Brown Skin Is Beautiful Skin

Published in: Beauty Tips, Just For Fun

Hi, girls. I don’t usually reprint posts from the archives, but I stumbled across one from June 2007 that still strikes a chord with me.


I think it’s more about being considerate than it is about political correctness, cultural mores or stereotypes, but tell me what you think.


Two weeks ago I watched an Oprah episode titled “Children Ashamed of the Way They Look,” which also launched a new campaign to promote self-esteem for younger girls, O Girl, O Beautiful.

Oprah’s guests — celebs and a few regular people — talked about their experiences with beauty and self-esteem within their various communities.

The story of two of the guests, Tangela and her son Najee, resonated with me, and here’s a copy from the Oprah website:

As a child, Tangela says she was teased and tormented by other African-Americans because of her dark complexion. Then, when she was 19 years old, Tangela found out she was pregnant with her first child. While most expectant mothers just hope for a healthy child, Tangela prayed for something more.

“I would just say to God, ‘Please don’t make my son dark. Please don’t make my child dark,'” she says. “I didn’t want him to experience what I experienced … being called names, being talked about.”

When Tangela’s son, Najee, was born with dark skin, she says her heart ached for his future. “I saw people looking at him as if something was wrong with him,” she says. “That’s the pain that I really felt, more so than my own darkness.”

When Najee was 5 years old, children started teasing him about his complexion. In kindergarten, he says a female classmate, who was also African-American, made a hurtful remark that he remembers to this day. “The negative comment was, ‘Oh, you’re so black,” he says.

As Najee grew older, the insults continued. “I’ve been called names like darkie, dark chocolate, blackie,” he says. “Most of my negative comments do come from other blacks, and it’s extremely painful.”

Najee says he tries to hide his deep-seated insecurities from his friends and family by pretending to be happy. But deep down, a lifetime of low self-esteem is starting to take a toll on him. “Sometimes I have felt that I didn’t even want to be on this earth,” he says. “Sometimes I wish that God didn’t make me this way.”

His mother says her biggest regret is not understanding how much pain Najee has been feeling over the years. Tangela says she tried asking Najee if anyone teased him, but he never wanted to discuss it.

“I tried to give him books and encouragement and let him know he was beautiful. He had beautiful teeth,” she says. “It almost didn’t matter how much I told him because I didn’t know what was going on.”

Tangela and Najee’s story made me think of how skin color is treated within my culture. I’m Filipino, and my experience with dark skin color sounds a little like theirs. Most Filipinos consider lighter brown skin more attractive. If you’re a young Filipino girl running around outside you usually have an aunt, grandmother or an older family friend yelling at you to get inside “before you get too dark.” And if you do tan somebody is going to make a comment about it; note: it’s never positive.

My regular skin color is on the darker side, but since I love the sun and being outdoors, I’m apt to get even darker with a tan. Several of my close Filipino friends and family constantly comment on the state of my brown-ness: “Karen’s too dark,” “Karen, your skin is sooOOOooooo dark,” and shameful remarks like “It’s too bad you’re dark like me.”

I can’t lie — it bothered me for a really long time. I would usually just shrug and try to play it off like, “Oh, well, what can ya do?” 🙂

Last year a close Filipino friend of 20 years made a comment a few days before my wedding. I don’t know if it my was pre-wedding insanity, but I just snapped. I told her very matter of factly that, yes, I was pretty damn brown, but that’s just how I was and that I LOVED MY SKIN COLOR and that BEING DARK WAS THE SHIZZ.

I’ve decided to celebrate my tan fabulousness but still get a touch upset when a friend or loved one makes one of those comments. Instead of shrugging it off I’ve decided to try to engage them (only the friends and family) in respectful discussion: Why do you think its okay to make that comment? Have you noticed that I never frown and say “You’re so pale”? Did you ever think that repeatedly saying something like “You’re too brown” to another Filipino might be hurtful?

I know that talking about it with my friends and family won’t revolutionize negative cultural stereotypes anytime soon, but it feels like the right thing to do.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. Right now I’m packing up my suitcase in the hotel room and sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup. Our flight leaves from Miami at 7 tonight, but it’s a four-hour drive from here to there. I can’t wait to see Tabs and my family back home. Hopefully my homage to Hemingway’s house helped my writing skillz, but something tells me it doesn’t work that way, LOL!


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So far, 68 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Justine says:

    I call myself (and my brown Filipino skin) the colour most other people would LIKE to be through the use of self-tanners, bronzers, etc. I love my skin colour and sometimes it frustrates me looking for makeup (especially from asian brands, ironically) because products tend to be shades too light (or have ‘whitening’ aspects).

    I love this post. ♥.

    Justine´s last blog post..Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog

  2. Melissa says:

    I feel you. Brown is definitely beautiful.

  3. Archelle says:

    This is a great post! I’m naturally ghostly white, and you know, among white people, it’s better to be dark, I’ve found. People say, “you’re so pale!” or “I wish I had a tan” and stuff like that. I like the way I am, and there’s nothing wrong with that. My heart aches for those kids that get teased, though.

  4. Luv J says:

    Isn’t it horrible Karen? Girl, I’m Filipino and born with very light skin as my daughter has now.. a couple of years ago on a Hawaiian vacation, some of my relatives were appalled to see me slathering on tanning lotion.. they looked at me like I was crazy and that my skin would forever be tainted!! Why oh why my friend.. it is sad that at this day and age, people are still initially judged by the color of their skin. And sadly, there are still people out there who are brainwashed by society or maybe their own prejudices that in order to thrive and be accepted, your skin must be of a “certain” coloring.

    Back then, when asked if I have a preference on race/nationality as far as to whom I date or hang out with.. I always say.. “Heck no! This girl is COLOR BLIND!” Believe me, my children will grow up looking through the same set of eyes as mine!

  5. yadiq says:

    i think this is such an impacting post – the same principle occurs in latin culture as well and it irritates me to no end. in my family we are all colors my dad is dark tan and my mom is medium tan – my sister is tan and my sorry @ss came out pale in relation. I always yearned to be darker tan like them – to this day! yet people always used to tell me i was lucky because my skin was rather fair for a latina – i felt left out lol cause the majority of my family direct and extended all have some color ( i took after my super light grandma lol) even still the stigma involved with color is so disgusting. i work in an office where i am the only latina and my lighter skin comes across as “dark”. when i came back from vacation everyone commented on my dark brown golden tan asking if i had switched to the other side. i personally found that so offensive and decided to ignore the ignorant comment. i find brown is beautiful and has the power to hold so much more that meets the eye in terms of carrying bold rich colors and as i saw on housewives of ATL “brown skin almost has like a built in sunscreen protection” lol i had to throw that in if you’ve watched them you know the episode when kim is getting her botox and sheree accompanies her. this is a great post and i think its great to voice the idea of how to confront people when they make dumb comments as such – hair texture is a similar comment i have dealt with over time over the years i have embraced my curls and celebrate them in all their fabulousness but people will tell me all the time why dont you blow dry it or flat iron it to make it straight – or your hair is so frizzy – everyone in our family would pray when a child was about to be born saying “i hope it has “good”hair” – my comment is god made me as such why should i fight every day to change what i am. we should all embrace what we have and celebrate it especially in this era where most everyone is mixed with another ethnicity its is only like this that i believe we can over come the stigma of what is considered “beautiful” sorry for the super long comment but this is somethign i deal with everyday and feel so strongly about – thanks for the repost let us celebrate cultural beauty and be thankful for the features we have!

  6. Anina says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past couple of months and after a couple of weeks, i really wanted to say thank you because I was so glad to see someone who loved make-up and had my skin coloring! So this blog is so helpful!

    And I so know how you feel. I’m dark and have always been so—I also have curls so really down here in Manila, I’m an odd thing since I totally celebrate the skin color and even my wavy hair.

    Thanks so much!

  7. Katee says:

    I can’t believe that people actually say horrible and hurtful things like that. I think it is really sad that in the year 2008 we are still dealing with this.

    Katee´s last blog post..Lippmann Collection – Limited Edition Holiday Nail Polishes

  8. Nell says:

    I have been called deathly pale, sick, vampire, ghost etc. all my life (it is safe to assume that I am very fair skinned). Isn´t it strange what an importance something like the color of skin is given all through different cultures and societies. Skin color stands for a lot of insecurities and fears in ourselves and regarding others.

    Thank you for this post.

  9. nikita says:

    Thank you for this post and the one from your archives!! I also wrote a post on my regular blog about the whole “white is better” attitude among our fellow filipinos, especially in the Philippines. I recently visited the Philippines earlier this year and just amazed at the amount of skin whitening products they sell in the beauty section of the stores. Hell, I was afraid to buy anything for fear of accidently purchasing something with a skin whitening agent. I’m damn proud of my darker pinay complexion and brushed off all attempts by my relatives to cover up more if they saw that I would be out in the sun.

    I wrote a post about the lighter skin mentality in the filipino culture when I came back to the US. Just yesterday, I got this idiot who called me “weak-willed” for saying that filipinos should embrace their brown skin and stop trying to bleach their skin white.

  10. Elle says:

    I love this post, Karen! I totally feel you on all of the comments from your relatives…I’m the darkest one in my family and I hate hearing comments and questions from relatives about why I’m not as ‘fair’ as my mom or sister. You take the better route with what you do by engaging them in conversation–I usually just turn into a brat (well, as bratty as a 25-year-old can be 🙂 ) or change the subject.

    You’re gorgeous and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

  11. Glosslizard says:

    What a beautiful post! I don’t know if it’s because I grew up right next to Berkeley (or maybe because I was clueless about such things in school :P), but I have been lucky enough to miss out on these kinds of comments directed at me or others. I think all skin colors are so lovely, and, makeup-wise, each shade presents new fun and challenges in finding flattering and complementary color approaches! Vive la difference!

  12. Preeti says:

    Hi Karen,

    Oh Lord! It’s the same exact thing in the Indian community. After reading the previous comments, I feel encouraged that perhaps the next generation will be more evolved with regards to skin color and come to appreciate the beauty in all skin shades. Can you imagine how freakin’ boring the world would be if every Filipino, Indian (insert any ethnicity) was the same shade of brown?!

  13. Dao says:

    I feel you girl! Despite what we do, there’s always something in us that people don’t like. My father’s side of the family has this really nice porcelain skin that I inherit but my mom is kind of tan and her dad (my grandpa) was really light skin and handsome. Growing up, people always said, “Too bad you don’t have your dad’s skin tone” to her when she was a really pretty child (and still pretty today!)

    It’s really superficial for people to comment like that and for me, I try not to do such things. People just celebrate whatever you have, light skin, dark skin, fat, thin,… What you have is yours and others may envy you for that. For years, whenever my relatives get together, they comment 3 things about me: (1) my eyes, (2) my nose, (3) my acne-proned skin. For the first two, the “suggestion” has always been, “Save up some money and get plastic surgery!” and I’m glad my mom came to my defense by saying, “it’s good for her future to look that way. Plastic surgery changes your fortune, you know!”

    The last one, I work really hard to keep my skin nice and those who are struggling with zits know that it’s very unpredictable and you have to be very consistent with the routine. So yeah, once in a while I also snapped but now I’m all proud of my small eyes and flat nose. Hey, if I can make myself look good while a sleuth of makeup artists are stumped at applying makeup to my eyes then I’m a champ.

    Btw, I saw that episode as well and was moved by it 😉

    Dao´s last blog post..Face Contouring: Getting a Nose Job without Surgery!

  14. Jaime says:

    I completely understand! I have a very pale, ruddy complexion, and if I forget to wear foundation I always get asked – “Why are you so red? Your cheeks are so red, are you blushing? Did you get windburn?” It’s so annoying. It reminds me not to be nosy though, and to refrain from asking other people questions like that – even if I don’t mean anything by it. I would love to have your skin, though, Karen! It’s beautiful. Thanks for this post!

  15. Melia says:

    Hiya! I’m pale skinned (for Greek standards), my Dad is dark olive skinned and my Mom is pale. With my really dark hair, my paleness really stands out. I’ve been asked if I was an albino, why am I so pale, “Why CAN’T you tan? Hahahaha”. My Dad kept on telling me, when I was younger, that if I stay out longer in the sun, I’ll tan eventually (Right Dad, the bright red I’m sporting is my pre-tan). My favourite question is from friends who ask me if I’m a goth or emo. I do like that kind of music, though I don’t dress that way, but the way these people ask me, just makes me laugh.
    The “in” way to be in Greece is to be tan all year round and especially during summer (April-October), not my cup of tea. For the past 5 years I finally stopped trying to tan to “fit in” and try to show off my paleness. I also refuse to answer such remarks that make me feel uncomfortable and ask them back how do they feel about being tan, does that make them “fit in” or something like that. That usually stops the questions and the teasing for me.
    I’m me, you’re you, aren’t we still human?
    Thanks for this post…..

  16. nosh says:

    What is it about cultures where tan people exist?? I’m Pakistani and I’ve also had to deal with this my whole life. My family is a mix of medium and light skin tones and I fall into the darker category with my mom and sister being the palest. My mother is always commenting and saying things like “what did you do your face?? You were so white when you were little”. And everyone has to compare me to my sister (who happens to be 8 years younger).

    And what gets to me even more is that my little brother is an avid soccer player. He’s out in the hot sun every summer and he gets very tan. They never say ANYTHING to him and they shrug it off because he’s a BOY! What the crap! My sister and I get stern looks if we even wear short sleeves in the summer when we go outside.

    I know my mother means well (“How are you going to get married if you keep getting darker every year”… ugh, seriously??) but all it has served to do is to turn me into a paranoid skin care freak who runs away from sunlight.

    And I have to admit, your website has been so incredibly useful to me. I used to think makeup only looked good on pale people and yours was one of the first blogs I found where I could picturize products on someone of a similar skin color. You restored my faith in humanity! lol 😀

  17. Rachel says:

    Preach it girl! Being European, I find it crazy that someone with your beautiful skin is considered “too dark” where many white girls would kill for a deep dark tan. I don’t understand why there is always such a struggle to be something you’re not. My dad is naturally tan and my mom is very fair, so me and my sister are stuck somewhere in the middle. I just like tanning cause I love the feeling of being in the sun and feel that a darker complexion looks better on me and my dark hair. But many girls I know have the most gorgeous porcelain skin, and should definitely keep it that way!
    Keep sportin that beautiful color of yours!

  18. Roxy says:

    aww i feel you on that one too. i grew up in hawaii and even though i didn’t go to the beach a lot, i was suuuuper dark! and it does hurt that people still say those mean things but i think as u grow older u just realize that it really doesn’t matter and to shrug it off!

    Roxy´s last blog post..Eyeko – get TWO free gifts with purchase!

  19. cloudburst says:

    The preference for lighter skin appears across many ethnic groups. I find it beyond ironic that so many non-caucasian groups are obsessed with light skin, especially because in North America the standard for beauty is to be tanned, and I see many caucasians sporting tans (fake or otherwise) that make them much darker than me (I’m of Asian heritage). That type of “lighter is better” attitude is an ugly internalization of stereotypes, both racial and class based.

    I think it’s great that you brought the topic up because it’s important to recognise that the pressure to look a certain way extends far beyond the pages of magazines and movie screens. Cheers to you for that!

  20. Gemma says:

    Awww, I’m a dark filipina too. My dad used to tell me to use that Eskinol skin whitener to lighten my skin and my mom told me to sleep with a clothespin on my nose so it would be skinnier. LOL! I’m glad later on when I went to college, I met a bunch of cute boys who love tanned skin and exoitc features =)

    Gemma´s last blog post..11/25 Foundation/Lip/Cheeky

  21. Tekoa says:

    Filipino is your genetic heritage! I was pondering who your ancestors were when reading the wedding post. My thoughts were “Dang, Karen has a killer skin tone and hair.” I always thought darker skin tones were pretty. Pigmentation has its advantages. You don’t look like a vampire in pictures <— aka me.

    On the other side of the fence, I find it exasperating that Caucasian people use various tanning methods to make their skin darker. “Oh, I’m so pale. I wish I was darker.” Oiy! Can’t we all just be satisfied with the skin tone God gave us?

  22. Judy says:

    It’s so funny you wrote on this topic – I’m Mexican (yes, born there, my whole family is from there but now lives in the US) and I get offended when people tell me that I can’t possibly be Mexican because I have fair skin & blue eyes. It’s incredible hot stupid and hurtful people can be.

    On another note – have a safe flight and a great, happy Thanksgiving!

  23. Faye says:

    Hi Karen! I’ve been following your blog for awhile and this is my first time commenting. Love this post. I’m Filipina and from the Bay AreAa, too! My husband is Caucasian and he wishes he had my tan. lol Maybe my toddler will get some of my color when she gets older. I’m annoyed that the “standard of beauty” in the Phils. is that porcelain white skin. I love seeing a confident BROWN Pinay!

    Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  24. Hi Karen,

    I have two friends at work who are Filipino and both pretty light. I have noticed they loathe being in the sun and avoid it all summer long. They never want to eat lunch on the patio unless its totally shaded. After reading this I think that might be why and I just never knew. Thanks for opening my eyes to this. It’s sad that people care about superficial things like the levels of light/dark skin color instead of who a person actually IS! Have a great flight back to cold and rainy SF!

    Vampy Varnish´s last blog post..Carolyn New York Swatches

  25. E.D. says:

    I get the “pale” and “curly” comments, but most of the comments are positive.

    After reading this, I do worry about my two nieces though. They are both 1/4 Filipino. One has light olive skin, brown curly hair and hazel eyes. The other has very pale skin, blond straight hair and blue eyes. Luckily, they are both still small (3 and 1) so hopefully nothing has started up.

  26. Sheila says:

    Wow, I had no idea. I’m fair skinned with blond hair and green eyes. I grew up in California and getting the perfect tan was always the goal. Even though I am so fair, I do get a pretty dark tan. At least I did until I moved to Seattle.

  27. Karen B says:

    I hear you about stupid comments like that. I have the opposite problem. Everyone in my family tans very easily and I’m always white.

    Karen B´s last blog post..What colour today?

  28. Tami says:

    Hey Karen,

    As an african american, this is something I have faced most of my life. I recall when I was about 8 years old a boy asked me if I was black or white (I am light complected but have gotten slightly darker over the years). Over this summer I had co-workers constantly using me as a tanning guide. While the comment from the boy didn’t bother me (I just responded black and kept going), I was actually bothered by the co-workers although I never said anything. To me it all comes down to be comfortable in your own skin. I, for the most part, am comfortable in my skin. There are days when I struggle with my self esteem but that’s for reasons beyond skin complexion and another story for another day. If these people were truly comfortable in their own skin, they wouldn’t need to say “I’m trying to get your color”. I see beauty as running the gamut from pale to dark. No one is more or less beautiful because of being lighter or darker.

  29. Christina says:

    That’s a wonderful post. I’m also Filipina so I understand where you’re coming from. Just from reading your post, you are definitely beautiful inside and out. Don’t let those old sckool comments get to you.

  30. Hillary says:

    Great post, Karen. My best friend from childhood is Filipino, and I always envied her skin (I’m very fair, and turn lobster red in the sun). I don’t understand where all of that discrimination comes from. It’s like you’re damned if you’re dark and damned if you’re pale. I was constantly teased for being so white, and always asked why I didn’t get a tan. Aside from the fact that I couldn’t tan, I didn’t want to damage my skin. I’m thankful now that I’ve protected my fair skin, and I’ve learned to embrace my fair tone. I still find dark skin to be stunning and exotic, though. I agree with other posts, beauty runs the gamut from pale to very dark. God created us all exactly the way we’re supposed to be, and he doesn’t make mistakes. What a boring world it would be if everyone were the same. For the record, your skin is gorgeous.

  31. Devi Girsang says:

    Great post! I believe people should accept just the way they are 🙂

    Devi Girsang´s last blog post..Bali Home Spa Body Butter

  32. Holly says:

    Oh my goodness this is something that I was completely unaware happened in this day and age! Its so strange that it seems to be so culturally specific, myself being so straight down the line English looking white skin and blonde hair I spend my whole life (and lots of money) buying false tanning products, having spray tans and spending all my summer holidays frying in the sun in an attempt to be as dark as physically possible and on the very rare occasions that I have gone into work without any tan on everybody tells me I look ill!

    The funniest thing of all is that you are told you are too dark, yet you wear the same Chanel foundation shade as pale blonde me haha!! I guess the grass is always greener on the other side!!

  33. RetroRiotGrrrl says:

    I have the same problem but opposite on the color spectrum. I’m caucasian and very very pale. (people often tell me i look like a china doll color wise) I love my pale skin and don’t like the way I look with a tan.(though i love others with tans) But I get constant flack for my pale tone with insults ranging from vampire to that scary bitch(note the later may be b/c of my personality but people also tell me i look scary) Anyway I feel your pain and all I can say is sisters of all colors UNITE!

  34. Shana T says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m really really pale with “summer” freckles. When I was young I got teased all the time for being too pale! Let’s see…. I was called ” Powder”, Night light, flourescent girl,oh and in the summer when I got freckles I was always “Speckles “. It sucked! I grew up in an enviroment where having a tan was considered beautiful and cool. When I moved to Asia I was constantly told that I had beautiful white skin but it was too bad that it was ruined by the freckles. People here constantly ask me why my skin has spots all over it in the summer.Asian people all want to be white. Every major western skin care line here has whitening products, all of them!It used to really hurt me when people made comments about my skin. I’d get so mad at their ignorance!But know I’m used to it and I just ask them why they think it’s ok to talk about my skin that way. My Filipino friends all want to be lighter and they always cover up when they go out in the sun. I once went to the beach with a Taiwanese friend and she sat on the beach the whole time with every inch of herself covered by clothes, gloves, a hat, and huge sunglasses. The killer is that she sat under a huge black umbrella too! What kinda life is that if you can’t even enjoy the beach! Thanks for letting me vent! I think your skin is beautiful and I think my skin is too! And my husband(who is Asian,and very tan)loves my freckles!

  35. Alice says:

    Hi Karen! I think all this skin color issue is being missed when i read about girls complaining about the too pale skin. Is totally different when somebody is “too dark” for a culture/ society. I only say that because I have “white” features despite my tottaly diverse background, and my brothers and sister are black, various shades 🙂 I feel the difference in respect and in the way people look at them and at me, i suffer no prejudice of this kind and they are always in this type of situations. I look pale and i´m blond, i´ve been called ghost at school. But we have to understand it´s not the same as being looked as inferior because of a darker skin color.

  36. Rae says:

    I’m the complete opposite of this – with a family of medium-toned skin, I somehow managed to be an NC15/20 with light freckles just topping my cheekbones.

    When we went back to China for the first time it was a major shock to me that my skin was what everyone wanted – I’d never thought much of it before then! It was all “oh, she’s so pretty, look at that perfect white skin!” – with friends back at home spray tanning, I was majorly confused!!

    Unlike the rest of you, though, I’ve never been mocked for my skin colour. No one’s ever told me it’s too yellow, too light, too freckled. I’m lucky in that way, I guess: growing up in an upperclass school, and a challenge class, my classes have always been at least 50% coloured (mainly with Asians like myself!)

    I take advantage of my skin, though, and take great care of it – SPF 55 if I’ll be in the sun and a daily SPF30 all-year, and I play up my pale skin and dark hair with red lips and simple winged liner. Though I love your skin (I would love to be able to wear colour the way you do!) I do love mine more – not because it’s lighter or whiter, though.

    I love it more because it’s mine.

    Rae´s last blog post..What’s on your holiday wishilist?

  37. Kanita says:

    That’s just funny to me because I always wish that I was born more tan because I look so sick when I am my natural pale color, (once the summer tan I worked so hard to get wears off). Ethnicity aside, I think everyone does look better darker, darker skin just glows and looks so amazing with makeup. I can’t believe people still make these kind of judgments though, and what astonishes me the most is that it seems to come most from people within the same race.

  38. Lee says:

    I feel you too. Color also place an important part in the Hmong culture. The lighter the better. Growing up, mom and Hmong friends would tell me I was too dark to ever meet a good looking and smart man.

    Lee´s last blog post..Hmong New Year

  39. Michele says:

    Karen- I read your post with great interest re; your heritage and skin color. Why is everyone so hung up on skin color? When are we going to accept the inevitable?
    I am cauasion but I tan very dark and I have curly dark hair and green eyes. Keeps ’em guess’in Karen all the time. They are never sure. Is she or isn’t she? And I like it the just the way it is. I am proud of my looks . I never need a perm & I don’t need to go to tanning salons (not good) either!
    Anyway, I also get to have fun with lots of deep pigment eye color. Probably why I love eyemake – up so much. I think I own every color they ever made. and By the way, I read your post everyday- it is intoxicating!

  40. jinxbea says:

    HI Karen… Love your skin color… think we have same skin tone… were both Filipinas that’s why…. do you mind if i ask your foundie shade in MAC or whhat foundie you use and what shade?


    jinxbea´s last blog post..Foodtrip – Rack’s Festival Mall

  41. kat says:

    Hey Karen! I’m Filipina, brown skin, and an NC45! I love my brown skin and I really didn’t get the skin whitening rage in the Philippines. Some girls in other parts of the world even go to tannning salons while girls back home want to whiten their skin! Oh well. I guess to each her own. =)

    Love your blog!

  42. Marisol says:

    Great post Karen. I am Mexican and in my culture, sadly people make the distinction between a lighter skin Mexican and darker skin Mexican. I am more olive toned while my sister has a darker skin tone. Thankfully, growing up neither one of us faced racism like others. We were lucky but most people who meet me now don’t realize I am Mexican because of my skin tone. For some reason they seem to think I am Hawaiian. But what it does is expose their ignorance. I have had comments made around me about Mexican people and when I get upset, I have actually had people say “why do you care?”. I tell them I care because I am mexican. They look at me like o_O! I get pleasure in making them uncomfortable with their ignorant comments. What I don’t get is even if I wasn’t Mexican I can still be insulted.

    Marisol´s last blog post..Happy Thanksgiving!

  43. Zoulikha says:

    Great post. Just the other day I was looking at your blog and thought that you have gorgeous skin colour. I’m very very pale and everyone keep saying to me that i need to use some fake tan. I do not like it. I don’t do tan and sun bathing! Love natural skin tones and think there is no need to whiten or darken it 🙂 Girls let’s be proud of that we got!

  44. bembet says:

    sad to say here in the philippines,the sale of whitening lotions,pills,soaps,etc.are selling like hot you i am dark-skinned but i am proud of it.everytime i visit a beauty counter or the supermarket where there is a new whitening product being offered by a promo girl,i bristle when they shove a papaya soap or a whitening whatever on me assuming i like the countless pinays want a paler,whiter skin.there is nothing wrong with our color!brown is beautiful!

  45. lindsay says:

    I know what you’re talking about. As you know, I live in Hawaii, and I’ve been in the sun since I was a little girl. During the winter months I don’t go to the beach as much due to rain, but even then, no matter how much my tan fades, I still have a little “color” in me (mainly body, not so much face). Anyway, my mom lives in Hong Kong, and I usually visit her in the summer, when I go to the beach every week. Well, the last time I went she just said, “You are just too dark, too dark,” but I don’t care, I like my color even if I wasn’t born with it. It makes me look healthy and active.

    I’m jealous of your dark skin!

  46. Nikki says:

    Hi Karen!

    Been reading your blog for a few months now and I didn’t know you’re Filipina like me. Great post and I love your skin color. Sad, but people still are fixated on a person’s skin color. My mom’s family are all on the fair side while my dad’s are on the darker side of brown. There are some instances that I wished I were fairer but as I grew older I have fully embraced my skin color. I still love to tan during summer but mostly worried about the sun’s effects rather than what it does to my skin color.

    Nikki´s last blog post..Eyeko Special

  47. Sarah says:

    I think every community has some messed up ideas about skin color. I am half arab, half (white) american. I’m about NC40-ish and somehow that means I fit into neither world.

    My mother’s father was medium tan, but my mother’s mom is super dark and “african” looking. She once told me that the first time she met her future sisters in law they told my grandfather that he “could do better”. Meaning he should find someone lighter than he was. My mom is on the darker side and it was considered some sort of accomplishment to have married a much lighter man. As a result, I’m the lightest person on that side of the family by far.

    My relatives have always complimented my mom on producing a lighter child. They would comment on my eyes (drk brown instead of black) my hair (drk brown instead of black and with looser curls) and most of all my skin. As I got older all I heard was that men were going to be lining up for me b/c of my light skin. In fact two summers ago I went to a party with my cousin and started talking to a guy until he asked if I was “even whiter under my clothes”. Nothing else seems to matter.

    Nothing else seems to matter on my dad’s side of the family either. They have some Cherokee heritage but most of them are very pale with light eyes (including my father) and my grandmother always recounted how happy she was that she could pass for white and how it made her life so much easier. When my parents got divorced and I would spend the holidays with my dad’s family looking at the pictures is like playing that game “One of these things is not like the others”. My aunts kept asking my dad “why is her hair like that?” -by which they meant curly and big- and demanding that I go brush my hair to fix it.

    Even though I still feel a little lost about my racial identity (not really white, not really arab either) sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who doesn’t have a problem with my coloring. My (maternal) grandmother laments that I didn’t get my father’s colored eyes but I love my dark eyes. I feel like I can pull off any color of liner or shadow. I think I look better tan but only because my skin warms up. I am extremely olive-y and when I’m paler the green undertones really show. I’ve even learned to love my hair b/c even when it’s really big it looks like I meant for it to do that.

  48. Martha says:

    i hear ya karen, being asian myself. but i love the ocean too, and been meaning to say but always forgot: i lived in HI for 3 years when i was a kid 😀 so i got to love the ocean–and how could you not! so probably 2-3 shades darker than my usual fair self, and friends always lament fact that i’ve lost my ‘white’. geez.

  49. Jessie says:

    Ironically I never thought my brown skin was beautiful until I moved to Portland to attend a predominately white private college.

    Even still if I some magical being offered to make me lighter and especially make my hair some kind of straight, I couldn’t say for sure I would turn them down.

    I don’t even think I realized how bad it was. I look great in ivory, but I never wore light colors cause I thought they made me look black. Make up was even worse. Your average store never carried my color and I think as a child I internalized that. It was like people like me didn’t exist or weren’t worthy or marketing attention and products.

    Now I’m a MUFE Invisible Cover Foundation 180 and I’m really happy with that color most days. Seeing in a jar makes me appreciate how pretty it is. I’m not over the hair, years of Barbie and long shiny hair isn’t going away as quick as I would like it. I guess it is also a bitter point because other brown people can have straight hair, just not us, us as in African American.

  50. Jessie says:

    Oh and growing up in HS I had Filipino friends and classmates who hated going out in the sun in LA and I don’t think they knew how much their comments about not wanting to be browner hurt a friend who was brown all year.

  51. ema says:

    It isn’t just black people that experience this type of skin discrimination. As a pale skin person (very pale skin) I am constantly told I am too fair and need to get a tan. I can’t help my complexion and have no intention of sun-baking because my skin burns very easily and I have a family history of skin cancer. Fake tans don’t work for me because I only turn orange or an awful brown colour. When I went overseas last year to China, I discovered treatments in the supermarket to make skin pale. After discovering these products, I realised that everyone; dark or pale wants the skin colour they don’t have. So instead of covering my skin in a horrible orange colour or damaging my skin, I have decided to embrace my skin colour. If I look after my skin now, i will have lovely, healthy, beautiful skin when I am 40 and everyone will want my skin than when it looks young and isn’t aged by sun damage. Also in looking after my skin now by staying out of the sun, covering up and applying sunscreen rather than tanning, I will hopefully prevent the possiblity of skin cancer continuing in my family history.

  52. ivy says:

    Thank you so much for writing about this as some one who is tri-racial (1/2 white, 1/4 black, 1/4 asian) I feel like i’ve heard it all. “geez your dark for someone who is half white, shouldn’t you be lighter” “you don’t look asian enough to be considered asian” etc. It’s nice to hear people speaking out about just being comfortable with however they look, and knowing there are all shades and all of them are beautiful.

  53. Angu says:

    This is really a great post. i feel horrible for that child. its not fair for kids to be ridiculed because of the color of their skin.
    im pakistani, and i can relate.
    im not dark, actually i have indian friends who tell me im extremely light for “a brown kid” (because they are a lot darker than me) but in my family, im one of the darker ones. i hate how with our culture at times it practically doesnt matter if you are more beautiful (of course everyone is beautiful in their own way), its a bigger deal how fair you are, and the fairer, the merrier. not cool.

    but yeah, i love this post.
    i need some help with makeup tips and such, i actually cant wear makeup (not allowed) until i am 16 (couple months yet!) but, i have practiced a bit with friends and stuff…and i suck at applying eyeliner. and i also wonder what shades of eyeshadow would be good for me? im brown, but extremely dark, but im medium brown (not light brown)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angu,

      It’s nice to meet you. You are 15! I remember being that age (even though it was a loooooong time ago). You might want to start off with a few basics. Do you have a MAC counter in your town?

  54. Michele says:

    I still feel the same way!
    My best to you Karen!

  55. Kat says:

    This post totally got to me. I’m filipino and the part where you comment on how aunties ALWAYS called for the kids to get inside before we got dark. I’m a medium color. However, in high school i played tennis. During tennis practices, we would play during the hottest time of the day around 12-1pm. And living in Texas, it gets HOTT. All of high school i was Darker than dark could be! My mom and my aunties would always comment on how dark i was. My mom even bought me skin lightening soap. I just never felt pretty in high school because of my dark skin. If only had read this post during high school! Your story has really gotten to me! So proud of you! BROWN IS THE SHIZZ!

  56. Monisha says:

    I grew up in Singapore and people then had the concept of fair being more beautiful, but I did not really care. I did as a child but as I hit my teens, I cared less. My skin colour is the one I was born with. I am honey coloured more or less. I love it. I love having a natural born tan. I have been told that because I am tanned (did I mention I love it?)Any colour would look good on me. How liberating that is! Now I don’t have to worry about my choice of colour when it comes to my clothes. One of my fairer skinned cousins told me when she saw me wearing a black skirt which set off my tan, that I was lucky to be born this way.

    My children have blue eyes coming from my ex. My oldest has the dark skin to go along with it. My youngest daughter is white skinned with blue eyes too and she has my Asian features.

    So I have to say dark skin, light kin, all are beautiful.

  57. Ed says:

    Hi Karen,

    I stumbled on your blog by word search. I’m also filipino but male and still much darker then you (based on your pic). I pretty much grew up in Canada where one would expect to experience prejudice from caucasion but for me, I have felt it more from my own kind even my own family.

    My dad who is light-skinned use to give me baths as a child and rub my skin so hard sometimes it hurt. I guess he thought he could wash my darkness away, I love him anyway. I’ve dated filipino girls who’s parent’s didn’t want me being with their daughter for fear of having dark grandchildren. In one year when summer weather was around the corner, my than gf asked me point blank, “Does this mean your going to get even darker?” It came to a point where I felt inferior to my more pale pinoy friends. So yes I was affected psychologically for a while and became ashamed of who I was. I’ve since outgrown this and worked on my personality to be with people who like me for who I am and not the shade of my skin.

    Thanks for your blog. I enjoyed reading it and relating to it. Take care.

  58. Kristina says:

    HI Karen,

    My background is from the caribbean and we share these same issues; the post-colonialism mentality affects so many cultures. It seems as though the whole world silently adopted the euro-centric standard of beauty whether realized or not, but sadly it is still actualized.

    I truly brush off this viewpoint in my life. Whilst on holiday I slather on the Hawaiian Tropic and I really could care less how much darker I become, in fact I think I look better with a darker tan.

    Loving oneself is unconditional, I don’t make skin tone and race interfere with that, regardless of my heritage.

  59. Jess says:

    Hi Karen!

    After reading your article, I just really wanted to tell you that I appreciate you opening up this topic with all your readers! Though I usually try to be politically correct, it’s nice (and refreshing) to be able to read a piece of writing as frank as yours. I’m Chinese and I’ve also had somewhat similar experiences growing up. It’s kind of haunted me to the point where I’ve stopped using black vinegar and carefully monitor my soy sauce in take. Even though I’ve now embraced the fact that I’m not fair skinned and have come to love my tanned complexion, I still can’t seem to shake those old habits of avoiding vinegar and soy sauce. So, thanks for sharing your story and for encouraging everyone to love the skin they’re in! I’m loving your blog more and more and I look forward to seeing more of these touching posts in the future! Keep up the great work, Karen! All the best!

    ~ Jess

  60. Leah says:

    Hi Karen,

    I appreciate your honesty and common sense. I have fair skin and I’ve always thought that every skin color is unique and adds to the beauty of an individual! 🙂
    I also think this unfortunate “darker is bad” mentality can be found in ALL cultures. I’ve had experience in a similar circumstance: two of my cousins are half Turkish as my aunt’s husband is from Turkey. The elder boy has a lighter complexion along with sandy blonde hair and turquoise blue eyes. The younger boy is darker with dark eyes. Growing up, their dad (who is dark himself) seemed to always favor his oldest son with comments like “your skin is light like your mother’s” or “you are unique”….my aunt would get so mad, as she loves both her sons equally.

  61. Candi says:

    HI Karen, I’ve been reading your blog for only about a week now, but I never knew your ethnicity.

    Today, I was bored so I googled Filipino NC45, because that’s what I am, and came across your blog about this.

    Thank you for posting this blog, it makes me feel better about being a darker skinned filipino.

  62. Donna Vitan says:

    I love my brown colour. I hope that more and more, people will be more accepting and happy with the skin they’re in.
    .-= Donna Vitan’s last blog post… LUCYD ACYD Illicit Bandage Leggings =-.

  63. Emily says:

    People always think I’m sick because I’m so pale.
    It’s so hard to find a foundation that makes a color light enough.

  64. LIsa says:

    The reason why the entire world is full of dark people wanting to be lighter is simple. European Imperialism. They beat down the natives and made themselves superior. There was mixing with the natives and by then the systematic racism and degradation was already firmly established! Nobody wanted to be a part of the degraded groups so they aspired to make their children lighter and their grandchildren etc. Of course we still see it to this day! The countries who were hit the hardest with European colonialism have the hardest time with “dark” skin. All of Latin America, some parts of Africa, India, Phillipines, and many other parts of Asia.
    I am half Black and half Korean and Asian people always say, Oh, you don’t LOOK Korean. The prejudice in those countries is rampant. I was studying Spanish in Guatemala several years ago and all my teachers were of Mayan descent- all various shades of brown. I remember relaxing in the sun and one of the teachers said to me, Oh, don’t sit in the sun! You’ll get dark! I sat up and smiled and said in my then good Spanish- But I AM dark and I am beautiful! I got smiles and claps from the darker skinned instructors. When I hear people say offensive things like this it always tugs at my heart because I know the years of degradation and discrimination a people went through to be this way today. It is just a sign of ignorance- a clinging to antiquated notions of survival and coping with generations of systematic racism. Remember, we all are BEAUTIFUL!

  65. Renjini says:

    Hi Karen!

    I’m so sorry to know you’ve faced a lot of prejudice because of your skin colour! 🙁

    I hate the fairness ads that pop up on the TV all the time. I have nothing against fair skinned people, but I hate how ads typecast the ‘dark’ girl as unsuccessful in her life, love and career, till she begins to use the miracle cream and gets fairer. Suddenly the love of her life notices her, she gets her dream job and her whole family is unreasonably proud of her! What complete rot, don’t you agree?

    Anyways, I’ve had to hear a lot of it myself – I’m a South Indian, and as dark as they come! I used to have a terrible complex when I was younger because my parents were both very fair. Initially though, my Mother was fairly dark, but a few years after marriage and following her pregnancy, she turned fair – I guess the propensity to turn fairer was always there with her as both her parents were extremely fair. This intensified the comments I used to get from some of my extended family. They would joke that I was adopted because there was no other way I could be this dark otherwise. Also, having grown up outside India, I used to have to put up with a barrage of ‘well-meant advice’ every vacation from my ‘fairer’ aunts and cousins who felt it was their duty to impart fairness tips.

    Now when I look back on it though, it seems silly as to how much I took their crap to heart, but when you’re 7, it seems like a great deal! Bu it used to annoy my parents severely and I’ve seen my Mother bite her tongue more than once to stop herself from committing the ultimate Indian faux pas – insulting someone senior to her. At least it proved to me that I had unbiased, loving and supportive parents who saw me, rather than a skin tone! 🙂

    Today, I’m a confident 23 year old woman and I love my skin tone! When people ask me if I wouldn’t want to be fair, I feel scornful of them. I feel blessed to know that I’m unique – I’m comfortable in my skin and I stand out simply because I refuse to give into the norm! But more importantly, my colour obsessed relatives gave me a gift they never knew – Growing up being told you’re second best because of how you look makes a person want to prove herself by using all her other faculties. I did. More importantly though, I’ve learnt to see other people for who they are – not their clothes and not their skin tones! I absolutely love having those blinds removed! 😀

    I don’t know if my daughter will inherit my skin tone. Perhaps she won’t because my man’s a lot fairer (I’ve had quite a bit of my extended family wonder how Mr. Fair, Tall and Handsome fell for Ms. Short, Dark and Stout! :P). But then I realize want I want her to truly inherit is my point of view. To be able to see herself, and those around her, as beautiful for being WHO they are, and not WHAT they look like. And I know she’ll learn it in the best way possible and not because others make her feel second best! 🙂

  66. This is totally identifiable with Indian women too. In India too the same prejudice exists towards darker skinned women. Bollywood films have always have had fair skinned women who hail from the North and North East Frontier. One of the best selling products in the consumer skin care marketplace are ‘fairness creams’ that claim to make you fairer within days and weeks! The company selling the creams realised that Indian men were also buying this cream in droves and soon promptly launched a fairness cream for men in the market. As a skin and anti aging clinic doctor from Mumbai, I always tell my patients to crave for smoother skin not fairer but you won’t believe the amount of women who walk into my clinic asking for non-surgical skin fairness procedures. Maybe 100 years from now there will be no nation states and the world will become one colour and people will look back at our times and have a good laugh! Dr. Sunita Banerji (

  67. marie says:

    dear karen,

    thank you for posting this. i am of mixed heritage and i’ve always wondered why in the world i wasn’t paler, why i didn’t have an “interesting” eye colour and why my hair wasn’t straighter.
    over the years i’ve felt frustrated that makeup didn’t tend to cater to my skintone but recently, thankfully, i feel that it’s getting easier.
    i’ve lived through something similar and i think that after reading this post, i’ll explain to my friends that stating the obvious (yo, you’re dark!) ain’t right.

    thanks again, karen.

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