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June 07, 2003

Whiter is brighter & righter?
Posted by razib at 08:33 PM

"Indonesian public opinion swung heavily against the United States during the war in Iraq, but that anger did nothing to reduce demand for white skin."

Nothing from this article indicates that this product makes Indonesian skin Northern-European white or that Indonesian women would choose such skin if given the option. Once again women most often like to look lighter skinned than the men of their population, but there is a limit- albinos aren't even attractive to Swedes.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at June 7, 2003 10:07 PM

yes-this is probably not an instance of peacock effect. i believe south asians probably find an olive complexion the most attractive, the light end of the normal phenotype, rather than pink/white. (i am myself excepted from this trend ;)

Posted by: razib at June 7, 2003 10:14 PM

i think the genetic engineering will ensure that in a couple of generations, anyone who wants to be Northern European white can be so and quite easily...

Posted by: marinara at June 7, 2003 11:29 PM

at which point, whiteness will be devalued, and natural whiteness will be at a premium....

Posted by: razib at June 8, 2003 08:37 AM

I'm making a broad generalization here but I've noticed that, in general, Arab & Persian women have a very nice complexion - a beautiful golden-honey perma-tan. It's a shame they must be covered up.

Still, Slavic women kick major a** in the overall looks department.

Posted by: Sen at June 8, 2003 09:08 AM

razib has a point!

in fact.. not only natural whiteness, but even natural brownness may be considered superior to artificial whiteness...

but the case of michael jackson makes me wonder.. i remember seeing a computer generation of how he is supposed to look for real.. something like a jolly Al Sharpton... and I doubt if kids all over the world would go berserk (breaking down in tears etc.) for a jolly Al Sharpton looking chap....

Posted by: marinara at June 8, 2003 03:30 PM

I have an Indonesian girlfriend (who prefers Caucasian guys with crooked teeth & high cheekbones for some reason) who said Indonesians used to call the white tourists sunning themselves on the beaches "shrimps" as they changed color. It was funny to them that people, or at least women people, would deliberately expose themselves to the sun to get darker. Perhaps the newly empaled Indonesians are taking their cue more from various Asian traditions, than from anything American. Geisha make-up is centuries old, isn't it? When Nobel prize winner Pearl Buck was growing up in China, daughter of U.S. missionaries, the people pitied her for her blond hair and blue eyes, and Pearl's protective Chinese nanny would make her charge wear a cap embroidered with little Buddas to hide the hair, but would mournfully note there was nothing to be done about the blue eyes, with which cruel fate had cursed her. Yet, when any other Chinese criticized these features, the nanny would retort, "yes, but look at her skin." That, evidently, was beyond reproach.

Posted by: MaryClaire at June 8, 2003 06:53 PM

the preference for light skin in asia (and the americas!) pre-dates european hegemony or contact. on the other hand, there is not cocomitant preference for blonde hair or blue eyes historicallly (as i've mentioned, such coloration was reserved for "trolls" or "witches" in chinese & japanese mythology).

Posted by: razib at June 9, 2003 02:21 AM

I've come to see a really dark suntan as sorta skanky, no doubt due to my white-trash cousin whose leatherlike skin is sunbed-tanned to a mahoghany hue. This girl is only 27 and she's had melanoma TWICE. Me, I marinate myself in sunscreen.

Posted by: duende at June 9, 2003 08:04 AM

Razib's right, most South Asians prefer the olive complexion. Anyway, India is probably the most color-conscious society in the world.

Most matrimonial ads seek "fair brides" above all other qualifications. And we're not even talking about the rather primitive custom of having arranged marriages. Oh, and just in case you didn't notice, it's also inherently sexist because males can somehow get away by being dark but for a female to be dark would make her unfit for marriage. Darker women pay the penalty for their darkness quite literally by having to shell out larger dowry amounts.

To quote from an Arundhati Roy interview :

"Q: You grew up in Kerala. What's the status of women there?

Arundhati Roy: Women from Kerala work throughout India and the world earning money to send back home. And yet they'll pay a dowry to get married, and they'll have the most bizarrely subservient relationships with their husbands. I grew up in a little village in Kerala. It was a nightmare for me. All I wanted to do was to escape, to get out, to never have to marry somebody there. Of course, they were not dying to marry me [laughs]. I was the worst thing a girl could be: thin, black, and clever. "

Check out this link :


"They service an industry worth about Rs 140 crore and the bulk of those sales are in the South"

Razib had once talked about Kerala, which has Sweden's vital statistics but without the hot leggy blondes.

hmmmmmm ...

That'll all probably change now ;)

Posted by: king kong at June 9, 2003 02:39 PM