I have pretty pale skin. Some might even say I’m translucent under certain lights. It’s not that I don’t go outside (I do have to walk to my classes, after all, and the underground tunnels I’ve been petitioning for haven’t been approved yet so there’s really no way for me to get around going outside). It’s just that homework is much easier to finish when I don’t have to worry about bees landing on my back or spiders hatching babies in my backpack when I’m not looking or the other potentially dangerous creatures that might be plotting against me while I’m sitting out in the open. I’ve never been a big fan of my skin complexion, simply because in a normal week, I can expect to hear “Honey, you look awfully sick” or “Sugar-muffin, you need to get some sun” at least once (and not only from friendly old ladies, which is what I’m imagining in my head for some reason). It doesn’t take too long to figure out that – in America at least – paleness is not a desired quality.
In places outside of the US, however, this is apparently not the case. According to one Korean vlogger, “many Korean people like [white skin]” and will go through strenuous efforts in order to attain such complexion. Many skin products are infused with sunscreen (which, to be honest, should just be a thing anyway because sun kills, people). Some people will even go to even more extreme measures to lighten their complexion by using whitening creams, which physically bleach the outer layers of skin.
Before I launch into my rant, let me preface it by saying that I am not an anthropologist. In fact, I’ve taken a total of one anthropology class in college and the only valuable piece of information I took away from it was that Bonobo monkeys engage in aggressive sexual behaviors, which is kind of like humans, I think? Or maybe I saw that on the Discovery Channel. Anyway, I highly doubt all Korean women aim to be light skinned or find it to be a signifier of beauty. That would be like saying all American women find muscular athletes that can play guitar and look really great in cowboy hats attractive. While that’s likely 90% true, it is also a very generalized statement.
That being said, the idea of chemically bleaching your body in order to look more “white” is preposterous to me. Humans are not photographs. We should not be “burning and dodging” our own faces to make us look more aesthetically pleasing. We are not pieces of art that can be deconstructed and glued back together, though some plastic surgeons might disagree. White skin should not be the ultimate goal. There are plenty of other ways to make yourself feel more attractive that are less disturbing that skin-bleaching, including…
- Putting a large parrot on your shoulder to distract people from any potential blemishes you may have on your face.
- Same as above but instead of a parrot, a large cobra wearing hipster glasses.
- Wearing no clothes at all (because why would anyone be staring at your face if you are literally walking around naked in public).
- Wrapping your face in a sweater whenever you go out in public (if it works for Amanda Bynes, it works for me).
- Inviting an Oompa Loompa out with you wherever you go so you might look better in comparison.
- Not changing anything about yourself at all because contrary to popular belief, that is completely and totally okay.
I understand every country has their own standards of “beauty,” though. Look on the cover of any American magazine and you’ll find an overly Photoshopped picture of a tan, blond, fairly skinny woman with high cheekbones and an impossibly perfect smile. Rather than try to whiten our skin, Americans try to darken it down to a crisp until we resemble a toasted marshmallow or iced coffee with a little too much cream. If you think about it, tanning is a weird process in itself. When you go to a tanning salon, you are agreeing to sit in an enclosed space and be bombarded with UV rays that will darken your complexion. We are essentially doing the exact opposite of Korean women for the same purpose: to make ourselves look more “beautiful.”
What do you guys think? Is Korea’s “skin bleaching” method a little extreme? Or is it no different than walking into a tanning salon and asking for a “chestnut brown” complexion? I personally think we should just abolish beauty standards and revert back to sitting in sweatpants and t-shirts every day. Maybe I’ll petition it after my underground tunnel proposal gets approved, but that might take awhile.
Image via TheGrandNarrative.wordpress.com