So I immediately went back to buying whitening cream. Just to be completely fair to myself, I wasn't as obsessed as before. I just needed the cream. That's it. No more facial scrubs, toners, and soap that would bleach my skin. Just the cream. And you can't blame me - loving the color of your skin just isn't a trait of my people.

When I reached 26, I moved back to the US. I faced the same dilemma as I did when I was 16; the lack of skin bleaching products in the local pharmacy. But there's the internet now! So the first thing I ordered online when I landed in LA was the whitening cream that I can't live without! Am I proud of it? No! Am I honest about my obsession? Very much so.

Anyways, it's been two years since I moved to LA, and I'm not really a fan of skin bleaching. I believe that we should all love the color of our skin and that we should be proud of who we are regardless of race, age, sexuality, etc. However, I'm also a hypocrite. I observe my skin very closely. I don't use the whitening cream anymore because I'm forcing myself to lose all the insecurity that I developed from my culture, but, when I do notice myself getting tanner, I'm putting that cream on immediately. Westerners may frown at me for doing that, but let's all be honest - I see your tanning creams in the local pharmacy.

Valerie Vibar
Valerie Vibar
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