Student - 9 juni 2015

Blog: Is a fair skin more beautiful?


Most Europeans can’t wait to get into the sun and enjoy a barbecue on a sunny day in the weekend. Yet, brown skinned women try to stay out of the sun to prevent their skin from getting darker, writes Mary Shrestha.

Recently I joined a barbecue event with friends by the riverside. It was a very sunny, hot day, so I had put on sunblock to prevent my skin from tanning. While I was enjoying the warmth, my focus was also on staying out of the sun as much as possible. I sat in the shade and used my hand to keep the sun out of my face when necessary.  

At the same time, my friends kept staying in the sun. I was amazed to see the difference: white women long for a tanned skin tone and brown women long for a fair skin tone.

There are so many differences in these two worlds. Back in my home country, and throughout South Asia, it is considered beautiful if a person, especially a girl, is fair. Even those who are not that fair try to make their skin look lighter with the many cosmetic products that promise fairness. It should also be noted that these ‘fairness products’ are being advertised and sold widely, unlike here. For many of us it was a shock to not find many fairness cosmetics when we first came to Europe.

Fairness is perceived as beauty and this also has a connection with societal pride and marriage. A fair-skinned girl often is the pride of a family. In addition to this, men and their families long for a bride/daughter who is fair.

While being light-skinned (white) is a dream for most women in South Asia, women with a white skin tone often desire a tanned skin. As I think about this, I feel very happy and comfortable with my skin tone right now. Maybe because, for a change, I have a skin tone that my friends, who are fairer, are longing for. I might, consciously or subconsciously, be influenced by the preferences of my surroundings, which are currently in my favour. It is well said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Mary Shrestha is from Nepal and she is doing her master in International Development Studies at Wageningen University.

Re:acties 3

  • Lele

    If White women tan, it's usually like the Jeniffer Anistan tan. It's not really brown, but more like a light golden tan color. What's funny is that White women would put lead (very toxic) substances on their skin to make their skin even fairer! However, I am seeing less White people tanning like crazy. I see more White women happy with their fair skin tones. But in Asia, fair skin is of course in.

  • Captain Smiles

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder

  • bloempje

    In the Middle Ages women held also fair skin in Europe.


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  • Rajnandini

    I am an Indian girl,with light-tanned skin, everyone in the indian society wants 'white skin' . I too wanted myself to be fairer, but now i see that white women actually want my skin color , ..i mean the kardishians have gotten themselves even darker then i like my skin tone..

  • Layla

    I am a white skinned person and like to tan but there is a BIG difference in getting a golden color than being a brown. So as far as people tanning wanting to look like a brown skinned person you are way off.

  • Gen

    Black is okay. Get a life and stop being so insecure

  • genesis

    dark skin is more beautiful now LOL now its popin' yall really gonna have to tan real bad. Men and woman with light skin tones want us brown skin yall aint that cute, edomites or red skinned hell i bet your husband/boyfriend dark skinned

    • Sasha

      You have insecure issues

  • Deanna

    White women who are naturally pale should NEVER intentionally tan themselves beyond normal sun exposure. Purposely tanning beyond normal exposure is ridiculous. Pale skin is so beautiful and pure and I just don't understand why anyone wouldn't want that.
    White women who are naturally tan like mediterraneans look better with a tan because they usually have brown hair and eyes to go along with it. Blondes have no business tanning. It looks horrible and unnatural.

  • Cory

    I am a white European. Growing up I was always disgusted by my classmates that spent so much money and time on tanning their skin. It seemed shallow to me. I had an acquaintance that was a foreign exchange student from Thailand. At the time, I didn't know that fair skin was held in such high regard in her country. She expressed a similar disgust for their tanning to which I emphatically agreed. Looking back, I see I must have hurt her, as she herself was not fair, like I was. I didn't mean to imply her natural skin color was not beautiful (it was) or that mine was better. I only meant to agree that such a vain, unhealthy habit was wrong. I feel so sad to think I reinforced bad feelings about herself.

  • T

    Nice written. I was also impressed by the pale girls when I was in China last summer. I'm pale and after 4 weeks in sunny weather I tanned a bit. When I was in the metro in Beijing I stood next to a girl with our arms next to each other, we both saw the difference and I saw on her face a smile; she was lighter.

  • Hans

    Yes, People always want those things which they don't have. Its same for the skin colour, hair colour and type, eye color, and so on. I think the discussions on summarises some of the reasons. One of the main aspect is Socio-economic condition. All want to have high status and want to look and behave like the wealthy do. For westerners a tan signalizes wealth, because you can afford holidays in the sun, while for poorer nations, a tan means you have to work in the sun, hence belonging to lower classes.