• http://profiles.google.com/jcho49 J Cho

    Interesting read Gaya :)
    but I definitely agree that usually tan = sexy while pale= elegant or “pure.”

  • http://profiles.google.com/jcho49 J Cho

    Interesting read Gaya :)
    but I definitely agree that usually tan = sexy while pale= elegant or “pure.”

  • http://www.michelle-chin.com/ Michelle Chin

    I had this document analysis assignment for my Atlantic History subject in uni and I picked documents on racism between the 14th to 16th century. Although it was not called racism back then (there seems to be a consensus that racism only officially came about during the scientific revolution…), people with darker skin tones (africans, american indians etc…) are often described as being sexual creatures and described as being vulgar by rich, western explorers. people with dark skin are more likely to be described as having subhuman qualities too. So, the association between dark and sexy may partly stem from this ideology. 

    Last year, for my psychology subject, it is found in several studies that individuals who are sexy are often described with lesser human qualities and more animalistic than people are do not belong on the sexy side of things. 

    With these things in mind, I feel extremely sad for Kai. I feel that he is too young to be treated in such a way. I mean, if you are his elder sister, you would feel very uncomfortable with the fact that he had to show his skin all the time on stage. :( It’s like he’s selling his skin or something. And also, some immature fans have been calling him slut, to add salt to the wound. 

    • destined2bebossy

      “it is found in several studies that individuals who are sexy are often described with lesser human qualities and more animalistic than people are do not belong on the sexy side of things. ”

      That is so true. Th geeky book smart (unnattractive -which in itself is a problem- ) loses all of her wits and common sense as soon as she gets ‘hot’. Its like people can’t be attractive and still be able to think clearly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001226649164 Angelique MinHo

    I agree with everything except on Kyuhyun’s part. He can have soft skin now and milk-like looking skin but he still has those acne scars which we still can see… so he isn’t that flawless after all. And don’t get me wrong, I love Kyu but… you know, I don’t like it when people say he’s THAT perfect ’cause he’s not

  • http://twitter.com/magnaesara 멍~지효

    Siwon is tanned because he’s filming a drama at some beach place. (Surfing..topless..^^)

    • Gaya_SB

      Oh, I didn’t know that, thank you for letting me know?
      … btw do you what the name of the drama is? Not that I’m interested or anything, you know, just for um research purposes.

      • http://twitter.com/turtleeatcake simone@

         i think its skip beat. it may not be that though

        • Gaya_SB

          I think that’s the one with Ivy Chen and Donghae?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/YQ53WK5K4DPXQ5DIBKDELB6WPE Camille

         It’s the upcoming Taiwanese drama “Turn Around and Say ‘I Love You.’ “

        • Gaya_SB

          Thank you Camille!

  • https://twitter.com/#!/LimaCake LimaCake

    Gaya this was SUCH a good read. You covered everything that I had questions about.

    Like you mentioned, this issue of colorism plays out in almost every culture. Aside from the idea that social status was indicated by skin tone, there’s also the fact that Europeans conquered much of the world. They were able to set the standard for beauty, which was pale. Which is partly why Africans (and African Americans), Indians, and South Koreans are socially inclined towards lighter skin. It’s terrible, especially because darker people get discriminated against by their own people. And actually, sometimes lighter people get discriminated against because of jealousy. Great read Gaya

    • Gaya_SB

      Thank you Salima, I’m glad you enjoyed it! 
      I completely agree about the intra-race discrimination, which is essentially what colorism is. I was rewatching the “Dark Girls” documentary preview, and some of the stories are just heartbreaking.

      • http://twitter.com/amyjean92 Amy

        The “Dark Girls” documentary is really heartwrenching. I wish it could be shown where I live but I don’t live in the northeast. But I agree, this article was great.

  • http://twitter.com/cuteukiss0330 Sania Asghar

    So basically in The-World-According-To-Korea I’m sexy.

    • Khaddie

      According to Korea I’m one of the sexiest people alive.

      I can’t believe I just wrote that…

  • hippocampus123

    Love the article although I don’t think it’s kpop alone here. Almost all of Asia is obsessed with paler skin. I’m always annoyed by the ridiculous Fair and Lovely or whatever it is that several of my family members insist on  buying me every time I visit, not to mention my mom firmly believes in staying out of the sun (she wouldn’t be caught dead without an umbrella in the summer).

    Plus a lot of idols slather on BB cream so I really can’t tell whether they have smooth skin or not, so I think I’ll hold off on the flawlessness.

    • Gaya_SB

      Ah. Fair and Lovely. How many tubes of you have I thrown away, still in the box?

      • straighttohelvetica

        I’ve only learned of Fair and Lovely recently, and whenever I hear the name I giggle a bit. There’s a line of products for black women’s hair that’s called Dark and Lovely. I grew up seeing their ads in all the magazines my mother read. But don’t let the name fool you! They make mostly relaxers, aka the treatment black women put on their hair to get it straightened, which is just another part of the “light is right” ideal. (I say this as someone with relaxed hair.)

      • hippocampus123

        Glad I’m not the only one throwing these things away! Do a lot of people get these things as presents? 

        • Gaya_SB

          I got most of mine when I had my, uh,”Sari Party” if you know what I mean… funnily my fairer sister got the same amount of F&L as me–I thought people were being mean to me, but seeing my sister’s Sari Party stash made me think it was more an item bought because they had no idea what else to buy. It’s just a thoughtless little extra accompanying the money presents, usually.

    • MAR_M3anie

      Not only can you get skin lightening cream for the body but just in case the vajayjay might need some attention too, because the man in your life might not like a dark puss. Saw this over on Disgrasian a couple months back.


      When I watched the commercials it just made my skin crawl.

      • hippocampus123

        What the actual…

        Zomg. Eww. No. Just no. There’s clearly a market for these…since they are selling them. Eww. I’m beyond disturbed.

      • xNoirX

        They forgot anus bleaching!

      • Gaya_SB

        I was lol-ing at the Fair and Handsome… and then I saw that last ad. INDIA WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

  • whirlypop

    If you’re as hot as Hyori, then it doesn’t matter. It’s also usually how you handle yourself. Kai isn’t really your traditional pretty boy but he’s considered to be one of the most good-looking nowadays.

  • YourYG Bias

    I guess I’m half pure, half exotic. My feet have this nasty Toms tan on them and my neck is 3 shades darker than my face. 

  • http://twitter.com/ericyumyum ericyumyum

    I’m a dark skin Asian and I love it! I love being tan and having that rich cocoa color. But the thing with me is that I get light… during winter and very dark during the summer.. Anyways, Asia is obsessed with having light skin colored and I think it’s absurd that people have a different attitude of each other just because of skin complexion. It’s nice to see that there are a few kpop idols that have a darker tone skin color. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Cottle/1297801414 Jessica Cottle

    I remember my roommate used to tell me about how when she went to visit her family in Laos they would make fun of her for being tan (and she said they thought she was a giant because she’s 5′ 4″- 162.5cm). Yet here I am, back in the States, and I admire her skin tone. I can’t tan to save my life…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

    Light skin may be a preference in South Korea for many years to come — if only because SK is a great deal more homogeneous than the US, and many other western nations.

    Many of the western nations are melting pots. The US, in particular, is the largest melting pot in the world. In a melting pot nation, there are so many different ethnicities carving out their place, side by side, every day, you cannot escape changing tastes when it comes to beauty. Everyone has their preferences here, and rarely are they the same in a large group of people. In my opinion, Latin women are the most attractive women I have ever seen. Many of my friends, however, love black women, and one or two love Asian women. One loves Irish or Italian girls — red hair on the former, dark hair on the latter. 

    In many ways, the preference toward tan skin as a beauty ideal in the US rose about the same time immigration really exploded at the turn of the last century in America (1870-1910). Suddenly, you had all these new people blending into the American pot, bringing all new ideals of beauty for the society to chew on. 

    Another reason why I think fair skin remains — and most likely will remain for a good while — the ideal in Korea is because it is what the general public sees everyday. Every time people turn on the television, they are bombarded with advertisements, MV’s, movies — the majority of which feature snow white complected idols.

    In America, you walk down the street and you are likely to see every ethnicity on the planet in places like New York, Chicago, Seattle, LA or any of the other major cities every few steps. On tv, you are as likely to see as many popular darker skinned actors, models and singers as light skinned ones. For every Katy Perry, a Rihanna is performing on the other channel. For every Candice Swanepoel posing it up for a magazine, an Adriana Lima is just on the next page, and so on. When you are exposed to different examples of physical beauty on a daily basis, you start to open up to the possibility of differing tastes for what it means to be beautiful. 

    Korea, as progressive as it is becoming, still is largely Korean populated. They have their enclaves of Chinese expats, Japanese who stayed behind following the occupation, but that is usually all. You won’t see Hispanic people walking around Seoul every few seconds (there are always tourists, though). SK youth may have adopted the Hip Hop subculture, but you won’t see many black people around on the streets. You won’t see white people milling about in abundance, either. The Korean public can only draw ideals of beauty from what they see everyday. Sadly, what they see everyday is not diverse enough to buck the trend that has been going strong for longer than we’ve been alive.

    • http://twitter.com/DancingWid Widney Gay

      However, my question is this:”For a country that has a market that is trying to break on a global level, should we foreigners accept it as “the Korean way”, and brush it off or should we point it out as something that should be changed?”. You know I have a bunch of Korean friends, and many more Ethiopian, Indian and Vietnamese friends as a matter of fact, there are certain things that they do, and instead of feeling offended or perplexed I just take it in and move on, but this is one thing I can’t seem to tolerate.Should I be the black girl who is too sensitive about skin colorism, or should I just shut up and say nothing?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

        Say something. ALWAYS say something, imo. It doesn’t have to be pealed into somebody’s face, but it should be said. Communication doesn’t occur unless both sides are aware of each other’s stance on any given subject. Especially if you happen to fall on the opposite side of one of these issues (I sympathize. I’m not black, but I’m Native American.).

        I don’t think Koreans are fair-skinned bias out of ugliness. Far from it, in fact. That pov, imo, is just a result of a homogenized culture. America was just as backward not so long ago (and sadly, still is in some places). But western culture has evolved to the point where it is not an alien concept for aspects of all nationalities to bleed into the daily norm — especially concepts of beauty. 

        When Korea is exposed to more outside influences (as they are in recent times), they will begin to form new opinions on the subject of beauty, no doubt. Until then, try hard not to be offended, but do point out when the subject reaches a point where you become uncomfortable. They may not even realize they are saying something that can be interpreted as disrespectful. 

        • http://twitter.com/DancingWid Widney Gay

          Thanks that was enlightening.

        • jesuis2

          Again, doesn’t explain SE Asia’s or the Indian subcontinent’s preference for lighter skin.

          Much less that in South/Latin America or within the African-American community in the US.

          • kgx6

            Actually it does, because SE Asia and India have always had ligher skinned people around, many of whom were part of the societal elites. The same goes for African Americans, who live in a predominantly white USA, you would expect them to be subject to similar forces as Koreans in a predominantly Korean Korea.

    • jesuis2

      Eh, among African-American women, there is a divide btwn those of darker and lighter skin where the lighter skinned ones are seen as being more desirable.

      That’s why many of the “black” women noted for their beauty are of part white heritage and also straighten out their hair.

      Even Beyonce, who’s fairly light skinned has gotten her skin tone altered/lightened in magazine/advertisment shoots.

      Same goes for Latinos/Hispanics.  On Spanish language TV (Telemundo, Univision, etc.) – pretty much all the big stars are white Hispanics.

      Darker Hispanics tend to be relegated to roles like the maid.

      Eva Longoria (who really isn’t dark) was referred to by her parents as the “dark”/’ugly’ one while growing up since she was darker than her sisters.


      Also, Koreans (esp. the younger Koreans) watch TONS of American films and TV shows – so it’s not like they aren’t exposed to different skin tones.

      In SE Asia and the Indian subcontinent, there are a wider range of skin tones (can get pretty dark), but that hasn’t stopped people from still thinking that the lighter skin tone is “better.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nate-Broadus/100003245734823 Nate Broadus

        There is a big difference between seeing something fairly often on television, and seeing it every time you step outside your house, all day, everyday. One example (seeing it on tv) can be changed simply by changing the channel, while the other is something that becomes a part of your daily life. 

        In many western nations, we go to school with black kids, Hispanic kids, Asian kids, white kids. We eat lunch together, study together, play at recess together, play sports together. We go to work with people of all skin colors and nationalities, as well. In London, you have a significant population of East Indians that have made their way into daily English life, along with African immigrants, England-born black citizens, and so on. 

        That is quite a bit different from daily life in Korea, where the tv channels may carry some foreign flavor, but real life generally does not lead you to interact with people of different ethnicities, except in rare circumstances (tourists, visiting foreign business men, etc). 

        As far as preference for lighter skin as they relate to India and Korea, that could very well be a result of a homogeneous society. India, linguistically and religiously, is among the most diverse societies in the world — but when you get down to it, their influences tend to still be Indian, derived from the many different people and languages native to India. Korea is the same. The dearth of their influences come from within their borders, not from interacting with people of other cultures. Only recently (as recent as Seo Taiji and Boys in the 90’s) has Korea really started to embrace outside influences on such a wide scale, culturally. That western influence on the Korean culture is also fairly new, starting within the last half of the past century following the American liberation in the 40’s. That is when many Koreans first got a taste of western culture, interacting with service men and women.

        As for American tastes in women, you made a good example for the diversity in tastes in your post, and you may or may not have realized it. 

        Beyonce is attractive to some, possibly for her lighter skin, but more likely because she is just very beautiful. 

        Eva Longoria is also attractive to some, possibly for her skin, but more likely because she is just very beautiful. She may not be the darkest skinned Latina you will ever see, but she is tan enough that nobody will ever mistake her for caucasian. 

        Right there you have a few examples of how skin tone doesn’t necessarily equate beauty in the west — just good ol’ fashioned superficiality.:)

        Western cultures, by nature of having interacted in daily life with numerous races for more than a century, tend to have broader views on what is considered beautiful. I can think of a couple of examples just from my younger days. Two of the most beautiful women I can remember crushing on growing up were Stephanie Seymour (before she became kind of creepy – think November Rain days) and Naomi Campbell (before I found out what a colossal bitch she is). 

        One is white as the snow, the other has very deep, chocolate colored skin. 

        All I saw growing up were two beautiful women — because I had been exposed to different races enough that the color of their skin came a distant second to their physical attractiveness.

        Korea is on their way toward expanding their view of what is and isn’t attractive, but until the example is sitting next to them on the bus, at work, in schools, and not just on a television set or computer screen, it isn’t going to change views on a countrywide scale.

        • jesuis2

          Again, even in the US, there is a preference for lighter-skinned black women, not only within the black community, but the general populace as well.

          Same goes for Latinas – pretty much all the Latinas who have made it in Hollwood are lighter-skinned “white” Latinas; we don’t see the darker skinned non-white Latinas unless they are playing a maid or something else along those lines.

          In Brazil and other parts of South America, one can step outside and see a wide variety of skin tones – but the preference is for lighter skin (at the beaches in Brazil, one will often see people of similar skin tones congregate w/ each other), but the images that one will primarily see on TV (in the starring roles) will largely be white.

          In SE Asia and the Indian subcontinent, one also sees a wide range of skin tones – from very dark (as dark as Africans w/ dark skin tones) to lighter shades, but despite seeing the variety of skin tones in daily life, the preference is still for lighter skin.

          And you are contradicting yourself when you say that India is “among the most diverse societies in the world” and at the same time ‘homogenuous.”

          India is not only quite diverse culturally, but they are diverse in skin tone, from very dark to pale caucasian.

          Beyonce evidently isn’t light enough for magazine editors or advertisers who have altered/lightened her skin tone on a no. of occasions.

          Eva Longoria is white – she can easily pass for a Spaniard or Italian.

          And Koreans don’t equate skin tone w/ beauty; while they generally prefer keeping a pale complexion (staying out of the sun, at least when it comes to female gender), beautiful Korean or foreign women who opt for a more tan complexion are seen as beautiful.

          Aside from Hyori, Bora and other Korean female celebs who are clearly seen as being among the most beautiful in Korea, American celebs w/ a more tan-look like Jessica Alba are seen as being beautiful and have done commercials in Korea.

          As for the Naomi Campbell reference – it’s not like Koreans don’t think she is beautiful.

          This isn’t about whether a black person is seen as being beautiful in Korea, but Koreans’ preference for their own skin tone; the majority (of women) in Korea, if they had to choose btwn getting tan or maintaining a pale complexion will opt for the latter, but a beautiful Korean woman, if she opts for a more tan look (like Hyori) will still be seen as being beautiful.

          Also, black women as dark as Campbell are a rarity in Hollywood and Madison Avenue; the vast majority of black women on TV shows/films and in ad campaigns tend to be of lighter skin tone and sometimes even being of lighter skin tone, such as Beyonce,  is not enough (where they will digitally alter the skin tone to make it lighter).

  • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

    I just think Korea is too obsessed with every aspect of appearance. The whole skin tone issue doesn’t seem as bad to me, personally, as the obsession with double eyelids, but it’s still fairly annoying to me. Everyone can have their own opinions about their likes and dislikes, but at the end of the day, I feel like someone who looks good…looks good. :/

    I know that in Wonder Girls, Sohee is seen as the prettiest members by leagues in Korea because of her pale skin and small face and everything. But this has been something I’ve actually seen a lot of foreign fans discuss, and 95% of them seemed to pick Yubin as the prettiest member. I think that can partially be attributed to the fact that Yubin has really tan skin and a sexy image, which is appealing to Westerners, but I just think that Yubin’s facial features actually are more appealing than Sohee’s. I don’t think Sohee is ugly (by any means at all; she’s gorgeous), but I can’t believe how it seems like a whole country can point out the prettiest member in a group. (YoonA is another example. She’s so pretty, but all of SNSD is so gorgeous that I just don’t understand how she can so unanimously by picked as the prettiest member.)

    The annoying thing is that Korean standards for beauty seem to make someone’s beauty a fact rather than an opinion. Like, if you don’t have double eyelids, you’re ugly (although, then again…Sohee doesn’t O.o). If you don’t have a small face…well, that’s unattractive. If you’re fat, if you’re tan, if you don’t have a V-line, or an S-line, or chocolate abs…you’re not that great. It really irritates me. We have beauty standards in America too, but there are so many celebrities that break it. For example, it’s unattractive to be fat or overweight or what have you, but a lot of people (myself included) think Adele is beautiful, despite that most people would definitely consider her overweight.  

    One other thing that bothers me is when their skin looks super white in magazine shoots or something. :/ I know they do this in America too, but it’s usually just for classy fashion magazines where they want them to look like vampires or something. For example, that picture of Hyorin? Her skin is waaaaaaaaay more tan than that picture shows, and I don’t know why they bothered making it so light. I think she’s looks much better with her natural skin anyways. T_T

    • RC_RC

      You can’t believe that a lot of Koreans (how many?) point out Sohee as the prettiest, maybe Koreans can’t believe that 95% of the foreign fans point out Yubin as the prettiest. Those foreign fans must have standards for beauty too, else there would never be a 95% agreement. 

      • http://twitter.com/M_Wys Michaela Wylie

        Maybe that was a bad example. :/ Beauty standards are fickle things. 

      • jesuis2

        Otoh, K-celebs like Kim Tae hee and Song Hye gyo are seen as being absolutely gorgeous by both Koreans and foreigners alike (there really aren’t any idols who can compete with them in the near-perfect facial features dept.).

    • Peacefulreader

      Well, Adele is by definition overweight so calling her overweight isn’t meant to be mean it’s just true. There’s nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade.

    • jesuis2

      Sohee really isn’t tha pretty (tho prettier than the avg. girl) – she has a weak chin, among other things.

      Yoona isn’t even in the top 5 of prettiest in SNSD (wouldn’t say any of them is absolutely gorgeous like a Kim Tae hee) – her face is borderline too skinny (doesn’t have the classic heart shape) and when she contorts here face (due to smiling, laughing or some other facial expression), her facial contours look a bit weird.

      Along similar lines, Uee doesn’t exactly have the greatest facial features (she might be more popular/noted for her “honey thighs” than her face).

      As for double-eyelids, it’s not so much about actually having double eyelids (of which there are varying kinds) as it is having large (“bright”) eyes which is a universally desired trait in females (having “doe eyes” is the desired trait in the West and women will undergo surgery or use comestics to make their eyes “pop”).

      It’s the reason why articles on “How to Make Your Eyes Look Bigger” are so common (esp. in women’s magazines).


      Actresses like Han Ji hye and Hong Soo ah are noted for their beauty even tho they aren’t seen as having dbl lids (actually, they do have “hidden” dbl lids).

      And simply having dbl lids doesn’t necessarily make one’s eyes attractive – there are plenty of Koreans (and other Asians) with natural dbl lids but unappealing eye shapes/sizes (simply having a dbl lid doesn’t ensure having “bright” eyes). 

      The shape/size of the dbl lid is important as well; the most appealing being those who have mostly or partial hidden lids when the eyes are fully opened.

      Having larger/bright eyes is pretty much a female thing. 

      Males actually look better having the almond eye shape, Asian guys with particularly thick lids look weird (as do some Asian women like Kim Hee sun).

      • kgx6

        I think all of SNSD are attractive, but seohyun and yuri are the prettiest

  • Khaddie

    The colourism thing is so true, specially from your own race. I grew up in a place surrounded by blond hair and blue eyes, but out of everyone another Somalian girl said I was darker than her and said it with a sense of pride and picked on me for it. My primary school teacher went absolutely mental because she couldn’t for the life of her understand why someone would say something like that. There were other things, like the Fair and Lovely adverts in Egypt. I was young so I couldn’t really understand it, but if having 2 shades lighter skin gets you a job then it’s not the kind of place I would want to work in. Someone once said it increased confidence but it doesn’t change the fact that the message isn’t the best.

    This article cleared up quite a few things because I remember when I first got into k-pop I used to be baffled by Yuri being called “Black Pearl” because as far as I was concerned she was hardly any darker than the other ones. There are probably more that I can’t think of now, but the only one I have legitimately looked at and considered remotely tanned would be Yubin and maybe Hyori. The rest are darker, but only by a bit because they are compared to their very fair peers. This might be my own upbringing an the culture I grew up in, but it’s the same thing with the S-Line and idols being called “curvy”. My cultural ideals do not match with their view of curviness and if you have to stick your bum and boobs out then it isn’t an S-Line. Doesn’t count LOL.

    It’s also interesting that the “fair” ideal stayed, but the skinniness as a sign of not having enough food and being more heavy being a sign of wealth dissappeared as an ideal. At least I think it was an ideal if I’m remembering what I read correctly.

    • http://twitter.com/DancingWid Widney Gay

      Haha reading this I was like:”Was this girl raised in Haiti?” Growing up there mean that being skinny is a big no no. If you’re skinny it means you’re either too broke to buy food or sick. And so far I have yet to see a S-line Korean celebrity that meets Haitian standards. Like you said if you have to stick your butt out, it don’t count. And it always baffled me when they talk about dark skin because I truly can’t see it. Funny thing is most Koreans I have met in Denver or Chicago look like Yuri (as in same skin tone), and only a few looks deadly pale like Taeyeon and the rest.

      • Khaddie

        Not in Haiti no, LOL. But the way you describe the ideals I may as well have. With the Korean celebrities the closest (and that is still a bit far from someone like Beyonce) would be maybe Hyorin and Zinger, and that’s still pushing it. Doesn’t mean Korean celebrities are any less of women if their body is naturally skinny, but what I view as curvy doesn’t correlate with their idea of an S-Line.

      • straighttohelvetica

        “Only a few looks deadly pale like Taeyeon and the rest.” 
        And I wonder how much of that paleness is the result of make-up. Whenever I see fancams or fanpics of Taeyeon (basically anything where she’s anywhere but a fashion shoot or a television studio), she doesn’t seem THAT light. Yeah, she’s lighter than Yuri, but she’s not white. =/

  • WhoaNellies2

    I never really thought of it that way, most darker skinned idols like Yubin and Hyori are usually called the epitome of sexy because let’s face it, as soon as Hyuna lost her tan (which was for the better) she lost like 50% of her sexiness lol

  • http://twitter.com/DancingWid Widney Gay

    I loved this article because quite frankly I felt like you knew what you were talking about,  and it is quite convincing. To be honest, one of the main reasons why I get along well with most of my Korean friends, and why I don’t feel insulted when they make jokes about “dirty” looks amongst themselves, is because of those reasons given above. And on many occasions one or two of them have come to me and explain that they hope they are not being racist, and made sure that I was not offended. At first it wasn’t the case. Well let’s face it, someone call another dirty because that person has dark skin which is by the way many shades lighter than yours, you too your first reaction would be to look at my arm and think “wow they must think I don’t ever shower then” right? That is until you realized it’s more of a cultural thing than a racist thing.  I realized that many Koreans have two definitions for black. There is the black that means darker skin Koreans and the black that means people of African ethnicity. They (at least my friends) would never call “black” people dirty. 

    However my question to the author and also the readers is: “Although I know these kids are not being racist, should I condone this behavior?” I quite frankly find it of bad taste if not vulgar when, black people talk about “good hair aka loosely curled hair” and “light skin” like it’s the standard of beauty, or when Koreans say things such as “you’re so pretty you have double eye lids and you’re so white” to each other. Not only it’s of bad taste but seems to me as advocating self-hatred. It’s not like it’s something that they chose to be, or have. Every time I hear Hyorin or Yuri talk about not being pretty because they’re dark breaks my heart. How many time they must have heard people say that to her for her to feel that way, and say such a thing out loud? I hate favoritism in all its form, from harmless jokes about the “ugly one” to the blatant bullying of a certain type. I truly don’t think it’s racism (from someone who see racist people everywhere that’s big), but I thing it could lead to stereotyping, that could eventually leads to racism. Now that most people feel that the dark ones, are the sexy ones, because that is how they are portrayed in the media (don’t get me started on how tacky I find this logic), next you know people use that as an excuse to call them loose kids and slutty, now fitting dark ones in a box with a big “Spawn of Salome” written on it. My thing is although everybody does it in Korea, and there is a clear reason for it and where it’s rooted, i still think it’s wrong because it stratifies the society. it is proven though history that the creation of class, promotes hierarchy and superiority, which itself is wrong. No one man should be seen as better than another based on looks. 

    • jesuis2

      There has been a struggle btwn young Asian-American women/girls and their mothers who had immigrated from Asia.

      The mothers adhere to the Asian pale skin standard while many of their daughters (particularly those who grew up in “white suburbia”) want to get tan like their friends and peers.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/MMRQEZEPSNJ26LJ7XJNDDM5NCI JasmineA

      Im late but i just wanted to add my two cents, yeah I totally understand what your sayings, I don’t have any Korean friends but even being in kpop long enough you start to understand that its more a thing between koreans than it is with other races, but it still doesn’t make it right.

      ” Every time I hear Hyorin or Yuri talk about not being pretty because they’re dark breaks my heart.”

      This really breaks my heart too because I can relate so well to that. Im a twin, but a fraternal twin and the only difference between me and my sister is our skin color and she’s a bit taller than me as well so I guess that makes two differences lol. She’s very light skinned, like my mother and I’m dark skinned, like my dad. My sister always gets compliments on her looks, I always wondered as a child why people didn’t find me to be as attractive as her, I felt jealous of her and wished I had the same skin color as her even though we pretty much look the same in face. I even had a guy friend bluntly tell me I wasn’t as pretty as her. I mean they never said why I was less attractive but skin color had to be the reason since that’s pretty much the only difference. I had low self-esteem until probably high school then I realized how ridiculous that was.. I just dont get that…why would I be more attractive if I had lighter skin? I would have the EXACT same feautures, same nose, same eyes, same hair, Id be the same height SAME EVERYTHING, I just didn’t get why that would make me any more attractive lol. It just ridiculous but thats how the world works I guess, you really have to have a strong self-worth to deal with it and it builds over time. But yeah when I have kids i really don’t want that for them, I don’t want them to have to “figure out” that they are beautiful because we live in society that tells them otherwise :(. It’s sad that these girls don’t know how beautiful they are because of the society they live in as well.

      On a side note- People also think I look like my dad as well because we have the same skin tone. Even though me and my sister since were twins look alike mostly and we look like our mom, but people always say your sister looks like your mom and you look like your dad. My dad even tells them “No, she looks like her mother”. The reason why Im saying this is to give example of how people have such a hard time seeing pass skin color that they automatically think I look just like my dad because were the same skin tone and not really pay attention to anything else and that although there are probably tones of gorgooues dark skinned Koreans people will only see there skin and chose someone less attractive just because they are pale to put on a pedal stool and praise them for being beautiful.

  • ShineeWorld52911

    Lol embrace the tanness, I’m gonna b honest, and please don’t b offended, paleness is not attractive. Maybe it’s just my western perspective of beauty or the fact that I am tan and think its more beautiful, healthy look.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/G5BU6PIXGDVAYIUXBAAIKWRJ2I Emma

      I dont mean to be offensive either but I kind of prefer lighter skin. Not light as in GHOSTLY pale (as most Koreans would probably prefer to be lol). But I prefer lighter over tanner…at least on myself. Of course it totally depends on the person, but on myself I’ve noticed I dont look good when I tan :/. My skin just looks uneven and weird (and patchy). But people who are naturally tanned look perfect just the way they are. People who are naturally tan but bleach their skin to look lighter look weird as well. Point is, just be happy with your natural skin. It was made JUST for you and no one else would look better in your own skin than you:)

  • straighttohelvetica

    This was a really interesting article because colorism is often ignored in discussions about oppression. The “light is right” mentality isn’t limited to Asia, either. Black American and Latino communities deal with the same issues. (A relevant case would be the accusations that Beyonce has gotten/been portrayed lighter as her career has regressed.)

    And I’m glad you differentiated colorism from racism, because it is an important distinction. I wouldn’t say I’m offended when Heechul or Taeyeon go on and on about how much they prize their “milky white” skin, but it does bug me. Rarely are idols like Ryeowook or Yunho or Luna complimented for their darker skin tone. In fact, once in a video interview, after Luna said that she wanted to visit the States and dance with black women (which can be viewed as problematic on it’s own) another member of f(x) joked they’d lose her in the crowd.

    It’s interesting how the k-pop companies play with skin color to achieve a certain look. I really like how you pointed out the “darker=sexier” ideal that k-pop perpetrates, because I suppose I never looked at it like that (at least not in regards to Koreans. We all know how k-pop fetishizes foreigners). So there’s a reason that Hyuna and Yuri are both tan and considered sexy, while lighter-skinned Yoona and Taeyeon have always been considered cute (or, in other words, innocent.) For beauty ads and fashion, idols are lightened, but later for certain concepts, the same idols are darkened. (I can’t help think of Yunho’s look for the sexy “Mirotic” video vs. the romantic “Begin” video. Thanks to a combination of his own natural tan color, make-up and his dyed hair, the boy looks damn near orange in some of Mirotic’s promo shots.)

    Just an additional thought, I am confused by your theory of how the tan became popular in the West. From what I’ve learned, tans became popular as they were a sign that one could travel and/or were worldly. Poor people who worked day-to-day jobs could not afford to take time off to visit places like the beaches at California or the French Riviera. Wealthy people would go to these places and return darker (all over as opposed to the working-class farmer’s tan) or “sun-kissed.”

    • Gaya_SB

      I think you’re right about the tanning; I guess as transportation technology advanced, the wealthier people could afford to travel more often, and thus achieve the now-fashionable tan. This part always confused me a bit, but this information makes things clearer for me. Thank you for sharing!

      • Haibara Christie

        What’s interesting is that what’s fashionable isn’t necessarily dark skin–it’s the “sun-kissed tan,” that you can only get if you are white skinned and go to a beach or a tanning salon. (A sort of orange-brown color) So it basically says that I have enough money to go to the beach for a while but I’m definitely not someone who has to work in the fields, and dear god, no way am I from Africa or other countries that generally have people with darker skin.  Ah, prejudice persists.  

    • jesuis2

      You are correct about the change in outlook over having a darker skin tone (thru tanning) in the West.

      In Latin/South America, many Latinos of African or mixed heritage will get offended if they are referred to as black, since they see themselves as being quite different from blacks in the US, being Latinos/Hispanics with a darker skin tone.

      In the US, magazine covers or comestic advertisements have altered/lightened the skin tone of African-American singers/stars like Beyonce to portray a more innocent or appealing image to American public.

      Conversely, magzine covers have altered/darkened the skin tone of famous (or rather infamous) black men like OJ to depict a more threatening  image.

      In addition, in harder core hip hop/rap videos – the black women in the videos who are engaged in bumping and grinding and other sexual imagery tend to be of darker skin while in videos of black artists in more mainstream hip hop or R&B videos, the black woman who portrays the love interest tends to have lighter skin (as well as straightened hair).

      • http://twitter.com/#!/lovetigerfist xnopex

        all of this! thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/lovetigerfist xnopex

      the tanned=exotic thing in asia has always bugged the heck out of me because for all the love tanned idols may or may not recieve, there’s a host of south east asians don’t get that affectionate attitude at all! 

      shadism and colorism as it plays out in other cultures is one of the most infuriating and fascinating things to me. as i don’t get how you can differentiate a naturally darker skin tone, from a farmer’s tan from tanning on the beaches of hawaii if the result is all the same?

      what a planet we live on. 

  • WonderfulZingMin

    i’m yellow. what does that make me? quarter sexy, quarter ‘pure’ or ‘inocent’ and a half simpson?

    • GaCaRa

      haha sooooo funny my sides are splitting

  • Blah2341

    I get that they may not intend it to be racism, but I’ve seen instances on variety shows where people connect dark skin and ‘Africans.’ That would certainly come off as being racist. I guess it’s
    also important to distinguish between those who value white skin for purely aesthetic value and those who attach ethnicities and certain connotations to it.

  • Blah2341

    I get that they may not intend it to be racism, but I’ve seen instances on variety shows where people connect dark skin and ‘Africans.’ That would certainly come off as being racist. I guess it’s
    also important to distinguish between those who value white skin for purely aesthetic value and those who attach ethnicities and certain connotations to it.

  • http://twitter.com/dahe88 insan

     its hurtful how alot of people link negative traits with dark skin. dark skin shouldn’t be looked as an ugly trait or less attractive. this “the rich had a pale skin because they didnt work in the field” excuse should really stop. it only explain the preference not justify it. 

    and i dont like the heavy link between tan skin and sexy, its problematic. i cant go to little girls who think they are ugly and less worthy because of their dark skin and tell them, well your skin is considered sexy! people forget that colorism effect start since you are really young not when you are an adult. and the pale skin=pure, innocent, while tan=sexy. does get people to subconsciously believe that tan skinned=slutty, pale skin=classy. 

    • http://twitter.com/DancingWid Widney Gay

      I agree. The reason why some things exist does not provide justification for new generations with such broad access to technology, therefore different cultures, to continue to use that as a leeway to be mean. And who is to take responsibility for all the little girls that are hurt by those comments? Case in point is a certain friend of mine who is fighting with herself every morning to see herself as beautiful, despite the lack of the widely acclaimed light skin and loosely curled hair of some black woman, because where she is from she was considered ugly because of her dark skin and guys would not date her. However, i think the point the author is trying to make is that, although it is wrong but we should at least understand where these people are coming from. I say history teach us a lot of things. She did a good jobs in letting us know about how this kind of thinking came to be, not to justify it, but so that we can be more understanding and maybe find a different approach in letting people know why it’s wrong.

      • hippocampus123

        Agreed that people really need to stop judging on the basis of darkness. I mean I’m tan as tan can be, and I’ve never stepped foot on a farm. Is every Korean going to denounce my professional or educational background based on some preconceived notion of where I got my tan? I doubt I’ll ever be able to understand that.

        It really does suck when people who are supposed to be family/close to you judge you on the basis of your skin. When I was younger a lot of people asked me if I was adopted since I’m the only “brown” person in the entire family (guess skin color likes to skip generations) and my granddad said something that would always cheer me up.
        It’s great to have darker skin, coz diamonds will always look best on you (sorry it translates horribly in English) . It’s silly but it was adorable when I felt bad and he used to try to make me feel better. Now that I’m older, I realize that I’ll take my darker but clearer skin over a paler complexion any day. 

    • http://twitter.com/DancingWid Widney Gay

      I agree. The reason why some things exist does not provide justification for new generations with such broad access to technology, therefore different cultures, to continue to use that as a leeway to be mean. And who is to take responsibility for all the little girls that are hurt by those comments? Case in point is a certain friend of mine who is fighting with herself every morning to see herself as beautiful, despite the lack of the widely acclaimed light skin and loosely curled hair of some black woman, because where she is from she was considered ugly because of her dark skin and guys would not date her. However, i think the point the author is trying to make is that, although it is wrong but we should at least understand where these people are coming from. I say history teach us a lot of things. She did a good jobs in letting us know about how this kind of thinking came to be, not to justify it, but so that we can be more understanding and maybe find a different approach in letting people know why it’s wrong.

  • vip


  • http://twitter.com/sebsobandsky Sabah

    Interesting topic and something I think should be discussed since it doesn’t only affect Korea and Kpop but many other Asian countries too. 

    For me the crux of the matter is ‘supply and demand.’  We need to change ourselves, our thinking and our inclinations before we see a marked affect upon the supply.  If we don’t change our attitudes then we risk stifling our entertainment industry.  Talent knows no bounds, especially not skin tone.  

    Unfortunately, even if people don’t let their dark skin tone hamper their determination and motivation, in this industry it means a lack of opportunities.  Women and men who don’t conform to the ideal vision of beauty will invariably find themselves without support, even if they truly don’t care what people think, even if they don’t let it affect their hearts, it will have an effect on their careers. 

    However I have noted that nature evens the playing field, subtly but in a significant manner.  It may be a blessing to be thought of as beautiful by society’s standards in that it may make things easier in some respects, but it is truly an honour to be thought of beautiful by people through your actions, character and achievements.  There are many examples of people who have endeared themselves to the public through their character and manners.  Being ‘hot’ is something more than the symmetry and skin tone of your face.  Again there are many examples.  The truth is beauty fades but good character deepens. 

    One act or word can diminish any outward beauty in people’s eyes.  The science of micro-expressions tells us that our innermost beauty, held in our hearts is actually in plain sight. Our eyes note little nuances of expression, inflections in tones, that reflect a person’s true nature, so that no matter how beautiful or fair they appear to be, our heart senses something ‘ugly.’ 

    Still, we cannot sit idly by and let such injustices slide.  We need to even the playing field through proactive positivism.  It will be better for own souls, for our civilization, for what is ‘lacking’ in darker toned people who ‘need’ to use seduction to charm fans is…

    … support and appreciation from the public.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AlexandraAmaral Alexandra Amaral



    • http://twitter.com/#!/lovetigerfist xnopex

      you actually should see a problem with that preference. that preference is unfortunately embedded in a lot of cultures and it has awful consequences for those who don’t look like you. 

      yes you may suffer prejudices but you and people who look like you are far better off than everyone else. so for everyone who makes fun of you for looking “too white”, there are people who are targeted and beaten by cops for looking too black. there are people who are denied jobs and decent housing for “looking too dark”. there are kids in orphanages who were given up by parents for ‘looking too dark’. women (esp in brazil) are told to marry “light” so they don’t have dark children. there are women burn and scar their faces and scalps for trying to have skin and hair like you. i can turn on any popular brazillian show and see models and celebrities who look like you trying to sell me stuff to look like you despite that brazil is 70% POC (people of color). politicians had to pass legislation to REMIND people like you to treat people who DON’T look like you equally, with dignity and respect.

      being light-skinned or white comes with a host of privileges in brazil, and all over. it’s important that you realize that when you come on a post about shadism and colorism to complain.

      • kgx6

        aren’t you assuming that the people who call her too white don’t also tell others that they’re too dark?..

  • Seri Park

    Darker skin ages much better –> far fewer wrinkles with age

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/R5BKARJWK7NNOXYOIUSP76YJW4 Aj

    Asians do get obsessed with having whiter complexions.It’s not only Korea even my country is like that.Though I dont totally get why they think being fairer is more pretty.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ollian.chrollie Ollian Chrollie

      It is what you are taught as a child and it is hard to get rid of such teachings when you become an adult. So you go with the flow and keep the old mind set.

  • Ditu3ka

    Very nicely written article and interesting topic. It´s pretty much applicable for Asia in general I guess. And maybe not just for Asia. But maybe at the same time some parts of the World see it in totally opposite way. Anyway, I´m coming from pretty homogenous Caucasian society where people of different level of skin “darkness” are very common. But different hair and eyes colors as well as hair structure (naturally curly, wavy, straight) are always associated with different skin color. So when we talk about dark and fair we usually don´t talk only about person´s skin but about the “whole package”. There´re really no rules about what is better or more desireable, shade of your skin has to go well with your hair and eyes colors. It has to match nicely with each other = beauty. It´s truth that being tan is cool and sexy, being naturally dark skinned seems exotic but not always … being too fair skinned can indicate you lack vitamins but you can also be seen as a fairy princess. In societies where majority of population have the same color of eyes and hair, a tone of someone´s skin can be much more noticeable and therefore somehow “important”. I personally think that quality of your skin is much more important than its shade.

  • black_rose45000

    That’s a very interesting observation, with darker-skinned idols being marketed as sexy. But a part of me thinks not all of them, in fact maybe only a few, have been forced to that image.

    That aside, reading some of the comments here…I really don’t understand what’s with the obsession of white skin in some parts of the world (and worse, throughout history, with all the crimes inflicted on ppl of different skin than white). For the life of me, I can’t. It doesn’t cause money to sprout from the tree in your garden, it doesn’t make you immortal, it doesn’t make you any better than the person next door.

  • Haibara Christie

    In India, white skin is an obsession that did not start out as an element of “beauty,” but as a element of class structure. (A lot like the Slavery, and oppression thing, but not quite) When the Aryans (Not the Nazi kind) moved into India, the religions of the two cultures, Aryan and Dravidian blended into one, but not without the lighter skinned Aryans taking the top positions in the social order system (like any royal system) as well as the very highest caste, the priest class.  This association continues in a lot of Indian families today, as some “higher order families” (who are from higher castes, not necessarily of more money) become upset with brides for not being fair enough–for looking lower than their caste.  Though this doesn’t happen as much anymore, the social associations of the white skin=better still continues in Indian culture, but oddly enough, for girls more so than boys.  I can see it in movies: super dark main actor, super fair main actress.   

    Now, it has really become a beauty thing, just as it is the rest of the world. In India, some beauty product ads are really terrible: (I speak Tamil and don’t know an ounce of Hindi, so the ad I chose isn’t really known outside of Tamil Nadu)

    Vivel Beauty Soap

    Even if you don’t understand the language, you can probably get the meaning just from the Video.  Basically at a Medical School (seriously?), there are a bunch of college students hanging out before class, and the group of guys make fun of an overweight girl (calling her plump by comparing her to a fruit) and a darker skinned girl saying that she (“will continue to be dull” aka, ugly–notice that her clothes are traditional and darker as well.)  A pretty girl (fair and modern) walks by and the guys are head over heels. The pretty girl goes to the ugly girl and says that “our beauty is in our own hands” and hands the other girl the soap
    She uses it the soap and returns to class, with the boys still making fun of the uglier ones. However, when she walks in, donned in her new, “fashionable,” bright, western clothes to match her new skin, everyone is in awe and thinks she’s beautiful.  in other words, instant popularity.  

    There’s all sorts of things wrong with the messages in that ad, but it goes to show that even the countries that have a lot of darker skinned people (here I highlight South India) have an obsession with fairness.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513439726 Sharon Overlord

      Im Indian too and guaranteed, if u walk into an Indian store you will find Creams, soaps and other products that will make ur skin look white along with other beauty products. Even my mom made me bleach my face so that the hair on my face will look white and make me look whiter. I stopped that. 

      I like my darker skin bc it has a nice golden hue and sometimes I prefer it to be paler. But Im not so attached to this color thing, but its pretty common for Indians. All of our Bollywood actresses are very fair. The ads really are bad, and I remember watching Tyra banks and a person from Singapore I think, ruined her skin from all the bleaching products she used. Its too bad bc her skin was actually very beautiful before.

      Then I come over here, and everyone is complaining about being pale and looking sickly. This notion is absolutely weird for me, and pll who want to tan is just as bad as those who want to look pale. Going to tanning salons, using baby oil to make ur skin darker, etc, all of that is bad if it’s taken to the extreme.

      I dont know why in the west tanned skin is considered to be sexy. Maybe its bc pll in the West usually go to other countries for vacation and that’s seen as a sign of wealth?

    • Gaya_SB

      Back when we still had Sun TV, I’d have to sit through numerous variations of these goddamn Vivel ads because they were the main sponsor of “Thendral,” and those ads would make my blood boil.

      And you’re absolutely right about Aryan-Dravidian divide; I watched an episode of “Neeyaa Naanaa” where they brought in North Indian women and South Indian women, it was such an eye-opener.

      In the Aryan north, the film actors and actresses there are both fair skinned. But in the Dravidian south, the dark-skinned male protagonist is allowed to reign the screen, while our female lead HAS to be fair-skinned, to the point that actresses would be brought in from North India to fill these roles. They don’t speak a word of Tamil or Telugu or Kannada, but they’ll move their mouths to fit the dialogue to be dubbed later into the relevant language. In fact, I probably couldn’t even count on one hand the number of actresses in the Tamil film industry who are actually Tamil–the rest of them are either from North India, or as we’ve seen more recently, Kerala (but at least they can kind of manage due to the similarities between Malayalam and Tamil)

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/7SEJ4OGD7WG6DI4L5F3IEDFGCE Illusions-chan

      To the previous three posters: as a fellow Indian, I know exactly where you’re coming from.

      And it is ridiculous. The amount of fairness creams and lotions sold is astronomical. And it’s not just for women. I’ve seen men’s creams that are being advertised by popular actors and models, some of which definitely do not have as light of skin as is shown. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uvuQJJwusU. This ad just makes me cringe because you can tell that the actor is wearing a shade of make-up so light, he looks like he’s ready to play a vampire.

      But as much as we complain about it, the truth is that this trend is hard to break and people learn it from day within their homes. I can’t recall the amount of times that my grandmother used to demand that my mother bath me with milk as a child to whiten my skin. She would screech this ridiculous premonition that I wouldn’t get married being so dark.

      So with that in mind, seeing Korean culture emphasis fair skin isn’t that strange. In a funny way, it is a familiar burden and I’ve somewhat ended up accepting it sadly. One of the reasons I was impressed with EXO’s Kai was his willingness and ease with being called the dark one. That’s not an easy position to be, especially as a rookie. Whether or not you like the group, the fact is that with their popularity, they will have the opportunity to influence how young teens think and I think that Kai’s confidence with his skin is refreshing.

      However, the sad part is that he’s being sold as a sex symbol and that doesn’t help the issue. While it is allowing for darker tones to become more popular in the industry, it’s a sad notion because it won’t last. Once you’ve been labeled as sexy, it’s hard to break that label and after a point, you can no longer depend on it. And the problem isn’t with the younger generation, but the older ones around them. Not many older people are as willing to work with a self-proclaimed sex icon as they are with more wholesome presented idols because of these preconceived notions of both sex and skin tone. Even within my own household, I’ve heard my father refer to actresses of darker tone as looking untrustworthy or cunning, and that upsets me because I don’t see how such an inference can be made just be appearance.

      The issue is that changing the way people think about skin can’t be done as a wide-spread movement because you really can not fight the older generations, not in Asian countries at least. Instead, it has to be done by teaching children that their skin color is beautiful regardless of what it is, so that they can grow up without any negative preconceptions. And the issue with that is that you need people who truly believe this in order to teach it. And very few people in Asia do.

    • Whisperingnotes

      I remember that ad…..never watched it fully cuz it was so damn infuriating. When I lived in the South, I remember that in my school, the fair girls would ALWAYS be popular and as soon as a girl with milky white skin enter the school, it’s like the guys just can’t get their eyes off of her. It’s the same for fair-skinned guys too. -.-

      Does anyone here remember the fairness cream (don’t remember which) ad with Kajol and how unbelievably white she looked? Do they take us to be idiots or something? :|

  • Linda Toro

    I totally agree with the stereotype of “dark skins” in S. Korea but I don’t agree with the one of western civilizations. I have tan skin not because I tan, I was born with this skin color, and people still diss you just because you don’t have fair skin. The fairest your skin is the better, whether you are or not intelligent or talented it doesn’t matter. However, it depends on the country you live in, if the majority of the population is Caucasian, the prototype of beauty would be fair skin and blonde hair.

    • http://twitter.com/aznbaybii94 Linda Huynh

      Sad to hear about your experience but hey in the South they love tan skin! In my case I have pale skin(due to genetics since my parents were the lightest in the family) but during the duration of my middle school and high school yrs I’ve been made fun of by other ethnic groups even my fellow Asian peers for looking pale, and sickly like a ghost. Their standards of an Asian beauty was that of tan skin with the whole exotic feel. Whereas I looked like a creepy porcelain doll. I’ve been called a “white girl” countless times by random people in the hallway and even my own teacher didn’t know I was Asian until half of the school yr was almost over and she joked with another teacher saying “Oh, wow I thought you were a valley forge girl.” whatever the hell that means~ But oh well. I am mixed so I try to be understanding of their confusion(although I’m only 25% white majority of me is still Viet-75%). 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001235329632 Luiz Rodrigo Souza

    Here in Brazil I kinda observe that, but it’s more segmented. First, all I’ll apply more to women than men. The lower classes likes more the black/brunette women (mulatas/morenas), which are their sex symbols, a fact you can observe clearly in media. However, the higher classes praises more the whiter girls, with a kinda european look. This applies not only to the skin colour but to the hairs and body shape also.

  • jesuis2

    While Western imperialism has played a role in reaffirming “colorism”, the propensity towards pale skin in North Korea is just as strong, if not stronger than in South Korea – and they have largely been cut off from the rest of the world.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ODPDLOIUEYQPLM4I57KW2PDKUI lady c

    either light or dark tan skinned looks healthy and nice. whiter skinned look likes a dead ghost or zombie.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ollian.chrollie Ollian Chrollie

    I enjoyed this article, especially you pointing out that this is not racial. Hence the focus being fair or dark, not black or white. Asians are often considered yellow and American Indians, red. But the focus is black or white, most of the time.

  • http://twitter.com/brianheartsyou Brian Lord

    I think darker skinned Asian men (women too) are very sexy 

  • http://twitter.com/bapnaeggeoya bapgiveawaynaeggeoya

    Agreed on it being a classicist rather than a racist thing. Let’s look at it from the perspective of an average South Korean though. I doubt they will go that far, and more than likely, they will perceive fair skin as being more beautiful compared to dark skin, and inasmuch as it not being a racist notion, it still is a perception that should change, because you don’t choose your skin color, and it is sad that anyone should ever feel inferior about the color of their skins.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SRR322TBE4ZSTVLINY5MI2EX3E Diana

    My boyfriend is Chinese and Vietnamese and is dark skinned or tanned compared to me on a daily basis. He doesn’t need to try to get a tanned look, he was born with it. But I am 1/4 Japanese and the rest Polish-American so I’m really white, but I look more Asian. Which has led other Asian girls to ask me “How did I get so white?” But I was born with it, so I tell them to drink more milk or milk with honey because it’s great for the skin. Lmao. I can’t tan, I burn. Spray tan looks good on me, I tried it once before. But I do use BB Cream which enhances my light skin that’s close to Porcelain color. But I agree with this post, but thanks to Asians especially Koreans I have learned to accept my whiteness more, lol. I just find my boyfriend very attractive. 

  • As741852963

    You know what my mother always said that the people (dark skinned) who are always talking about how they feel about being out of place and uneasy are the ones who have low self esteem, and are too busy being focused on the exterior and not on the interior which is much more important and trying to become the best person they can possibly be, than thinking about how dark I am and being dark skinned, not saying dark skinned is “bad” (because my mother and I are dark) but it’s just not as appealing towards westerns or easterners…but I think that is because you don’t see a lot of attractive dark skins, and if they are dark they are always acting ghetto or degrading themselves.
    But I love my color, I actually find white people not as attractive and Korean guys not as cute either… but the girls are highly attractive, but like I said color will always be an issue, and color association will always remain, but the one thing, you can ONLY do is break the stereotypes, which I do.( I don’t act white and I don’t act black I just act like me, and a lot people ask me if I am Hispanic, and my sister Filipino, because we act so different)…So all I can say is ignore the hate, and the stupid crap and just do you, and be you…and enjoy being you, and rock the beautiful you, strong black, white, pale regardless….it doesn’t matter!!!!

  • Vivian Li

    This was really well-written :) I appreciate the fact that you made it perfectly clear that pale skin is valued in Asia, NOT because people want to look white, but because of Asian countries’ own historical and cultural influences and traditions. There are way too many white people out there who selfishly think that Asians like pale skin because we “want to look like white people”.

  • Strangerland

    I think you explained well why tanned skin is far more popular in the west today. For all of white westerners insistance that “tanned skin is normal- everyone can get tan from spending time under the sun” they forget in their arrogance that skins would grow paler too naturally the less time a person spend under the sun(meaning getting plaer is also natural process- though ofcourse you can’t get paler than your skin’s limit unless you have technology helps). Until the european’s quest to conquer other continents- skins of the wealthies were also as fair as possible. This is why they don’t add tanned look to their royals paintings of that era.
    It all changed after that though. Suddenly wealthy people means those who can spend time frolicking on another continents’ beaches, thus getting tanned skins. Suddenly they realized that the wealthy people are getting tanner instead of whiter. This is why “sun-kissed” look equal to cool lifestyle for the white westerners, while in Asia it’s still the past’ way of skin looks.

  • Beezra

    I’m so bummed because Rain’s abs are no longer chocolate. Looks like a head to toe bleach job. Frankly, he’s not as attractive in what’s not his natural skin tone. And the pink lipstick! Maybe the lipstick is an attempt to cover his naturally brown lips. The overall effect is not good.