Recently I came across a Facebook post about the tense relationship between a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law. Conflict emerged when the mother-in-law criticising her newborn grandchild’s dark skin that’s probably inherited from her daughter-in-law.
Then, when I scrolled through my Instagram News’ Feed yesterday, an 18 years old girl with dark skin tone shared her experience of being mocked by Malay boys because of her skin color.
Not just that, she still receives such comments up until now which I don’t find it unusual at all.
Here’s the thing, I’m not at all fortunate looking, unquestionably not lucked out in the look department because of my skin color. I’ve never been a fair-skinned girl, Malay boys don’t find me attractive. But let’s be perfect honest, that’s not an excuse for the Malay boys to demean one’s skin colour.
Born with a tanned skin tone is conventional in Malaysia, but in our Malay society, I’m normally stereotyped as the girl with a very dark skin tone who’s no one would marry me when I grow up.
Well, let me ask you a question, ‘Does marriage determine a girl’s beauty?’
“Islam teaches us that the standard of beauty is not what colour one’s skin is, but rather, one’s piety, one’s good actions and one’s conduct towards others. A white person has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white, except by piety and the fear of Allah (Taqwa).” – Quote from Mufti Muhammad Bin Adam al-Kawthari.
This skin colour humililation need to STOP NOW.
When I was in primary school and high school, my skin got too dark even though to the minor sun exposure. Unlike some of my fair-skinned friends, they just turned red and if they were lucky enough, either the sunburned skin peeled off or faded easily.
That led to the remarkable incident from when I was 15 years old. A best friend of mine who’s a fair-skinned girl made fun of my dark skin tone.
One day, she took a white liquid paper and drew a line on my hand, she then asked me what was the difference. To be frank, I didn’t notice anything.
Therefore, she drew the similar line on her hand. She asked the same question and still, I replied with the same answer, because I noticed nothing. Consequently, she revealed that, I couldn’t barely see the difference on her hand because of how ‘fair’ she is, while; the white line on my hand appeared very noticeable. Then she began to laugh.
I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel? Upset? The only thing I knew was later when I was home, I cried. That was one of the buckets of the similar experience. It wasn’t that humiliated as compared to the others, yet how was I supposed to move on from that point?
Because it was one of the reasons why sometimes I’m not comfortable receiving compliments, or why I had a very poor self-esteem. To some extent; I used to believe no matter how many times I tried to beautify myself, I would ever be the ugly duckling among my circle of friends and family.
Actually, come to think of it, I never really erased about anything that has to do with the skin colour mockery. I can recall every bits and pieces of the other degrading moments:
- My sister & my brother: Who’s on earth would marry our little sister? Look at how dark she is.
- My male friend: The bollywood themed really suits you, you have ‘such’ skin.
- My male best friend: How can you said you and your cousin could be sisters while you have darker skin. It followed by his giggles.
- My male best friend: Na, you’re ‘whiter’ than X, really, trust me. And he laughed at me. (X is way fairer than me so if you don’t get it, he was being sarcastic)
I’d no idea what were their intention, what had gotten into my mind was, those were the indirect insults they had never considered or realised. Conversely, I couldn’t help but seeing the good qualities in them. Thus I tried my best to not take it too personally.
However, when it comes to the said humiliations, I’m still highly sensitive, as always. Just so you know, I often look back at the moments and ponder was It always jokes for some of you? Was it because you thought we’re too close and sharing the same ‘sense of humor’ might make us closer?
It could break a relationship, we never know. Few topics should be off-limit for jokes!
Forcing on genuine laugh was no doubt my forte, since If I voiced out how I felt, the answer would be the same, ‘Ala Nana ni, nak melawak/ gurau pun tak boleh‘, and it ended up with me being overly sensitive or I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough.
No wonder some Malaysian girls go all out bleaching their skin to the point that, they’re now thousand times fairer than European – they are concerned about how others look at them, banishing their insecurity might be the best option.
Alhamdulillah, never in million years a thought of skin whitening crosses my mind. No matter how offended or sad I felt before, I wouldn’t want to change a thing on my body including plucking my eyebrow.
Because I want to be me, period. It would feel peculiar to be someone else, I always love the idea of how unique each one of us.
Apparently I turned to be a thick skin person, in spite of being ridiculed so many times of my skin complexion. From the very first to the recent skincare set that I bought, they’re the ones to clean my skin better, not to brighten my skin.
How I wish a lot of young girls out there do the same, to not give a damn. Trust me, I know it will never be easy. Because, skin-color shaming has not just been a source of jokes since years, it’s literally becoming a culture in Malaysia.
When I was in my teen years, the facial cleanser TV commercials were mostly about whitening the skin; ‘kulit cerah dan berseri dalam masa 2 minggu’.
Come on la, kalau gelap tak berseri ke?
Moreover, if you pay attention to the bride’s makeup trend from the late 1990s till now, the still ‘in’ trend; applying the quite lighter colour foundation on the tanned skin brides will remain here.
I’ve never been such a huge fan of this idea! I reckon, a makeup artist is supposedly enhancing the bride’s beauty instead of hiding it.
I adore some Malaysian celebrities like Ning Baizura, Dayang Nurfaizah and Nabila Huda. They embrace their beautiful skin color, it’s difficult for me to find them ‘looking so fair’. I love, love and love seeing Nabila and Ning’s wedding makeup, they still look like themselves under those layers of makeup.
Thank god! Lately, the natural makeup looks for the dark skin brides start to penetrate into the beauty trend in Malaysia.
On the other hand, I’m truly frustrated to see the inundated numbers of local skincare products which aim to lighten the skin color. And not to mention, some celebrities who’re the idols for the young girls, are noticably known for their changes from ‘berkulit sawo matang to putih melepak’.
In a way, TV advertisement, bride’s makeup trend, local skincare products, celebrities, and etc. do imply that, to be accepted in a so-called beautiful circle, ones must have a fair skin.
And eventually sending out the message that it’s not a big deal mocking those dark-skinned girls, because they aren’t supposed to be darker, they are supposed to be fairer instead.
Most people would question why some of the girls out there took much longer time editing their selfie prior uploading into the social media. Perhaps they choose the beauty filter to brighten their face, I’m guessing. But truthfully? that’s basically what society desires to see.
I’m not knowledgeable when it comes to fatwa or hadith, been reading a wide array of reading materials do provide me better insights concerning several matters. Here you go, hope this does help you understand better:
Using face-lightening creams does not entail mutilation (muthla) or altering Allah’s creation (taghyir khalq Allah) since there is no specific operation to be undergone with a view to change the colour of the skin forever. As such, using such creams is not unlawful.
However, it is a kind of excessive beautification which is not warranted in Islam. Allah Most High has created each human being with a beauty that best suits him/her, and as slaves of Allah, we should be content and happy with what Allah has created us with.
Indeed, Islam allows us, in genuine cases of need, to bring back to normality areas of the body that are deformed or damaged, but is having a dark skin really a form of abnormality?
As such, even though using a cream that lightens one’s skin colour can not be deemed unlawful per se, it is nevertheless going against the spirit of the teachings of Allah Most High and His beloved Messenger (Allah bless him & hive him peace).
Can we just be proud of the way we’re created by Allah s.w.t?
Until when you’ll keep on degrading one’s skin colour? Would you stop if I start calling you by the specific insecurities of your body parts? ‘Jongangnye kau/ Busuk la ketiak kau/ Kau makin gemok lah sekarang/’
No worries, I won’t humiliate myself by being mean towards others and indirectly degrade myself to your level. I won’t be a psychological bully like you.