Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Globalization of Beauty

A quick look at the cosmetic effects of the NEW WORLD ORDER.

Pretty Tamara Richards is convinced that white people have all the advantages in the world. She believes that white people get jobs easier, earn the highest salaries and attract handsome and wealthy men.

But there’s one little problem: Tamara is just about four shades darker than the typical white woman and just barely graces the ‘browning’ category among her black people in Jamaica.

Her perception is that the fairer you are, the more likely one is to become successful socially, economically and romantically.

The 18-year-old Jamaican has always wished she had a lighter color. So to solve her ‘problem’, Tamara is using skin-lightening creams. "White people get the better things in life, yes," she says. "You have a lot of advantages when you are white."

In this Caribbean island of 2.6 million people, health authorities say hundreds are skin bleaching and the problem is that many people misuse by overuse skin lightening creams, which are prescribed at low doses to correct uneven pigmentation.

However, the products, many of them manufactured in North America and Europe are sold over the counter throughout the island, the Caribbean and the world.

"The prolonged and continued use of these creams will lead to a face looking like a grater," warns Dr. Persadsingh. "When we are faced with this type of damage there is nothing that we can do except to advise the patient to live with their condition."

In Kenya, a TV ad features a young woman staring lovingly at her boyfriend in a college cafeteria. Another pretty woman with slightly lighter skin walks by, upon which the man jokingly asks the girlfriend how he can tell the woman that she is the "most beautiful girl I have ever seen." Devastated, the young woman responds to a voiceover advising her to use "Fair and Lovely," a skin cream promising "special fairness vitamins" and guaranteed to lighten her complexion in just six weeks. The young woman uses the cream and, sure enough, keeps her man.

Over at South Korea, it wasn't too many generations ago that kids had no control over their looks. Their hair, for example, was considered a gift from their parents—never to be cut. But today, kids drop into the plastic surgeon's office after school, and when they get home their folks can barely recognize them.

As in the rest of Asia, South Korea's primary cosmetic obsession is with the eyes. Having bigger eyes is every girl's dream, and it can now be realized through a simple $800 operation, in which a small incision or suture is made above the eye to create an artificial double lid. Teenagers as young as 14 are doing it, and eye jobs have become a favorite high school graduation gift from proud parents.

In Singapore, Creative director and stylist Alvin Goh had double eyelid surgery. Goh says surgery made him feel better about himself and more comfortable working in the image-conscious fashion industry.

It seems like the trend has come to the United States. More and more women of color in America are faced with images of brown women wearing blonde wigs, or blonde extensions, contact lenses, bleached skin, and an overall rejection of true Ethnic pride. Part of this has been consistent with some of the above statements. It comes down to bankability. The Market dictates. Today the market promotes Caucasian features while at the same time cashing in on Hip-Hop. Here are the results.