Skin whiteners and the Filipina’s pursuit of beauty (or is it superiority?)

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

Not having received information about more recent phenomena being observed and known in the homeland, invariably, I had thought that ‘whitening’ meant one’s pearls, or simply, one’s teeth.

Dental care on these shores still alludes to whitening in the use of dental aids for health enhancement.

I was more than amazed when, during my last visit to my birthplace, I learned the term did not zero in on the dental profession at all. It, honestly and truly, meant skin whitening: whitening of one’s complexion and skin from professional assistance, i.e., from dermatological clinics and aestheticians, licensed or otherwise, and whoever has access to whitening products.

Dermatologists, they of the medical profession, are meant to practice their field: treatment of skin disorders. I learned there are a number of them who no longer confine themselves to the diagnoses of skin treatment per se. Certain dermatologists go farther: they have their own line of beauty products.

There is nothing wrong with being entrepreneurs. But when their clients are told: ‘No other brands would do,’ such businesses are ensured a captive group.

However much I tried to grasp the meaning of ‘whitening’ during my stay, it arrived only after a few exchanges of conversation when I found out that the term was remote from what I have known about skin enhancements.

Indeed, whitening has taken another meaning when the process refers to ‘evenly-toned whiter skin;’ yes, ‘whiter.’ In simple words, the goal is to seek ‘whiter’ skin, not content with what one received at birth.

Although one is already gifted with a fair complexion, and still aspires to achieve comparatively ‘whiter’ skin, what does the objective lend itself to? Another tier, what appears ‘far superior,’ perhaps?

The Filipina complexion has been a source of envy from many members of some
racial and ethnic groups who have found themselves ‘too fair,’ or ‘too white,’ thus tanning one known route to skin color change, has been resorted to by them.

That Filipinas have been on the receiving end of compliments about the natural glow of their beige/brown complexion is not unheard of. Over time, that golden brown skin has resisted wrinkles and lines. Many who love their original color have been the recipients of compliments by non-Filipinos who say the Filipina defies aging because she is gifted with her skin color.

Owing to the kind of pride Filipinas exude complexion-wise, why would certain dermatologists in the home front include skin whitening as part of the regimen they are inclined to provide their clients who seek them in their quest for ‘white’ skin?

Certain products carried solely by those dermatologists who claim skin treatment specialization claim they are ‘tried and true.’ Results are bandied about: “Our products work from the inside out, giving clients evenly-toned, radiantly white skin in as little as two weeks. Unlike other brands, ours are made from premium grade ‘reduced glutathione, 100 percent imported from Japan.”

I asked one dermatologist what ‘reduced glutathione’ meant. It doesn’t mean ‘less or inferior.’

“It is a term used by well-respected medical practitioners to describe the safest and highest form of glutathione.”

I was informed that ‘smoother, evenly-toned whiter skin’ comes from the use of glutathione.’ Aside from ‘skin benefits,’ I was likewise informed on how glutathione ‘helps strengthen the immune system, removes toxins from the liver, and protects the body from radical damage.’

Reportedly, such skin treatments cost an arm and a leg.

Too, I learned skin whitening treatments are not confined to one gender. Those who wish to appear ‘whiter,’ or ‘preserve a white complexion,’ belong to what is on the rise: the skin whitening clientele who must ‘faithfully and regularly’ rely on maintenance check-ups.

Why white? Does white imply an element of superiority?

red line

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: