ANG 160 Fall 2005
( by Audrey Mawn)
once said: "The three wishes of every man is to be healthy, to be rich
by honest means, and to be beautiful ".
the beginning of time the colour white has been associated with good, and the
colour black has been a synonym for evil. White has also been associated with
power and success where as black with inferiority and failure. It is not
surprising that white people colonised and enslaved black people for decades.
However, it is interesting to raise our awareness about such preferences and
that they do not date from the colonisation era but rather from a much earlier
period and in more than one culture. For instance, North African, Indian and
Asian cultures had put a great emphasis on whiter skin considering it much more
attractive: “ … many North African and Asian cultures had
placed a premium on light skin PRIOR to European exposure. Indian folk songs
praised the beautiful woman who has "the color of butter" (Indian
butter is white, not yellow). Pre-colonial Indonesian women used plant-based
skin treatments to make their complexion pale.” This exemplifies the preference of white skin over darker
still today white skin is put on a pedestal for everyone to envy. Indeed, beauty
products companies have created skin whitening system for those who wish to
lighten their skin tone. How expensive is too expensive? Is life expensive?
According to The Observer, many whitening creams are in fact toxic. Many
lightening system contain a poisonous chemical hydroquinone which was banned in
Britain in January 2001, or even steroids which can damage the skin by making it
thinner and therefore more vulnerable.(7) Even though such products are illegal
for sale in the UK, it is not illegal to manufacture such products and export
them: “The law allows companies here to make the
even though they contain substances banned in Britain as long as they are for
you must be asking yourself, as I am; aren’t those illegal cosmetics also
dangerous for people outside of the UK? Well, of course they are! Yet it is
still sold in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa
and others(7). The truth of the matter is that an exorbitant amount of money is
made each year from the profits of such enterprise. The picture shown above was
found on a website selling this merchandise. As one can tell, the person on the
picture clearly has Black features although she has white skin (8).
skin possessed by Caucasians is not the only envied features, facial features
are also admired. Such businesses are very prosperous, an incredible amount of
money is spent in such industry. As mentioned; “the white Caucasian model of
beauty also promotes cosmetic surgery to change the shape of the face, nose,
ears and eyes. It is a business that is worth $160 Billion us annually”(7).
Cosmetic surgery is becoming as common as any other procedures in Asia. It is
estimated that one person out of ten, in Korea, has undergone plastic surgery,
and in Taiwan, the number of procedures has doubled in the past five years.
This is a
small peek of what my essay will be about because let’s face it, we are
constantly bombarded by images dictating to us how beauty should or shouldn’t