Traveling through South Korea on our way to Dalian, China, we came across this interesting advertisement in the Seoul, South Korea international airport. As you can see for yourself, it advertises techniques and cremes to help "whiten" one’s skin. We had to do a second take at this advertisement when we first saw it, but this is a norm it appears throughout some Asian cultures, including some Korean and Chinese; a desire to have the whitest skin possible. We also thought it interesting that the model depicted here is not Asian, but obviously Western, and obviously white (Caucasian).
While I was mildly offended when I first saw this, and remain somewhat puzzled by the obsession with "whiteness," I don’t believe this has much to do with overt discrimination or racism. Basically, it’s not personal (to me or African-Americans, or those with darker features).
It is a preference, no difference than the preference of others in the United States to "tan," naturally or unnaturally, until their skin is almost to the point of being irreparably damaged. And while I may scratch my head a little, as I look at individuals and cultures seemingly obsessed with changing their features, either darker or lighter, I don’t have to judge it. That was the lesson for me this week. It wasn’t about managing the purported prejudges of my South Korean friends, but my own. People have issues…and so do I.
Something to think about… Let me know what you think. Leave a comment. Pass it on.
Onward with HOPE
John Hope Bryant