Snail White

In sophisticated, urban Bangkok Thailand there is a wish to keep skin pale.

It is one thing to cover your skin in the heat.  Fashionably sleeveless, we see young women wearing stretchy elastic arm covers.  Some wear leg stockings, overshirts with long sleeves.  People who work outside all wear big hats with long cloth around the back to cover the neck, and attachment in front to cover the face nose-down.

It is sensible to protect skin from sun.  But some of these efforts are to keep skin light, to keep it from darkening.

Pregnant women are told, we hear, to drink soy milk everyday so their baby will be light.  Avoid coffee.

Most telling are the ubiquitous adverts for Snail White and Cathy Doll make-up- both skin bleacheners.

The ad backgrounds are most often white, actors clothed in white and pink, faces gleaming pale, almost iridescent, in the expanse of pastel.

How in a culture where the Buddha is everywhere, clad in gold and jewels and adored, looking like you with your eye folds, your nose, your lips- how can you not be happy with your beautiful brown skin?


7 thoughts on “Snail White

  1. Yup- I saw the same thing when I lived in India and see it in Malaysia too. It can become a status thing too as the people who do work outdoors all day tend to have darker skin than those who are inside. It is sad (and hard to find skin products that do not have these whiteners in them).


  2. I have enjoyed ALL your writings while on vacation! A VA 5th grade reading standard is: Identify, compare, and contrast relationships. YOU are a master at this skill. Then you add your own ponderings so clearly after you compare and contrast. I think you are so good at this because you are a skilled observant. I find myself sitting in a place now and thinking, “What would Fran see here?” and I push myself to really LOOK! Thank you!


  3. Looking outward and comparing oneself is a thing we all do, but when the culture exemplifies perfection for something that isn’t always attainable, it becomes tragic. I see those tan faces here & know they believe it’s a summer need, and now you share the contrast in another culture. Profit somewhat drives it too, don’t you think?


  4. Interesting – I have noted this before. I do not get it. If you are dark you want to be light and those who are light are seeking a tan to darken. I do wish we could all just be happy with who we are. Thanks for your posts along your journey!


  5. These are such interesting ponderings, Fran. I wonder where these cultural ideas of what we are supposed to look like actually originate from. We could say the media, but, I think they come from way before the tv was invented. As I struggle with my own changing body now that I’m 50, it’s hard enough to accept our bodies for what they are (or are not), let along feeling the added pressure of changing it’s color!


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