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Discussion Starter #1
As some of you know, I have been lightening for 3 full weeks, going into week 4. Besides being happy with my results so far, there is something else I've noticed. People i encounter are treating me differently! In my University, there are many students from India & Pakistan. While none of them were mean to me before or mistreated me in any way, they were not friendly. Now, many of them go out of their way to speak to me. They make eye-contact. They smile back. they talk to me. The social impact of a lighter complexion is remarkable. In many Asian cultures, fair skin speaks of social status & success (issues like modernity also come into play). It was something I never truly noticed until late last week.

I have mixed feelings about this. I did not lighten because I thought it would make me a 'better' human being: I come from a successful upper middle class bkgnd. My husband is very successful & I have been fortunate & blessed with living 'the good life'. I'm slim & naturally attractive & very thankful for these gifts. The assumption by mant people that I am somehow 'better' because of a cosmetic change seems ridiculous. After all, I am the same person I was 3 weeks ago. It must be tough indeed for our truly dark complected didters & brothers who are good people yet go unacknowledged due to social prejudices and stereotypes.

As a consequence of my new awareness, I will go out of my way to be kinder to & acknowledge those people who are darker & tend to be ignored or derided. I love the way my lighter colour looks, but it is not a permit to visit bigotry on others or delude myself into believing that I am now 'entitled' or better than anyone else.
 

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I guess that's good news, but no offense but your whole post stinks of ignorance and stupidity.

You notice people look at you because you're a few shades lighter? You go out of your way to help the poor poor "dark people" who are exiled by society? Are you still living in the 16th century or something?

As a naturally tanned individual, I'm more than happy with my color. Something that I would never change. You can't say that you didn't do this because you thought it would make you a better human, because just by the fact that you are trying to accomodate the poor dark people now, that's exactly what you're exhibiting. If people are treating you different, it's because you have worked on your low-self esteem (which explains why you lightened your skin in the first place), so now you may be outgoing more and YOU talk to people more.

I'm not usually uptight like this on SCT, but your post really sucks.
 

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Ondine, maybe you can examine more into why you lightened you skin...

I grew up in an all white town so I thought black was black.

But when I went to college, a "light skinned" clique of girls adopted me who came from heterogeneous black neighborhoods. I never saw the difference between colors of "black." It was very interesting. But I had no schema of the perceived privledge of being "light-skinned." The dookey really hit the fan when I totally fell in love with a very dark-skinned man. At first, my friends freaked-out! I thought it was so interesting that they even cared what color person I dated, but apparently who I dated, influenced the status of our clique. I dated him anyway! They got over it!

This mentality is an offset of slavery or a caste-system - In American history, it pit the House slaves and the field slaves against each other instead of working together to rebel against their enslavers. House slaves were quite frequently mixed or had a white ancestor in their bloodline so they got "special" treatment.

Unfortunately, this mentality continues to keep some of us oppressed or "enslaved" by self-hatred and ignorance. I find it very sad and embarrassing that this mindset is still held by even the most educated people of color. That does suck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I seem to have touched a nerve with you, Freddy. While you do have every right to dislike my post, becoming insulting is uncalled for. I've always liked your posts in the past & hope to clarify any misunderstanding. As for allegations of ignorance and stupidity & living in the 16 th century; I merely noticed something different and wrote about my experience. As for having 'worked on my self-esteem issue', 3 weeks is a short time for such a radical makeover!

People's self-esteem cannot be altered by cosmetic changed. Many get repeated plastic surgeries thinking that if only this or that were different, they'd feel better about themselves. It is called Dysmorphic disorder and it is quite prevalent. The only ways to rectify a self-esteem issue is by resolving past issues andd developing self-esteem. This usually involves months or even years of therapy. There are beautiful people with low self-esteem and unattractive people with high self-esteem. It crosses all ethnic/social boundaries.

As a child growing up with a much darker skin from hours in the sun, I recall the parents of many of my Indian friends admonishing them for playing in the sun & 'ruining their skin'. Go onto You Tube & see the ads for Fair and Lovely. It is the best selling cream in all Asia. View the coersive and patently elitist 'tone' of their ads and what they imply about being dark in India and a few of the other Asian countries represented. I think that what you are responding to that 'sucks' is the unspoken racism beneath the surface of our modern society that we like to believe we've outevolved. Think again! It is still there. Ask yourself whether Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Ciara, Aishwarya & Halle Berry would be recognized as beauty queens if they had decidedly dark skin. How different would their opportunities have been even with the same talents? THIS, I agree with you, SUCKS.

As for lightening my skin due to low self-esteem, I would wonder whether you believe the same about the thousands of whites regularly visiting tanning salons, using tanning creams or laying out in the sun to darken their skin. With whiteness, comes the presumption of the right to make choices. When a white woman perms her straight hair into curls & gets a tan, she is merely having fun trying a new look as is her prerogative. If a black woman straightens her hair and lightens her skin, are you the sort who accuses her of having all sorts of issues? I insist on exercising my right to make choices.

I have stated that I have no intention of trying to 'turn white' or pass myself off as any other background other than the one I have. After noticing this difference in treatment, I spoke to a friend I'll call Geeta. After some initial discomfort with the subject, she confided that her parents 'freaked' (her word) when her sister brought home a nice Indian date who was darker skinned than she was. Geeta is the colour I was 3 weeks ago. Whether or not you or I like it, people DO treat others differently when

-they appear affluent/successful
-they exhibit traits considered beautiful in a given culture

In America, that may mean being a tall, slim busty blonde. Having ultra-white skin is not considered beautiful but a beach-gold tan is a popular look. In another culture, it may mean having very long hair, large eyes a 'double fold' eyelid (the most popular surgery in China and Japan), or having lighter rather than darker skin.

As for 'accommodating poor darker people' (your words), I have to wonder whether I would become a contributor to the increased challenges they do face (whether you want to believe so or not) or whether I'd make an effort to contribute towards awareness of inequalities and treating people respectfully. I choose the latter.

Many people with disabilities say that they are 'invisible people'. That people unwittingly do not look at them, make eye contact or speak to them. They are often capable but are the last to be hired & the first to be dismissed. When dark skinned people express similar experiences, although dark skin is not a pathology but a normal genetic human variation, it becomes, socially, disabling. This is what I hope to assist in dismantling.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It is sad, dragonlilly. I was trying to respond to Freddy's critique. By his reply, it appears he took personal offense. On many forums the discussion becomes ugly as people disagree with eachother and volleys of insults are exchanged. While he did say some insulting things, i have chosen not to take offense & try to clarify what I was saying. I hope he takes the time to read it in a non judgmental and open spirit.
 

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Humm...sorry if I came off a bit strong, but this is why:

The fact that you are treating darker people differently means that you view them as different people. Why? I am very lucky to live in Canada which cannot be defined as an individual group of people but rather a huge mixture of races. I have friends that span from shades of ghost white to blue black, and everything in between.

You have pointed out that 3 weeks is a very short time to make a makeover, which is very true. The fact of the matter is, nothing has changed, expect for the way you perceive yourself. Do you really think people are going out of their way to talk to you because of the color of your skin? If so, you really do need to open your eyes and realize that this isn't what its about.

One very notable example of when I had to be proud of my soccer was when I played competitive soccer with a very well off team. The entire time, I am not joking, the entire time was white. The make things even more evident, they all decided to dye their hair blonde before a trip to England. I was the only dark hair dark skinned individual. Did I want to lighten my skin? No, not even. I was proud of who I was.

Skin lightening is just as much a problem (for people other than pigmentation problem) as anorexia is. You have to realize that you are a beautiful person, and that your skin color won't make things better.

The United States has a black president. The people have spoken.
 

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I understand what Ondine is trying to say. Im asian myself and really the lighter skinned you are the more "classy", "professional, and "good looking" you appear to other asians. Its not just because of the way you think as an asian its also the way you were taught growing up. Some people are really open about it and if you were to ask any, 90% would agree that the lighter skinned you are the better. But as for people being more friendly to you :S lol i dont really understand that. But if your trying to say maless are more attracted to you, then i understand. Being an asian male myself, I personally find lighter skinned asians more attractive then darker skinned asians and Im pretty sure the same goes for you asian females.
 

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I think that maybe Ondine felt better about him/herself and for this reason he/she was more pleasant or approachable. In other words, the response that he/she received from others has nothing to do with the color of his/her skin. The fact that his/her post is the longest that I have seen on these SCT boards says to me that this is a troubling issue for him/her. Of course, this is just my opinion.

And yes, I am an American caucasian (living in Canada) and very proud to have a black American in the White House.
 

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I think that maybe Ondine felt better about him/herself and for this reason he/she was more pleasant or approachable. In other words, the response that he/she received from others has nothing to do with the color of his/her skin. The fact that his/her post is the longest that I have seen on these SCT boards says to me that this is a troubling issue for him/her. Of course, this is just my opinion.

And yes, I am an American caucasian (living in Canada) and very proud to have a black American in the White House.
That's very sensitive and insightful, Mirecka.
 

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Being attracted to a certain skin color is one thing, thinking people respect you more because if it is something completely different.

In all honesty, money runs the show anyways. You can be the darkest asian ever, but if you're the owner of a factory, all the light skinned asians have to listen to you and respect you.
 

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It's such a huge, complex issue. I wish it were as easy as turning off a switch to not feel a certain way. But the story of color in our world is a long one -it's not over yet.
 

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Freddy, what is your race? Just curious
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thank you for responding, Freddy. I repect thst your experience has been different from my own. My family is ethnically very diverse and all colours and many religions are represented. Irt is worthy to note that gender differences play key role in racial politics and societal perceptions.

A good example is in American cinema. There are many examples of very successful and admired Black make actors with dark skin (Sydney Poitiers, Danny Glover & many others). How many dark skinned female couterparts can you name? There is still the peception that somethings are 'okay' for a man but not for a woman.

While you are correct in pointing out that progress has been made in the wider mainstream society (Canada's governor General is a Black woman), more needs to be done. I was referring to a specific reaction from a specific group. Depending upon where in Canada you are located, circumstances and demographics vary radically. Where I live, there is a large well-established Indian/Pakistni community of people who have been here for less than 15 years ans are still very much enmeshed in their traditional cultural value system. Those from Sri-Lanka have much darker skin and live in the urban run-down areas, by & large. They are not 'respected' by other Indian peoples. In my area, an affluent suburb, there are Sikhs, Pakistanis and Indians who are well-educated and successful. It is amongst this specific group that I noticed a change.

Were this the result of 'a higher opinion of myself'. I would have noticed a difference amongst white Anglo Saxons and French Canadians etc. In this milieu, everything has remained constant. My lighter skin has made a flattering difference and works better with my tiny features that tended to disappear: especially when I became tanned in the summer. While a new hair-do, dress, lottery win or tinted contacts may give you a temporary boost, studies overwhelmingly indicate that a person rapidly returns to his/her typical level of happiness and self-esteem soon afterwards. Who you are IS NOT what you look like, what colour you are or your so-called 'race' (a purely social non-scientific construct). You may change your hair colour and style and it might be a nice pick-me-up but if you disliked yourself beforehand, you'll STILL retain the self-esteem issue.

Freddy, I believe you are still misreading me. Perhaps my skills at expressing these experiences is faulty. My father, to whom I am very close, is a very dark-skinned man. Acknowledging that circumstances and social experiences vary as appearances change (just ask a conventionally beautiful woman how she is treated in society & then ask her fat twin the same question!) doesn't mean I see people as 'other'. THEY are souls on this earth just as I am worthy of all the respect that implies. I am changing my thinking as a result of increased awareness. A person who gains new insightss but refusesto alter theiir thinking and conduct is truly ignorant.
 

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You know what Ondine. You are right. I'm sure you have a lot of reasons for lightening. I mean there is a market for it, so I'm sure people want to do it.

I guess it's just because its so much different here in North America. People smile at me when I'm tanned in the summer and people smile at me when I'm lighter in the winter. To each their own. My apologies.
 

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You know what Ondine. You are right. I'm sure you have a lot of reasons for lightening. I mean there is a market for it, so I'm sure people want to do it.

I guess it's just because its so much different here in North America. People smile at me when I'm tanned in the summer and people smile at me when I'm lighter in the winter. To each their own. My apologies.
Freddy, I'm touched by your ability to stand back and think again about Ondine's posts.
 

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I agree with Ondine. People from Asian cultures really do put a lot of importance on skin colour. I am from asian background myself. I am not fair and I've noticed people from my own culture treating me indifferently because of my skin colour. I can still remember when I was in my teens and when I would go to a party accompanied by my fairer cousins, people would pay attention to them rather than me. I had wished to be fairer all the time but now I am very proud of how I am and will never change my skin colour for anything. Also, I now live in the UK and people here, always praise my skin colour
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Freddy, you are a true gentleman & no apology is warranted. when I re-read my initial post, I saw where you got the impression that you did. I had made the error of over-editing in order to make it shorter & in doing so it skewed my meaning.

North America is truly a different context. In many other countries, ALL of the movie stars & 'beauty queen/pop star' types are extremely fair-skinned: much moreso that the average person in their polulation. A good example of this is Indian movie star/goddess/former Miss. World Aishwarya Rai. She is the so-called 'face of India'. The trouble is that she is a white skinned, blue eyes golden haired woman. What percent of Indian women resemble her? Less than 1%! Most Indians have skin a shade of brown & dark eyes & black hair. Probably 98% fit this description with some variation in the shades of brown & black...and yet...to be a female tv personality in tis country, you need to have very fair skin! What does that say about a society? Here in White majority North America, a woman like Oprah can become a star as did Aretha Franklin & others yet in many brown countries, brown women get overlooked.

This type of discussion is key to uderstanding the effects of colour as one moves about the globe into diverse cultures & communities. It can also help us make sure our motives for lightening our skin are not dictated by self-hate, stereotyping or unrealistic expectations. This is in some ways comparable to a woman who thinks that getting breast implants, a face lift & going blonde will prevent her philandering husband from straying. Look at Princess Diana's marriage. Who in their right mind wants what an awful experience she had! Looking a certain way miht be a boon to certain career aspirations as it may get your foot through the door more readily, but it is NOT a guarantee.

Growing up, I had many white girlfriends as I am in Canada. Many of them lived in a constant state of fear of every pound they gained. Being anything other than extremely thin was considered by them to be fat! Some starved, exercised obsessively & dieted compulsively. Their self-esteem, despite being white, blue eyed & blonde was in the dumps. I learned a lot from observing this paradox. So many brown people are mistaken in envying their whiter friends. I would not have traded to be in their insecure unhappy shoes.

My reasons for lightening have more to do with sinply making my skin colour match my facial features. As for so-called 'social-status', I have that already. I do not want to be an actress or a model & I cannot sing to save my life. As I enter into week 4 of my treatments, the results seem to be accelerating. Perhaps after getting rid of the initial unevenness, blending & evening out is somehow easier for the skin to manage?
 

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I know what ondine means. If you are of asian or indian background, you will understand. Even today in Asian countries, lighter skin is considered a sign of beauty. There are commercials in India where they show a dark skinned woman losing her boyfriend and job but after she bleaches her skin, suddenly she gets job offers and all the guys are after her. Even Indians and asians in the US will openly state that they do not like dark skinned girls. It is sad, but a very true and real part of asian culture.
 
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