Perception of Beauty: Whitening and Tanning

This is an observation on the perception of tanning and whitening in Western and Asian countries being deemed as beautiful. Since I was young, I was told to put on sunscreen as part of my daily routine. I remember having it in my backpack, and putting some on during lunchtime. In high school, my peers would always ask me “Why are you putting on sunscreen?” because soon I was to know that in Western cultures (generally) many people prefer to have a sun kissed look. After living in Australia for a year, there is no denying that Australians are sun lovers. You will see people lying in parks, pool sides, beaches and other public areas in their beach wear lying in the sun.

This is in  no way saying that tanning or whitening is bad, but just an observation. However, be aware of products that use harsh chemicals that can damage your skin. Personally, I am afraid of tanning, because my skin is prone to tanning very easily. Therefore I can get freckles and breakouts more easily. You may of seen people carrying umbrellas in the sunshine, to protect from the glaring sun. Long term exposure in the sun can be extremely harmful to your skin and body. The sun is one of the highest environmental factors that causes wrinkling. In order to keep your skin healthy and younger, it’s important to apply sunscreen and take extra care of it. Not to mention the rate of skin cancer is extremely high down under, so be sure to take care in covering shoulders, wearing sunglasses and applying sunscreen throughout the day.

In Eastern Asia, the ‘standard’ of beauty is having white, unblemished and glowing skin. Having a pale complexion is considered beautiful and if you visit Asia, you are sure to see whitening ads in magazines, tv commercials and billboards. There is also an emphasis on eating well for certain parts of your body. There are certain foods that will benefit your skin, and therefore it can be encouraged to eat them. There is quite a bit of historical background stemming all the way to Ancient China, as to why Whitening is considered beautiful. Generally, it shows a hierarchy, because the noble people in China, were fair and white, where as farm workers were tanned from the sun. But, of course skin colour today should never indicate self worth, as much as the way we look to one another.

In certain Western Countries, having a tanned complexion is considered healthy, well traveled, active and gives a smoother complexion. Having a golden glow is considered attractive. Many people wear foundation, BB creams and other facial products to cover blemishes and also to bring colour into the skin. No matter what, the media and marketing will always tell us what beauty is, in order to have people purchase the products. The most important thing is to not follow trends if it’s for the benefit of other people. If you want to lighten or darken your skin, make sure you use products that won’t damage your skin. Be grateful for the skin you are in and take care of it. At the end of the day, whether you wish to be more tanned or fair, having healthy skin is the most beautiful of all.

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