Written by Danielle Chua 🤎
Just like crayons, recoloring gives off a positive meaning that we are indeed willing to change our old ways and to accept new things. How about recoloring the market tainted with colorism? What a nice journey.
‘The whiter, the better.’ – a four-word sentence that made an impact on how I saw my perspective of beauty, growing up.
Marketing ads in the beauty industry have long equated beauty to whiteness. But shouldn’t they be the ones promoting inclusivity and diversity of beauty regardless of one’s color? Unfortunately, some of them still go overboard with ads tainted with colorism. According to Mita Mallick from Harvard Business Review, “Colorism is an offspring of racism”. To know more about colorism, read here.
Given their goal to sell their products, it is just alarming that they instill a problematic view to their audience, most especially the younger generations. In an online article entitled Advertising Must Become ‘The Change It Claims It Wants To See’: Uncomfortable Conversations, Lindsay Rittenhouse stated that it is not considered real representation if such advertisement castings only encompass people with lighter skin.
With all these unaligned standards and market colorism, being a teenage morena is like a rollercoaster ride. Due to this, I have become so motivated enough to modify the existing beauty norms, growing up. This is where recoloring comes into picture, as this word means a hope for something newer and better. Just like crayons, it gives off a positive meaning that we are indeed willing to change our old ways and to accept new things.
Now, I welcome you to my 3-step process on my venture of surviving the beauty norms and recoloring the market!
Did you see my picture above? Yes, that’s me–the happy and beaming morena child. This photo was taken last 2007 but little did I know, the years after that will have a huge impact on me.
Growing up, this was my breaking point. I have always been exposed to television commercials of these beauty companies. This is primarily because I loved watching cartoon and educational shows back then. It was all about the fair white skin effects that I could get if I consume their whitening lotion, whitening soap, whitening body wash, and whitening scrub. I remember that I would sometimes ask my family to buy me these products because I was desperate enough to be more beautiful. I would also spend time staring at my skin and thinking how I can change it.
Whether it is emotional, physical, and mental, these ads dishearteningly stained how I view myself. I just remembered looking at my skin color and picking up the mindset of not being beautiful enough. All of a sudden, everything was about being whiter and it formed a question mark in my existence, Where do people like me belong?
I thought it was just a phase but this question left a permanent mark. Due to my younger self being too ‘young’ to understand it all. I became fond of using these whitening products. It made me believe that being white would make me more accepted on the society’s beauty ladder. I spent years of my life trying to fit in a fairer color, rather than to love my own.
Fast forward to the learning phase of my life. When I was in high school (both junior and senior), I finally had the courage to pursue my love for writing. I joined our school’s official publication that already signified my membership as a campus journalist and editorial writer. Joining journalism competitions outside my school made me widen my perspective in various social issues.
Aside from this, certain famous personalities really captivated my heart and made me feel represented in society. These are Gabbi Garcia, Ry Velasco, Ayn Bernos, and Katrina Dimaranan–name it. Their morena stories and advocacies are really inspiring enough for someone like me, who feels unheard and unseen.
This was where a lot of learning came into place, with a bunch of realization that I do not have to modify my skin color. I would really love to give my young and confused self a hug, for the times she felt really unaccepted just because of her skin color and the inappropriate marketing.
During this step of metamorphosis, I gradually trained myself to put down all my whitening products and to uplift once again, my morena spirit. With my passion to both write and speak, I felt the sense of responsibility to constantly seek beauty companies’ recoloring process–joining organizations, staying consistent with my personal advocacies, and including all people in the narrative.
Beauty encompasses all colors, and so should marketing strategies also be. It is just terrifying to think about how young women and men feel whenever they become exposed to a distorted viewpoint. It is important that every ad must be considerate of everyone’s representation.
A huge shout out to all my fellow morenos and morenas, let us no longer feel the need to explain our color and to seek beauty validation from other people. Let our beauty no longer be dictated by the harsh society and the white-focused marketing.
Now, I want you all to face in front of a mirror and say, “As a morena/moreno, I do play a role in all these beauty standards and that is breaking it.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Danielle Chua is a proud Morena student, mental health advocate, writer, and speaker who desires to be a representation for the unseen, unheard, and unspoken. She believes that she can be an instrument for breaking the existing norms, standing up for her advocacies, and making the world a safer place to live.
Mallick, M. (2021, May 20). Marketing Still Has a Colorism Problem. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2021/05/marketing-still-has-a-colorism-problem
Rittenhouse, L. (2020, August 14). Advertising must become “the change it claims it wants to see”: Uncomfortable Conversations. Ad Age. https://adage.com/article/agency-news/advertising-must-become-change-it-claims-it-wants-see-uncomfortable-conversations/2273761