Someone somewhere wants what you’ve got

whitening skin 

Recently I had a wobble over my skin tone, as I have many times in the past. My issue is that I’m never dark enough – even though I’m not pale and naturally have sallow, olive-y skin. If I get some sun I can go very dark, but I hate fake tan and never use it, and with the UK suffering from less and less sunshine (especially through the winter months) I’ve been starting to feel ‘pasty’.

Let me define ‘pasty’ for those who are looking at me thinking ‘you’re not pale?!’ My version of pasty isn’t actually pale at all. Because when I’m in that zone of perfectionism, nothing less than the ‘ideal colour’ I have in my head will do – therefore anything that doesn’t constitute that is ‘pasty’. It’s just like everything else – lips, boobs, arse, stomach tone. It’s very easy for anyone with body image issues to warp reality in their head to minimise their own positives and amplify the perceived ‘good things’ other people have.

Whilst reading an article on a beauty blog one day I noticed an advert. I constantly had a ‘golden caramel’ target in my head to banish the ‘pink and pasty’ image I (wrongfully) used to describe myself, but this banner actually advertised a pink and pasty skin tone. The lady in the advert had porcelain skin with a slight pink blush on either cheek. This cream was of course targeted at an Asian market – the writing was in Chinese underneath and the model was oriental looking.

Seeing the advert really made me stop and think about a point I raise both in Tough Love and here on the blog quite frequently – the fact that however bad you feel about yourself, someone somewhere wants something you’ve got that they feel they haven’t. So whilst I was sitting feeling bad (needlessly) about my ‘pasty’ skin, a girl in China was probably looking at me wishing she was even just a little bit lighter.

I discuss the lightening/darkening argument a lot – as it’s something I became very aware of when I worked as a make-up artist. Asian girls invariably wanted to be lighter, whilst European girls wanted to be darker. No-one was happy in their own skin, literally. This was a nightmare from a cosmetic perspective, because if your foundation’s lighter than your skin it looks chalky, and if it’s darker it looks patchy – so I’d always try and encourage them to stick close to their natural skin tone. When I worked for Estee Lauder in Duty Free customers from overseas bought the ‘brightening’ white-effect moisturisers, whilst those heading out on holiday stocked up on fake tanning creams.

Isn’t this all a bit crazy? Clearly this isn’t something which is going to change – at least not from the efforts of one person. But applying it to you personally can you see how ‘beauty’ is subjective? How the person you admire could hate themselves (more on this here)? Next time you’re fretting over some part of yourself you dislike, try and remember that many of us want what we can’t have. And that someone, somewhere envies you!

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