July 14, 2010

"When it's healthy and cared for, our skin has the natural ability to maintain a light tone and clear texture."

"Unfortunately, when it's exposed to the sun, the skin's natural lightening processes are interrupted. Pigment producing cells become increasingly active, tanning the skin, and leaving it several shades darker than it's supposed to be."

97 comments:

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Synova said...

I knew a woman who told me that if she got a job as a domestic in Kuwait for a year she'd come home with beautiful pale skin, so working 15 hour days and never being allowed to go out and never seeing the sun was a good thing.

It's silly to equate this with wanting to look caucasian when what it is, is a desire not to look like a field laborer in cultures where very many people are and quite a few still live in grass huts.

The idea isn't to look white, the idea is to look like an Indian (or in the case of my friend, Filipina) who works indoors.

t-man/wurly/henry buck said...

"An Aryan glow from head to toes"

Classic.

rhhardin said...

Exposure to the moon isn't doing skin any good either.

Dead Julius said...

That's great! Score one for individual choice.

Trooper York said...

I got a really bad sunburn on the cruise.

I think that is why they kept following me around in the stores in Canada.

Trooper York said...

The Captains hat and the six pack of beer had nothing to do with.

Dead Julius said...

Maybe we should all pitch in and order a case for Obama?

EDH said...

Not exactly the first product to come along promising to "remove ugly blackheads."

Shanna said...

It's silly to equate this with wanting to look caucasian when what it is, is a desire not to look like a field laborer in cultures where very many people are and quite a few still live in grass huts.

It's no different from European women wearing hats and gloves to avoid freckles, really. Sun affects your complexion, no matter what color you are I guess.

jayne_cobb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lemondog said...

Sixty Grit said...
RACIST!!!

Well, at least it's not a racist American company.

According to this Advertising & Society abstract fairness creams are common in India.

Unilever just taking advantage of market sentiment.

Lem said...

Light skin, white latinos I know who go regularly to the Dominican Republic see their skin change to darker tones while there.. it goes back when they come back.

Maybe its our body protecting itself from the harm of sun rays.. Its not political.

Dead Julius said...

People who use this product probably get more self-confident when they see their resulting lighter skin.

The increased self-confidence would likely make them more bold. And, thus, probably more uppity too.

So it's likely that this product will alleviate the darkness of your skin while making you more uppity.

c3 said...

I always use factor 15 because I can only burn.....


I'm a racist

bagoh20 said...

There are worse fates than death with a tan.

Gabriel Hanna said...

It's silly to think that other cultures would have any awareness of our racial shibboleths.

virgil xenophon said...

Fair skin is ALWAYS a sign of societies' elites in EVERY culture the world over--be it in South and Central America where fair-complected, blond, blue-eyed desendents of the Spanish dominate TV soaps to the Germanic blond, blue/green eyed northern Italians compared to their shorter statured, swarthy black-haired southern brethren, or northern light-skinned Japanese compared to their darker-skinned cousins on Okinawa. And here in the US light-skinned "soft"-haired female mixed-race light-skinned blacks are much preferred sexually to their darker-skinned sisters with "hard"/kinky hair--as witnessed by their predominance in almost all music hip-hop videos and ads on TV. Light-skinned, mix-raced Movie stars/singers from Lena Horne to Halle Berry, Beyonce and Mariah Carey are prime examples in the entertainment industry. And let us not forget Louisiana Creoles--many of whom were once slave-owning "free men of color" in pre-Civil War days--many of whom also were so light-skinned and possessed of such caucasian features that they could migrate to L.A. in great numbers post WWII and "passe blanc" if they so chose.

(The only historical exception I've read about to this general rule is that of French soldiers in West colonial Africa who sexually preferred those African females with the blackest,, "shiniest" skin possible according to contemporaneous descriptions)

AC245 said...

... and those two options are completely unrelated, right Synova ?

The provincial ignorance of racebaiting checkmate-bitches like danielle is amazing.

edutcher said...

This is what I'm telling The Blonde, "You really don't want to tan anyway".

Indo-Aryan is a racial, as well as linguistic, group. Given that the Gypsies originated in India, it's ironic Hitler persecuted them since they were the real Aryans.

t-man/wurly/henry buck said...

"An Aryan glow from head to toes"

Glad I didn't say that. Next thing, Alpha will be accusing all the Althouse Hillbillies of flaunting our ethnic superiority.

kristinintexas said...

I was flipping through a woman's magazine in Indonesia once (not that I could read it or anything) and saw an ad for some lotion that was supposed to lighten the skin, complete with before-and-after pictures. The irony was really amusing to me, being a fair skinned person myself who always wished I could get a decent tan. Then I told the twenty-something Indonesian girl who was with me that in America, we have these booths we sit in that shoot ultraviolet rays at us to make our skin darker, because everybody wants to be tan. She just laughed at me like I was crazy - I don't think she believed me.

The grass is always greener, etc.

Gabriel Hanna said...

... and those two options are completely unrelated, right Synova ?

danielle, are you really saying that white people never worked in the fields?

Are you really that stupid?

Look up "serf" in the dictionary, or "indentured servitude" for that matter. Who were the serfs in Medieval Europe? White people, genius. And in China they were CHINESE! The mind boggles.

Agricultural slavery has existed for 10,000 years, danielle, all over the world.

virgil xenophon said...

PS: And as Texas border denizen mesquito here can attest--getting a deep suntan for the summer is NOT a high priority of those whites living along the southern border--else they should/might be mistaken for their darker, lower-status Mexican and South/Central American field workers which to predominate the border area.

traditionalguy said...

A Chinese Dermatologist friend told me that he was on the committee that created the spf rating number system. It is simply a report of how many minutes skin on an arm can be exposed to direct sun before it starts to burn. So an 8 gives you 8 minutes, a 15 gives you 15 minutes, etc.. Hardly worth the trouble. He also told me about his younger days in China in The Red Army...he said, TG these officers will kill you for no reason. He was angry at being cheated in an investment deal by a German guy. He was emoting on how such things would be handled in China.

danielle said...

I like that Ann gave you all what she knew would be red meat in the NAACP post, and then threw you a curve ball (well, for you folks anyway) with this post.

its too bad you seem to need to think of everything in the context of your political power struggles with cards and bait and correctness. but i guess many of you are feeling so uncomfortable, and will continue to for 2.5 and hopefully 6.5 years. i suppose you should be expected to overshoot.

danielle said...

Gabriel Hanna is fighting a strawman.

Learn to read more carefully. I only wrote 1 sentence (fragment).

And if you want me to respond, don't be rude.

MayBee said...

The beauty standard in any culture is always that which is least easily attained.

Antebellum Southern women wanted to be pale. Post industrial Americans wanted to look tan.
The Geisha painted their faces white. Greeks liked blond hair.

It has little to do with trying to look like another culture, and more to do with being very special in your own culture.

AC245 said...

And if you want me to respond, don't be rude.

You get what you give, checkmate-bitch.

Synova said...

"It's silly to equate this with wanting to look caucasian when what it is, is a desire not to look like a field laborer in cultures where very many people are and quite a few still live in grass huts."

"... and those two options are completely unrelated, right Synova ?"

Yes.

They are completely unrelated to wanting to look like a Swede.

They are every bit as unrelated to race as the fact that we used to want to be fat or soft and now we want to be skinny or muscular or that white women used to want to be pale and now want to be tan. It's related to wealth signifiers.

Or will you argue that white women who want to tan are doing so because they want to look like people of color instead of just wanting to look like they can afford to lay outside and do nothing, or (these days) pay for a tanning bed?

Are black women in the US (or any other sort of woman of color) who get highlights or bleach their hair out trying to be white? Or do they think it looks really nice and put-together? (And by "put-together" I mean, "not too poor to pay for extensions".)

What about Japanese kids in Japan?

Actually... Historically... what the heck about Geishas?

What about the Song of Solomon? Wanting not to look like one labors under the sun is ancient and evident in cultures with no contact with pale persons.

Just like wanting a few extra pounds to appear affluent existed and exists in cultures who do not feel oppressed by Samoans.

Synova said...

"its too bad you seem to need to think of everything in the context of your political power struggles with cards and bait and correctness."

Really? That's the explanation that just pops up there for you?

I tend to think of it more as being in context with three years living in the Philippines. International sophistication and all that.

BTW... those Bollywood guys are HOT. Wowza!

virgil xenophon said...

PPS: And I forgot to add that, since Anne is an attorney, then she must realize that the entire Louisiana-based Plessy v Ferguson case hinged on the fact that Plessy was a light-skinned "negro" whose features were such that he regularly passed for white--which is why he brought the suit in the first place in that he was regularly allowed to ride in the"whites only" cars until he self-identified as a "person of color" and thus thought the restrictions both illogical and demeaning at the same time.

A.W. said...

Sy

you don't understand. Caste means color. the caste system is the "color" system. it really is every bit as racist as it sounds.

Synova said...

Oh, and I have a sneaky suspicion that as much as anything else this was linked because of the foreign weirdness of an ad touting "Vaseline Men".

Wouldn't YOU like a Vaseline Man?

Next we'll have the ad for "K-Y Ken."

Synova said...

A.W.

Caste is color only because the lower castes are defined by their exposure to the sun and the lowest sorts of labor.

Do you want to look like the guy under the canopy riding on top of the elephant or do you want to look like the guy who walks behind the elephant scooping up the poo?

Roger J. said...

Synova--KY Ken--sign me up!

virgil xenophon said...

Synova/

Or Vermeer's 17th Cent. paintings of portly good Dutch burghers where being over-weight was a sign of wealth and success..

Synova said...

900 BC

"Do not stare at me because I am swarthy,
because the sun has burned me.
My brothers have been angry with me;
they charged me with the care of the vineyards:
my own vineyard I have not cared for.
"

Roger J. said...

AC245--while I am not a supporter Ms Danielle's policy preferences, she did have the decency to apologize shortly after her check mate comment.

danielle said...

Thanks, Roger J.

AC245 said...

AC245--while I am not a supporter Ms Danielle's policy preferences, she did have the decency to apologize shortly after her check mate comment.

As I recall, she apologized for the profanity, not the sentiment behind it. And then she memory-holed the comment. Ah, yes:

"oops =)

sorry, I got carried away. please forgive me for the cursing.

all the Obama hating on display here, though, you should give me a break.
"

(I had forgotten that she even managed to blame the other commenters for what she said.)

AC245 said...

"I'm sorry you made me do that" isn't an apology.

It's a passive-aggressive attack.

Roger J. said...

AC245--I doubt there is ever a perfect apology--I will accept Ms Danielle's at face value--YMMV of course

AC245 said...

Roger J, I'm sorry that danielle's constant dishonesty, rudeness, and racebaiting have made me distrust the sincerity of her apology.

Lem said...

I wonder if this is the Sammy Sosa cream?

It works ;)

Roger J. said...

AC245--fair enough--my only thought is by dwelling on the past sometimes misses important points made in the present--If you havent read it, Douglas McCollough's bio of John Adams spends a lot of time discussing the bitter feud between Jefferson and Adams--at the end they died friends--on the fourth of July 1826--a wonderful historical factoid.

danielle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AC245 said...

AC245--fair enough--my only thought is by dwelling on the past sometimes misses important points made in the present-

Roger J, you're right that I don't see any important points danielle made. All I see from her is her usual ignorant race-baiting and name-calling.

As a favor, could you summarize the important points she made that I missed? I'd like to address the substance of her comments, but I just don't see any.

danielle said...

AC245, If it makes you feel better -- I dont particularly care whether you accept the apology or not.

The apology was esp to Roger J, who I found pleasant and knowledgeable before I got carried away and he took it more personally than I intended (reasonably so, I thought... which is why I apologized). And after that, his tone changed so that pleasantness ended, so we just agree to disagree and to not bother each other.

I know you like to try to antagonize. but even though I typically ignore you, you still like to whine and throw daggers. But that's your choice. And its amusing, so keep it up ! You remind me of the little boys who are always pouting, and run and pull little girls' pig tails in grade -- but since you are probably (well, possibly?) an adult, the behavior is utterly fascinating !

danielle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

Even thou this spat is not with me.. I want to just say that despite our political differences, I found danielle to be courteous and respectful.

Frankly, I think its great that she is willing to come here and engage.. there are more of us conservatives here.

Roger J. said...

AC (and Ms Danielle)--it was privilege many years ago to study political philosophy with a superlative professor, Dr Julian Frankel of Columbia University, who was fond of pointing out that political preferences are value judgments and not facts--as judgments they cannot be right or wrong--they are merely statements of one's preferences and have to be consdered as such. Professor Frankels observation has stood me in good stead for nearly 40 years.

Anyway--off to the gym to propel my body around the track at speed--a good day to all.

AC245 said...

I'd like to address the substance of her comments, but I just don't see any.

I guess you didn't either.

Enjoy your workout.

danielle said...

Thank you, Lem. I always enjoy reading your ideas too ....and talking about basketball !

Lem said...

basketball?

you got to be kidding.

Lem said...

I got to go bye..

Ralph L said...

Mammy recommends buttermilk.

Foobarista said...

Darker skin is a classic class marker in numerous societies and always has been. Chinese society is the same way, which is why you'll see Chinese women wearing Darth Vader visors and walking with umbrellas.

I've always had a rather Marxist notion of beauty definitions: beauty is whatever a healthy member of the ruling elite looks like at the current time. If they're fat, fat is desirable. If they're muscular and tanned from playing lots of golf and tennis, that's desirable.

A.W. said...

Sy

No, it really isn’t just how hard you work.

Thousands of years ago Caucasians came in. they were called the Aryans. They took over the place and put themselves up at the top of the caste system. The lightest skinned people are at the top because they are the most directly descended from white conquerors.

And yes, this is related to all that Aryan crap from the Nazis, sort of. the Nazis got it in their head that the Aryans who conquered India were in fact german and thus took things like the swastika from Indian culture. Indeed some version of the theory claimed that the Aryans were actually aliens who used to live in Atlantis and all kinds of other scattered silliness flows from that.

So to be very blunt, this is about racism. Or at least color. And its not merely a function of sun exposure.

A.W. said...

Sy

and off topic, but check out astroglide. if my wife is to be believed, you will thank me.

SMGalbraith said...

We in the West believe that darker skin makes you look healthy (versus pale and sickly). Those in the East believe that darker skins makes you look sick.

Humans.

All of mankind's problems consist in his inability to sit in the chair and mind his own business.

danielle said...

'We in the West believe that darker skin makes you look healthy (versus pale and sickly).'

i find it kind of comical that i keep reading different versions of this statement.

having dark white skin is far different from being non-white. if tanned white people looked like another race, being tan would not be so esteemed.

case in point: the latino and black women mainstream culture calls beautiful are nearly always of a lighter hue.

like i said before, this belief of yours is based on your need to hold your (american conservative) politics of race together. I'm sure your politics could hold together otherwise, but I think you're feeling insecure at the moment (and for hopefully 6.5 more years).

Synova said...

AW,

And in the Philippines it was the Chinese and there is a lot of hostility toward negritos and other tribal people. But honestly... that's a bit more like Normans and Saxons... the invaders invade because they are powerful. Hostility remains for generations or forever, which ever comes first. What I don't necessarily see is the logic behind wanting to look like your conqueror.

I figured out, BTW, why people in England are so accepting of Africans. It's because they're too busy making sure no one mistakes them for a Scot. Or vice versa. Ethnic hostility is the human condition. That doesn't mean we let it rule us, but it does mean that perhaps we'd understand better what to do about it if we realized it existed independent of "color".

Skin lighteners in India or in the Philippines or Indonesia are cosmetic. When there are other compelling explanations for how any particular culture chooses what is considered beautiful (and that is clearly "wealth") why work so hard to find racist explanations that really can't be broadly applied. A workable theory should apply well to other situations where people go to lengths to change their appearance.

A workable theory should apply to caucasian women who make themselves blond but have no racial subservience to the Norse as well as caucasian women who get collagen injections in their lips without a racial reason having to do with oppression by thick lipped women.

Synova said...

"case in point: the latino and black women mainstream culture calls beautiful are nearly always of a lighter hue."

Or all the gushing over Obama's good looks.

For the record, I always thought he was butt ugly compared to African men with African features and a richer skin tone.

Also, frankly, while some black women who are considered vastly beautiful (say, Halley Barry) are lighter and have more caucasian features (as she might, being mixed) some of the most glamorous and beautiful and acclaimed black women have distinctly African features. Rihanna may bleach her hair out and avoid the sun, but the idea of her "fixing" her nose is ridiculous.

What I've noticed (in keeping with the very handsome model for Vaseline Men) is that the trend for beauty in the US is going distinctly dark in a middle eastern and Indian direction. Not so much on magazine covers at the grocery stores, but check out television show casts.

And those girls aren't fixing their noses either.

Synova said...

"having dark white skin is far different from being non-white. if tanned white people looked like another race, being tan would not be so esteemed."

Well then, lets turn that around.

If I got nice and tanned, darker than I could do just by tanning... I wouldn't look any more Asian/Mediterranean/Persian/African or Australian Aboriginal than any person from any of those ethnic groups would pass for Norwegian if they managed the right coloring. Indian men and women using lightening cremes still look Indian. Japanese ladies still look Japanese even if they go blond.

With the exception of Michael Jackson, it just could be that NONE of these people are trying to look white.

What would admitting that do to your racial/political world view?

How insulting is it, really, to say that a young Filipina doesn't think that her race is the best one in the whole world and it's just that she just doesn't want to look like she works in a rice paddy... particularly when she TELLS you that she doesn't want to look like she works in a rice paddy.

I'm amazed, actually. I was surrounded by people who had almost a compulsion to appear civilized and advanced and it manifested in a variety of ways. Wanting to look like one lived in the city and worked indoors was one of them. Another was a strong disinclination to breast feed. Another was not to admit living in a nipa hut, even if it was nicer than a block house with a tin roof.

But it's all, oh no, Synova, it's really racial insecurity. You can't possibly know what you're talking about.

edutcher said...

After the Civil War, Southern blacks defined a caste system by lightness of skin, as well as whether your people were house or field servants. The lighter the skin, the higher you were on the social scale. danielle needs to read some history and get her brain away from The Daily Worker.

MayBee said...

The beauty standard in any culture is always that which is least easily attained.

Antebellum Southern women wanted to be pale. Post industrial Americans wanted to look tan.
The Geisha painted their faces white. Greeks liked blond hair.


Western civilization valued light skin as a mark of, first, noble birth, and later having made it well enough that you didn't have to bend your back in the sun. The line from "If I Were A Rich Man" where Tevye sees his wife with "a proper double chin" was also along those lines. She didn't need to do physical labor and had acquired some superfluous weight.

danielle said...

"Southern blacks defined a caste system by lightness of skin, as well as whether your people were house or field servants. The lighter the skin, the higher you were on the social scale."

Black people definitely agree with such a 'caste system,' and certainly some had something to do with its origins; but really, do you think it was just black people that prefer(ed) lighter skin black people ? really? I suppose you'd like to believe that white people just went along for the ride, eh ?

SMGalbraith said...

like i said before, this belief of yours is based on your need to hold your (american conservative) politics of race together. I'm sure your politics could hold together otherwise,

For those who like to see everything through politics this is the sort of thing they like to see.

We all congratulate our friends when they come back from vacation looking "tanned and healthy."

If you need to see some nefarious conservative politics in a simple observation, go for it.

I'm going to work on my tan.

Methadras said...

The darkies just want to be whiter. Is that racist?

Methadras said...

A.W. said...

Sy

you don't understand. Caste means color. the caste system is the "color" system. it really is every bit as racist as it sounds.


Those damn Brahmin. The caste system in india is a mess anyway. I work with a lot of Indians and have gotten to know many of them very well and the shit they tell me about the caste system just reaffirms why I'm glad I'm an American.

kimsch said...

There are a lot of Mexican families in the town I live in north of Chicago and south of Milwaukee. Many of the women walk around with umbrellas in the spring and summer to keep the sun off.

wv: soodo

Gabriel Hanna said...

@danielle:

Black people definitely agree with such a 'caste system,' and certainly some had something to do with its origins; but really, do you think it was just black people that prefer(ed) lighter skin black people ? really? I suppose you'd like to believe that white people just went along for the ride, eh ?

What Synova is saying--and I am too I guess--is that all over the world, all through history, cultures developed the same preference for lighter skin, for much the same reason. Didn't have anything to do with race, most places.

Another commenter said it best--you want to look like the higher social class.

Nobody wants to look like they fell off the hay truck yesterday. Chubby and pale made you look rich, in the old days--tanned and fit makes you look rich now. Race is tangential to the subject. As you pointed out, no amount of tanning will make a white man look black--to 21st century eyes (but not necessarily in the 50's and 60's, see "Black Like Me").

But in the antebellum South, lighter skin didn't make you look white, if you weren't. The darkness of your skin is only one component of how we assign race. One of my friends, from Bangladesh, is blacker than most black Americans, but his hair and his facial features, as well as his accent, tell you he's a South Asian.

In America both blacks and whites thought lighter skin more desirable, but each did so for the same reason. It's not as though white people told black people to look "less black", or black people wanted to look "more white", because as you pointed out they really can't. ("Passing for white" might be achievable for someone of mixed race, but there are no skin creams or hair treatments that will do that for you--and in the antebellum South they knew lots of ways to tell if someone were mixed race, since they put so much effort into keeping the races legally distinct.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placage

edutcher said...

danielle said...

"Southern blacks defined a caste system by lightness of skin, as well as whether your people were house or field servants. The lighter the skin, the higher you were on the social scale."

Black people definitely agree with such a 'caste system,' and certainly some had something to do with its origins; but really, do you think it was just black people that prefer(ed) lighter skin black people ? really? I suppose you'd like to believe that white people just went along for the ride, eh ?


All I know is that's the way they saw it (within their own communities, exclusive of white people), but it also had to do with people whose ancestors were house, rather than field, servants having higher caste, as well. Frankly, I would have thought they would have done it the other way around, slavery not exactly being a fondly remembered experience.

PS You're sounding a lot like Alpha in drag.

SMGalbraith said...

Chubby and pale made you look rich, in the old days--tanned and fit makes you look rich now. Race is tangential to the subject.

Exactly. At least on this topic and for those who don't see race and politics everywhere at once.

Or can't.

But this is all American conservative thinking, I guess.

Tibore said...

Synova said...
"How insulting is it, really, to say that a young Filipina doesn't think that her race is the best one in the whole world and it's just that she just doesn't want to look like she works in a rice paddy... particularly when she TELLS you that she doesn't want to look like she works in a rice paddy."

Can I, the son of a Filipina, confirm for whoever is remaining oblivious here, that Synova is right? Right down to the specific statement about "not wanting to look like they work in a rice paddy", this is indeed the attitude that exists. I've heard those very words, nearly that exact statement, right out of my own mother's moutn. Trying to cast it as racial insecurity is the point of view of the uninformed westerner who's been indoctrinated with university race-centered attitudes. It's most certainly not the attitude of someone who has firsthand experience with those attitudes and their causes.

------

Synova: I had no idea you lived in the Philippines before (if you told me once in the past and I'd forgotten, just blame it on my impending senility). Where at? I've got family from near Cavite in Luzon (dad's side) and Northeastern Mindanao (mom's side).

------

Word verification: whesi. What George Jefferson called his wife.

Synova said...

Tibore,

I was at Clark when Pinatubo blew.

I sort of figure everyone is tired of hearing about it. ;-)

Kirstin said...

I'm with Synova.

Everyone has seen older Asian women carrying parasols to shield themselves from the sun. My Japanese grandmother in Hawaii didn't approve of my mother sunbathing to be tan.

Bruce Hayden said...

Caste is color only because the lower castes are defined by their exposure to the sun and the lowest sorts of labor.

I think that a response to this was pointed out above. Like many countries, India had waves of conquest and immigration, with the original inhabitants, better adapted through longer time there, pushed south and to the bottom of the social hierarchy.

Tibore said...

@Synova
Well, Pinatubo's not the only thing that blows in Luzon, but enough about politics...

(*rimshot*)

Kirk Parker said...

SMG,

Love the Jean Brodie reference! :-)

A.W. said...

Sy

> the invaders invade because they are powerful. Hostility remains for generations or forever, which ever comes first. What I don't necessarily see is the logic behind wanting to look like your conqueror.

I don’t know why that’s hard to understand. It happened a lot in America, too. There was a time where calling our founders “dead white men” was considered a compliment, when despite the fact that people who were largely white drove the native Americans off the land, and enslaved black people, that those who were white were proud to be white. And those who were not white very often sought to appear white. Privilege in this country was measured in skin tone, in a way that had nothing to do with how much sun you got. Why is it so shocking that it’s the same way in India?

In India, those who buy into the caste system are not ashamed if they are in the conquering class. They are proud of it. The higher classes get off on the belief that they are upper class because they deserve to be. And their skin color is a talisman of that birthright. Indeed, they also teach a religion that states that those born in the lower classes are born there because in a previous life they did something to deserve it. We know this concept as Karma.

I know in the west we tend to think of Karma as a nice concept, but there is a hefty dark side to it. It says that it is okay to mistreat people according to their birth, because if they were good people they wouldn’t have been born into the class that is mistreated. Which is circular logic, I know, but its what they believe.

So the conquerors became the upper class and thus their lightness was an identifier as a member of that class. Those who buy into the caste, or “color” system, aren’t ashamed of being the conquerors. Their skin tone is considered like a membership badge for an exclusive club, and they wear it with pride. And that badge entitles them to privileges that other people don’t get. So this is about bigotry, pure and simple.

Now I want to be clear that not all Indians buy into this crap. But you really have to understand Ghandi’s movement as being as much about ending the caste bigotry of his day much in the way that MLK tried to end the racism in America. I can’t guess from way over here how many buy into it, but look, there are like a billion Indians, so you don’t have to get many of them to buy into it to make a serious killing from selling a product like skin whitener.

mollpeartree said...

Agreeing with A.W., whatever color means in the Philippines has nothing to do with what it means in India.

You can see this for yourself by watching the (excellent) Bollywood adaptation of Othello, called Omkara (available through Netflix). Omkara/Othello, a violent thug, is a half-caste Indian who marries a high-caste woman. When he arrives home with his bride his relatives make black vs. white jokes about them, and he is compared to black animals throughout the movie.

There are no Bollywood stars darker than a paper bag, btw.

Hoosier Daddy said...

its too bad you seem to need to think of everything in the context of your political power struggles with cards and bait and correctness. but i guess many of you are feeling so uncomfortable, and will continue to for 2.5 and hopefully 6.5 years. i suppose you should be expected to overshoot.

It takes projection of galactic proportions to come to this conclusion based upon the topic at hand and comments to date but nothing from liberals surprises me anymore.

A.W. said...

moll

well, its also important that the phillipines is a true asian melting pot and most of that is by consensual immigration. I mean it changes a person’s whole attitude about ethnic differences when it is not tied to a tragic past. But I shouldn’t go much further on the phillipines, because in truth, i don't know alot about the philipines, which is kind of pathetic given that my wife is from there. :-)

of course each culture has to be taken one at a time. what is true in America isn’t necessarily true in India, and ditto with the phillipines. So its not invalid for Sy to invoke the phillipines as an example of how people approach the issue. And I certainly don’t know enough to challenge her views on phillipine culture.

But while the American example informs my analysis, it only does so to demonstrate that humans can be proud to be the descendants of conquerors. Indeed angst and guilt over conquest is more the exception than the rule. More often they consider the achievements of their forebears to somehow reflect well on them.

But I base my views on india not an assumption they are like us, but on having picked up knowledge on the subject over the years. And really its not novel for me to look at it that way. In the book “Cold War Civil Rights” arguing that the cold war was an important justification for advances in civil rights, they quoted a discussion between ambassadors representing india and America. The Indian ambassador was vehement about how evil American segregation and racial discrimination is, and the American’s response was something very close to this: “Yes, its almost as bad as India.” Now that was in the 1950’s, but the point was people who knew about how things were in India saw them as pretty much the same. And of course India’s flaws didn’t make the Indian Ambassador wrong, just maybe hypocritical.

Btw, i like in the part Ann quoted in how it makes it sound like light skin is just... natural and thus dark skin is somehow unnatural. Now if you saw me, you would always see me in two states--very pale, or sunburnt. i don't tan. i suspect its a celtec thing because Conan O'Brien makes the same complaint (I am welsh and Scottish, conan is irish, but we are both red-headed celtecs). Most of the time I am in the pale category, but now and then I do something unwise and get burnt.

My ability not to get burnt is mainly attributed to technology. Its attributed to having a roof over my head, having clothes that can cover me, sunblock to swipe on, and I suppose even having umbrellas, if I was the kind to do that sort of thing. The fact we are having triple digit temperatures and yet I am still pale as heck is a product of artificiality—that is man-made stuff—rather than an expression of me I my natural state. In nature I would be red as a lobster. So its amusing that Vaseline tries to sell paleness as the natural state.

Synova said...

"There are no Bollywood stars darker than a paper bag, btw."

Where do you get your paper bags?

Even Vaseline Man is as dark as a brown paper bag. Stick a spotlight on a paper bag and take a picture of it and see.

"Privilege in this country was measured in skin tone, in a way that had nothing to do with how much sun you got. Why is it so shocking that it’s the same way in India?"

It's not at all shocking, and if you recall I did bring this up and no one said a word about it. No one seemed at all willing to say a thing about the motivation of black women in the US who lighten up their hair or skin and often enough, then, dress "African" and put their hair in blond dreads or corn-rows.

Either they are grievously splintered personalities or it's not about race. (Personally I think they look exotic and wonderful.)

I'm not disputing the bigotry or the caste system or conquerors oppressing the conquered.

I'm pointing out example after example even from thousands of years ago and in culture after culture that defined beauty in various ways but all of them relating to affluence. I can add more. Long fingernails or constricting clothing or binding feet... all of them, every last one, is a beauty indicator that says "I don't need to work." Over and over and over again.

Portly Dutch burghers and Rubenesque women and Tevye's wife and her proper double chin. High heels, acrylic nails, and hair you can't put a hat on. Purses to keep your hands full and skirts you can't sit in.

Not to mention an oppressive demand (thankfully dispensed with at last) for middle-class housewives to appear to live the life of the idle rich while simultaneously doing the work of a scullery maid, laundress, cook, and having the energy left over to host dinner parties for the boss to prove that dear husband is the right social class to be promoted.

Color is incidental. Sometimes it is a signifier and sometimes it is not a signifier for wealth and class. As a signifier for wealth it is like all of the *other* signifiers for wealth. It's not special as an indicator for ideas of beauty.

Rihanna is not trying to be white, or trying to "pass" as white.

To say that in all of those other cultures, in the lament in Song of Solomon that her brothers were angry and made her work in the vineyard and so she is black (or swarthy, depending on translation) way back in 900 BC, in every culture in every place and time if you look at it, what I describe is evident.

I think that to say that India is the exception, that it's different and special and stands alone and that suddenly it counts as bigotry where in these other places it doesn't... of course it is bigotry for a Hispanic not to want to look like a migrant worker - it's bigotry every time some liberal starts on about trailer trash too... but saying that somehow this ubiquitous behavior of wanting to appear higher class and not wanting to look like a field laborer is missing in India is an extraordinary claim and requires an extraordinary level of evidence for it.

At the least, find an example of a people who were conquered by a generally darker group (it has to have happened) where the conquered people try to appear darker, who look on the extra pigment gained through field labor as a bonus that makes the hard work not so bad after all the same way my friend tried to see an up-side to never seeing the sun.

mollpeartree said...

Even Vaseline Man is as dark as a brown paper bag.

Shahid Kapoor, the actor in the Vaseline ad, is artificially darkened on the right side (an excellent dancer with an awesome bod, btw); the left side is his real color, no darker than a paper bag as you note. And that's as dark as they come in Bollywood movies, though some times the same actors will appear darker or lighter depending on whether or not they are playing villains.

For all I know, your general case may be true for many countries. But both India and the U.S. have very specific, fraught histories around racial and ethnic differences.

And yes, some black people do think hair-straightening and privileging of light skin tone among blacks is about racial self-hatred, see Chris Black's Good Hair or Spike Lee's School Daze.

Blue@9 said...

As an Asian man, I'll confirm that most Asian cultures have a bias for lighter skin, and it has nothing to do with wanting to be White. Heck, many east Asians have skin fairer than Scandinavians, but it still doesn't make them look White. It has everything to do with class and the implications of tanned skin; for cultures that aren't that historically removed from the use of mass human power in agriculture, lighter skin actually means something.

The notion put forth by Danielle is, ironically, pretty racist insofar as it looks at "brown people" through a very Caucasian-centric lens. "Oh, brown people want to be lighter? Clearly they must want to emulate whiteness because of racial mind-manipulation." Such thinking wholly ignores the possibility that "brown people" have developed their own cultural biases and beliefs apart from those imparted by the white man.

A.W. said...

Sy

> No one seemed at all willing to say a thing about the motivation of black women in the US who lighten up their hair or skin and often enough, then, dress "African" and put their hair in blond dreads or corn-rows.

Well, first there was a time when black people undeniably tried to look at “white” as they could. For instance, Malcolm X talks about how he would put this chemical crap in his hair to straighten it.

Now years later, when black people straighten their hair, is it for the same reasons? I honestly don’t know 100% for sure, but I don’t know. I think its an important different between liking straight hair because you just do, or liking it because you think it makes you look “whiter.” One is just a matter of personal preference, the other obviously is not. That is why I had my silence on that subject—because I just don’t know where it is currently coming from.

> I'm pointing out example after example even from thousands of years ago and in culture after culture that defined beauty in various ways but all of them relating to affluence. I can add more.

I think you should be careful with that. What we think of as the “culture” of a given time is often really just the culture of the richest rich or the upper crust, broadly defined. And let’s remember that those with money and power are not told “no” as often as anyone else. This explains, for instance, pretty much everything Elvis wore in the 1970’s. and I would be hard pressed to point out a difference in taste between Elvis in the 70’s and Louis XIV. The cultural preferences of the “rabble” is rarely noted or cared about in those times. Fwiw.

For instance, I have long heard it used to be considered attractive to be fat. I honestly don’t believe it. I believe that the rich and privileged were often fat, and their suck ups told them that it was okay because it was beautiful. But admittedly that is a hard to prove hypothesis. What we do know is that it was said at one time that being fat was beautiful. Whether it was a sincere expression borne out of a fear of starvation, or sucking up is just conjecture.

> Long fingernails or constricting clothing or binding feet... all of them, every last one, is a beauty indicator that says "I don't need to work." Over and over and over again.

Actually footbinding was certainly possible because women didn’t work in the fields like men, but that was true of pretty much all women—none of them did a whole lot of work that required feet that were not broken. The real value of footbinding was first the popularity of a sexual fetish. And then later it was continued in significant part as a way to control women. If a man wanted to win an argument, for instance, he just stomped on her feet and she would often literally pass out from the pain.

Look, its undeniable that a lot of this stuff is affluence related. But its equally undeniable that a lot of this stuff is bigotry related. When dark skinned people try to stop looking dark, yeah, it makes you think some self-hate is involved. Just like when Michael Jackson turned white (and no, I don’t buy his vitilago (sp?) story).

> I think that to say that India is the exception, that it's different and special and stands alone and that suddenly it counts as bigotry where in these other places it doesn't...

Well, in the case of india, it is racism, or ethnicism depending on your taxonomy of their differences. This is not an assumption, this is something I know.

A.W. said...

Sy (cont)

> At the least, find an example of a people who were conquered by a generally darker group (it has to have happened) where the conquered people try to appear darker,

Well, it is somewhat rare because most of the great seafaring powers have been European—the Spanish, French and English. But I guess the real test would be to see how things went in the parts of Europe under Moorish rule. However, I have never made a study of that time, and I suspect records are scattered and skewed, especially given that the Europeans eventually rose up and kicked the moors out.

But proving it to be the case there wouldn't prove anything about india. you just have to learn what the country is like and figure it out.

SMGalbraith said...

The notion put forth by Danielle is, ironically, pretty racist insofar as it looks at "brown people" through a very Caucasian-centric lens.

I would substitute "racialist" for "racist" but the rest of your comments are spot on.

Danielle is the one, it seems to me, looking at this politics and race when it's much more (and less) than about those topics.

mollpeartree said...

If weren't so obsessed with race, I would have said "Chris Rock's Good Hair."

Also, to bolster my important point that Shahid Kapoor is fine: http://tiny.cc/ll5gr

Synova said...

"Look, its undeniable that a lot of this stuff is affluence related. But its equally undeniable that a lot of this stuff is bigotry related. When dark skinned people try to stop looking dark, yeah, it makes you think some self-hate is involved."

I suppose what I'm really profoundly having a problem with here is the notion that the affluence related stuff is NOT also bigotry. Of course it is. It's all bigotry. All of it.

Yet at the same time (with the exception of Michael Jackson who was clearly unwell) the idea that someone who makes cosmetic changes from dark to light must have some racial self hatred involved is incredibly offensive to me. And the reason *why* it's offensive is that it requires ignoring people's own stated feelings. It's disrespectful of them as real people.

And if you don't know about why a black woman in the US would bleach her skin and put orange streaks in her hair, do it up in dreads or ringlets or cornrows and then wear brightly colored African print clothing?

Ask her.

But don't ask her if she's trying to pass for white.

mollpeartree said...

And the reason *why* it's offensive is that it requires ignoring people's own stated feelings. It's disrespectful of them as real people.

I've given you examples of people of color grappling with these issues themselves--an Indian-made film that analogizes caste/color in India to Western race issues, and two films about the meaning of hair-straightening and preference for lighter skin by black filmmakers. But these do not count as statements made by real people that ought to be respected?

But don't ask her if she's trying to pass for white.

Not even Spike Lee is talking about anyone trying to "pass." The issue about the meaning of rejecting kinky hair and dark skin aesthetically.

I appreciate your point that we should not make assumptions about everyone in the entire world based on our own racial issues, but I'm baffled as to why you insist on just ignoring concrete information about Indian culture and history from someone as evidently well-informed as W.A.

The desis on the Bollywood message board I sometimes read would find this whole discussion bizarre; everyone knows that being "color-struck" (as they call it, disapprovingly) is about race as well as class or caste. These simply haven't been separable issues in India.

A.W. said...

Sy

> It's all bigotry. All of it.

Fair enough, but I think you know what I am trying to say.

> with the exception of Michael Jackson who was clearly unwell

Wow there’s a mouthful. Yes, heh, Jackson is an exception to most rules. Like gravity.

> And the reason *why* it's offensive is that it requires ignoring people's own stated feelings. It's disrespectful of them as real people.

But you are ignoring their stated reasons too. They would say, “why lighten my skin? Because its beautiful.” And you say, no its because its an indicator of affluence, and I say, no its an indicator of self hate. And neither one just says, well, s/he just likes it better with no extra component at all.

For me, I am a big believer in occam’s razor. When a country that has long organized itself by color, to the point of declaring the darkest among them “untouchable” and then you see people in that country trying to whiten their skin, the simplest solution is that this racial/ethnic bigotry is not dead.

I remember for instance being at a conference to celebrate the life of Judge Higgenbotham and speaking to an Indian woman. She said that in india, she was considered white, but when she got here suddenly she was not considered white anymore. What am I supposed to think when I hear crap like that?

I’m not making assumptions, Sy. I know something about this, and I know that there is still this persistent problem of racial/ethnic hatred in India. i find nothing extraordinary in the idea that self-hatred exists, too.

Gabriel Hanna said...

When a country that has long organized itself by color, to the point of declaring the darkest among them “untouchable” and then you see people in that country trying to whiten their skin, the simplest solution is that this racial/ethnic bigotry is not dead.

This isn't true. Castes can be any color. In my work I've met Brahmins and Dalits; you can't tell one from the other by looking. (Maybe they can.)

Caste is not defined by or correlated to skin color. It's your name and your family and how you talk and where you grew up.

mollpeartree said...

FWIW, some (mostly) NRIs discuss color issues here:

http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/005921.html

It's interesting, some bring up arguments Synova and others have mentioned, others shoot them down. It's striking how much social pressure there is about it.

Paco Wové said...

"...footbinding was certainly possible because women didn’t work in the fields like men, but that was true of pretty much all women—none of them did a whole lot of work that required feet that were not broken."

OK, now you're just making shit up.

Synova said...

"She said that in india, she was considered white, but when she got here suddenly she was not considered white anymore. What am I supposed to think when I hear crap like that?"

You're supposed to think that maybe the usage of "black" and "white" is not uniform between cultures.