Shadism and The First Gen

Shirley, Topiclear, and Neutrotone Cream-White Moon are brands I know all too well. Unless you frequent Asian, African, and sometimes Middle Eastern stores you probably aren’t familiar with these products. They are bleaching or as my aunties call them “Goddess Lighting Creams.”

I’ve noticed that in the first generation or immigrant communities bleaching creams are/were a part of our daily life. In the US, beauty is Fair, Skinny, and European and the rest of us are just “the others.” I remember visiting my aunties’ houses and seeing their cabinets filled with bleaching products (yes, I snoop when bored). I also remember seeing an auntie who had magically become 10x lighter than she was the year before. My parents have never “pressured” my siblings and I to become lighter or anything, so I can say, I am luckier than some of my friends whose mom’s made them put bleach cream on every day before school or made them feel as if their skin was dirty. I had a friend tell me that African extreme lightening was different from the Asian extreme lightening and I should count myself lucky.

As someone who is in between, I’ve always loved my skin, but there were times where I wanted to be lighter than I am, but then I look at myself and remember my first taste of bleach cream and then stop myself:

My mom had told me that my armpits looked dark and I thought by using BLEACH CREAM IN MY ARMPITS, everything would be ok. After screaming-the devil is a lie, I vowed never to use bleach cream.

Do you know what I don’t understand? One of my White classmates confided in me that, she wished she was my type of tan so she wouldn’t have to tan anymore. It’s like, “we” are trying to be their definition of beauty and “they” in turn want our skin?

I’ll leave you with this: There is this amazing movement called #Unfair and Lovely or Dark is Beautiful campaign that started in India and it’s a movement meant to empower the younger generation to be happy in their own skin. Someone said it’s just an anti-bleach movement, which I don’t think is true, as someone whose grown up in a culture where bleaching is normal and has ex-bleach cream user friends; this campaign is a every woman, no matter your skin tone is beautiful.

In a world that sometimes sees us as ugly, I’m glad there is a movement showing women and men that beauty is within you and not outside.

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