A racist is someone who believes in racism, the doctrine that a particular human race is superior to another or all others. Are Filipinos racists? Generally speaking, yes. Most Filipinos are even racist to their own kind in the way they consider people with fair or white skin and those with straight noses superior to those with brown skin and flat noses. This is evident in the number of Caucasian-looking men and women who succeed in show business and in the modeling industry.
If you don’t believe my claim, just ask the advertising agency behind the controversial advertisement of clothing line BAYO. Or, you could even ask the owners of BAYO themselves because the said ad wouldn’t even make it to print without their seal of approval. Although the company’s latest ad was immediately toned down, it still received a backlash from Netizens because the campaign sent “mixed” messages to the public. If you ask me, their message was pretty clear. Here’s an excerpt of the copy from the said advertising campaign:
This is just all about MIXING and MATCHING. Nationalities, moods, personalities and of course your fashion pieces. Call it biased, but the mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class. We always have that fighting chance to make it in the world arena of almost all aspects. Be it Fashion, Music, Science and Sports. Having Filipino lineage is definitely something to be proud of.
One can be forgiven for thinking that whoever wrote that ad must have been smoking something illegal. And since BAYO executives approved it, they must have inhaled that smoke too. It has to be one of the lamest ads I’ve ever read. No wonder it had to be pulled out for being a flop. It ranks right up there with the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. That one also went up in smoke.
So according to BAYO, having Filipino lineage is “something to be proud of”, but that the “mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class.” Their statement is just a subtle way of saying that if you are 100 percent Indio, you are not beautiful and definitely not world class. Worst of all, you won’t have “that fighting chance of making it in the world arena of almost all aspects. Be it Fashion, Music, Science and Sports.”
Their fashion statement only makes sense to those who buy into skin whitening products. And that’s probably a big percentage of the Philippine population. To quote the Marie Claire article “Who’s afraid of Kayumanggi?”
“Most Pinays unboudtedly still want to be fair. A 2004 Synovate study showed that 50% of Filipinas used a skin-lightening product. Today, whitening products control over half of the local skincare market. Even Isabel Daza, the 22-year-old daugher of trailblazing morena beauty Gloria Diaz endorses a whitening product.”
It’s bad enough that a big percentage of Filipinos have an image problem, BAYO’s ad had to emphasize that looking like an Indio is akin to being a kulelat.
Could it be that BAYO was trying to promote the idea that we Filipinos should mix our genes with those they consider to possess superior genetics so as to improve our lot? It would seem so if you go by their statement it “is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class”. Or could it be that BAYO was just stating reality? Most Filipinos do tend to idolize the mestizas and mestizos in Philippine society and also treat them better compared to their negrito counterparts. Let’s face it, in our society fair-skinned people get treated like gods and goddesses. It doesn’t help that most advertising agencies almost always use white-skinned instead of brown-skinned beauties in their advertising campaigns.
To be fair, the phenomenon is not unique to Filipinos. A study by a Harvard professor also highlighted how “most Americans prefer lighter to darker skin aesthetically, normatively, and culturally”. To quote:
Film-makers, novelists, advertisers, modeling agencies, matchmaking websites – all demonstrate the power of a fair complexion, along with straight hair and Eurocentric facial features, to appeal to Americans.2 Complexion and appearance are also related to how voters evaluate candidates and who wins elections.
Unfortunately, the study also showed that “racial minorities with dark skin in the United States have been disproportionately disadvantaged for centuries.”
In September 2005, a CNN news anchor remarked that the most devastated victims of Hurricane Katrina “are so poor and they are so Black” (Blitzer 2005). He presumably was referring to the fact that most displaced people were African American residents of New Orleans. But behind his comment was a physical fact about the people appearing on television sets across the country; those left behind were the darkest as well as the poorest of their race. Commentators have spoken endlessly of their poverty–but beyond this comment, not at all of their complexion.
Blitzer’s remarks were prescient; as the first epigraph suggests, racial minorities with dark skin in the United States have been disproportionately disadvantaged for centuries. Relative to their lighter-skinned counterparts, dark-skinned Blacks have lower levels of education, income, and job status; they are less likely to own homes or to marry; and dark-skinned blacks’ prison sentences are longer. Dark-skin discrimination occurs within as well as across races. Some evidence suggests, in fact, that intra-racial disparities are as detrimental to a person’s life chances as are disparities traditionally associated with racial divisions.
Apparently, preference for fair skin is universal. It doesn’t matter that white-skinned people invented tanning machines; there is still this underlying notion that people with whiter skin are better even if it’s only a perception. And that perception can be changed as soon as advertising agencies for companies like BAYO put less emphasis on this narrow-minded preference.
[BAYO has since issued an apology for any offense the ad had caused.]