Thursday, 26 July 2012

[Family] The tyranny of tisay beauty

Article found on 
[Family] The tyranny of tisay beauty - MANILA, Philippines - It’s okay if you’re not mestiza. Really. That is one of the most profound truths I wish to impart to my 6-year-old daughter. It may sound silly, but I’m serious.

I came across this article by way of Twitter, as retweeted by an acquaintance. And I completely agree with its sentiments.

I admit that there was a time when I bought into the whole shenanigan, buying things that would supposedly lighten my skin tone and make me prettier. Not in quotation marks because I believed the hype. I was in high school then and most people just seemed to naturally gravitate toward the light-skinned girls. Naturally, I wanted to be noticed by the boys just as much as all the other girls were.

Behind my mother's back I would purchase bottles of Block & White lotion and tubes of Pond's Whitening Cream. I scrubbed my teeth with a baking soda paste once a week. In fact, I did everything I thought I ought to so I could lighten my skin. Of course, this didn't stop me from enjoying the heat of the sun on my face...sans sunblock (I know, yikes!)...and being lazy and not using an umbrella to at least fend off direct sunlight.

Typically TV shows and movies would show fair-skinned heroines and darker-skinned villains, lending further credence to the idea of "white is good." I know I was smarter than this in may other ways but when it came to vanities, I was completely clueless.

I know now that, despite whatever inconsistencies Michael Jackson (may he rest in peace) promoted in "Black or White," the truth was there: it really doesn't matter.

My husband was drawn to me first for my wit, and only after did he notice everything else. Yes, crankiness included which he has no choice but to live with. ^_~ And as I've told other friends before, it is my husband who most often likes me better than I like myself and has helped me appreciate and love myself more than I did before.

I've thought about it and there are some things that I want my child to learn by herself. Or himself. But I think I'll take a leaf out of this mom's book and do as she's started trying to:
I’m starting by holding back on telling girls how pretty they are, including my own daughter. Comments about looks seem to have become the standard conversation-starter with young women. You’re so pretty! Ang payat mo! I’m guilty of this, but now I realize it has to stop.

That girl in front of me may be a real beauty, but I’m going to skip the discussion on how cute she is and move on to more relevant topics. I can talk to her about her art projects, the books she reads, music she listens to, how she’s doing in school or what sports she’s into.

I’ll ask for her opinions. Listen to her ideas. Move on to … what she is doing with her life that bears real meaning.

If we change the way we talk to girls around us, one day we may have more Filipinas comfortable with themselves however they look.
I spent most of my life completely insecure and utterly unaware that I do have my own unique beauty. I'd rather my kids get that particular confidence-killing hump out of the way so they can move on to thinking about bigger and better things.

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