Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Monday, November 01, 2004

I am not saying that I have a brain (that's another story) but I have this nagging suspicion that I have been brainwashed.

I have been bombarded with countless messages in newspapers, magazines, on TV, under bridges or even on sides of busses that beautiful people are:
a) Fair
b) Slim

I am sure you have been bombarded too. But do you believe them? Do you believe that only the fair and slim people are beautiful?

Let's tear into them one at a time. Let us take the colour of the skin first. People, like kain pelikat, come in different colours. Black, white, yellow, red or sawo matang. All turn green with envy or when on a boat in rough sea. Why do they want us to be white? Even the white people themselves don't want to be white all the time. They want to sport a tan. They want their friends or strangers (complete or otherwise) to know that they can afford to sunbathe in Acapulco, Hawaii, Rio, The Caribbean, Majorca or wherever. The very least they can brag about is they have a sunlamp somewhere.

Fair is passe'. Centuries ago it was the rage to be fair. Noble ladies stay indoor and avoid the sun. When they have to be in the sun, they were protected by wide bonnets and fancy parasols. At that time, only the peasants got tanned. Later slaves worked in the hot sun and most of them were already tanned.

By then, people were already brainwashed. We were taught about dark forces, black hearts, black magic as well as Snow White. I am sure you can think of other words and phrases that made you think that black (or dark) is bad. Later on, we were told that Black Is Beautiful and we adore Diana Ross (with or without the Supreme) and other celebrities who are not fair. Do not spoil the argument by mentioning MJ. He is the Weird One and an exception.

Black is still beautiful. Any other colour that you have is beautiful too. God is not discriminatory. Ok, maybe Kermit complained about the difficulties of being green but he doesn't go around using bleaching cream.

People who fall for the spiel that you have to be fair to get a partner, get a job or whatever the ads say, should remember the Malay rhyme:

Hitam-hitam si tampuk manggis
Sungguhpun hitam ku pandang manis.

Remember Ted Danson of "Cheers"? Mr Danson, not a blind person but maybe colour blind, once fell for Ms Whoopi Goldberg. Ms Goldberg is black and not a beauty queen by any standard. She is just a wonderful person.

Remember your grading in school? Excellent, Good, Fair.

Be excellent or good. No need to be fair.

(To be Continued)

| 12:01 AM :: ::
16 CommentsOldStyle:
  • I'm not fair nor slim but a proud owner of a sawo matang skin. Adverts can never influence me to think that fair is superior. ;-)

    The Citizen watch advert back then "Hitam Itu Menawan", I remember.

    By Blogger Jane Johan, at 12:26 AM  
  • and adding to that, the 'african bees' are said to be deadlier than the 'european bees'.

    By Blogger PretentiousRot, at 1:22 AM  
  • Pokku, I was always telling my friends this the last time: I think the standard template for a typical Malay girl that all the guys in the vicinity would go crazy after are the slim, petite, fair, bubbly ones :D. I witnessed it countless times. And I am neither (so maybe that's why). Perhaps the media is just playing up the lust factor of men? *shrugs*

    Also, your "Mujo" article has been circulated numerous times via email, sadly uncredited :(.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:43 AM  
  • Remember, 'emas hitam' is more influential than 'emas putih'... ;)

    By Blogger Sabri, at 3:13 AM  
  • When I was small, I could recall the old folks, when coming back from a kenduri kahwin, they would describe the bride as - lawa, putih seghelah (serlah), putih melepak or anything in that category. I would counter, "takkanlah kalau tak putih, tak cantik."

    I thought that was in the pass but with the number of whitening products growing, it seems like people still believe in that idea.

    By Blogger Nectar, at 9:00 AM  
  • Ooh.... this is right up my alley! *grin* I have actually taken classes on this.

    First of all, many factors dictate what is beautiful. One of them, as you mentioned, is socio-economic status. Now, pretty is fair and slim... but at one point (and still in some cultures), fat was prerequisite for beauty because only rich people could be fat and that was socially desirable. Similarly, Caucasians want to be tanned because it is an indication that they can afford to vacation where the sun shines while Asian people prefer fairness because it indicates that they didn't have to spend time slogging away in the sun.

    So based on these rather brief arguments... I would say that as much as we'd like to be politically correct and say that everything is beautiful... the term is really relational and can be measured in terms of a society's take on it. As for us as individuals... let's just say that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder! ;)

    By Blogger DaisyBoo Blacksheep, at 9:44 AM  
  • dear ayah elida,

    provokatifnya tema masukan hari ini pak ku, sampai mek yam terpantun empat kerat dibuatnya:

    oh gelita
    kau jelita
    cuma beza
    j ngan g aja

    oh jelita
    kau gelita
    gelap takpa
    cinta kan buta

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:34 AM  
  • Oh, oh, oh... Now i'm glad to be a-not-so-fair lady! ;)

    By Blogger hana_kirana, at 1:07 PM  
  • Betullah,

    dulu-dulu pun kalau tengok perempuan putih macam bedak & gebu macam pau, cepat sangat jatuh cinta rasanya.

    : P

    By Blogger Aku Tak Reti, at 3:56 PM  
  • It was Coco Chanel who introduced tanning as the symbol of rich in the early 1920's. Prior to that, even western women desired to look fair and whiter; arsenic was even once used as skin whitener.

    Then, in the early 20's, western female dressing started to go through massive revolution, i.e. freeing their bodies from the traditional confining and bulky dresses. Cruising from Paris to Cannes, in a then so-called modern, and more revealing clothes, Coco Chanel obtained a suntan, probably unintentionally. And the rest is history.

    [during my schooldays in dungun, i used to put on light bedak sejuk to look fairer, hahahahha]

    By Blogger Atok, at 5:11 PM  
  • The fairer ladies are pleasing to look at, but I think they're kind of, fragile.

    By Blogger Kri, at 5:41 PM  
  • Pok Ku, eagerly awaiting your Part 2. Tak mau komen dulu, muahahahar! *evil buaya69* ;)

    By Blogger Buaya69, at 11:33 PM  
  • What developed as an evolutionary trait in preventing the sun's effect on the body has been used as a gauge for beauty sigh. Pigmentation evolved as people from the equator needs higher protection from the sun's rays since sunlight hours are longer and of geographical positioning and longer exposure causes the upper epidermal layer to turn dark to blot out excess uv. Anyway, guess it's true beauty is in the eye of the beholder:)

    By Blogger Kervin, at 11:42 PM  
  • Very interesting comments. Thanks. We had comments from ordinary folks, psychologist (Daisy), a scientist (Kervin) and even one end-user (Kri). Thanks.
    And I love Mek Yang's lovely pantun.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 12:54 AM  
  • Atok: Thanks for the historical perspective.

    By Blogger Bustaman, at 4:41 AM  
  • My sister said to me one day "Kalu nok tahu orang tu comey ke dok, imagine je dia tu hitam legam, kalu napok comey jugok, comey lah dia, kalu napok dok comey, putih lagu mana pun, memang dok comey pun..."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:24 PM  
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