Cultural Corner, EroBloPoMo - 30 Days of Culture

Fair White Skin – East Asian Beauty Standard

Have you ever wondered why many of us are so pale? In East Asia, they tend to be even more pale than me. I’m Japanese and I have fair white skin.

Fair White Skin – The Myth

Many times, western culture likes to think they’re number one. It must be their great influence that led to East Asians wanting fair white skin. The media seems to think that we want to look European. But this is untrue. Asians have desired fair white skin long before any western influence.

Why Asians Like Fair White Skin

This particular beauty standard is one that has carried over for many generations. In East Asia, skin color was thought to be indicative of ones social class. If you had a dark complexion, you were looked down upon because it was associated with being a field worker.

There was even discrimination toward certain Japanese people for this reason. On the south end of Japan, there is Okinawa. The people of Okinawa tend to be a lot darker than those of mainland Japan. Okinawans were looked down upon because of their skin color. Mainland Japan would say that Okinawans were crude or had no class.

Up until the Heian Period, skin whitening products in Japan were only seen amongst the upper class. It was something that only women from noble families could obtain. During this time, women’s faces were basically painted white as they used the same white powder that geishas used

In more modern times, Japanese women have veered away from the astonishingly white face. However, they still develop whitening products to keep their complexion pale.

Where Do I Fit In

In the US, I am considered pale, but in Japan, I’m fairly dark. My skin is more golden than pale white, but I’m still fair skinned. Here, most people like to get sun so they can take. But, in Japan, most people cover up to prevent being exposed to too much sun.

I don’t buy into the whole skin whitening thing. It’s a bit too extreme and it’s dangerous. I’m perfectly fine with my skin tone. I don’t tan, but I’m not extremely pale like many in East Asia.

This beauty standard is an unrealistic one and I feel as though, it enforces discrimination and racism. I think beautiful comes in all skin tones. The definition of beauty is not fair white skin. Therefore, we should stop glamorizing it and just see that it is what it is…skin and nothing more.

sass c.

Image from Unsplash


sass c.

i'm just your average girl with a dirty mind. young, asian and submissive...does that pique your interest? constantly in a battle with myself whether to stay confined by my cultural values or to break free like the freak i am.

Instagram: @thesassysubdaily
Twitter: @sassysubdaily

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  1. I so very much agree with that last paragraph. Skin is just skin and we should all accept each other and ourselves for who we are, and not desire to be like someone else. Great post, Sass, and I like the bit of history that comes with it 🙂
    ~ Marie

  2. howie1320 says:

    I wonder why europeans went the other way? They powdered their faces for the same reason but somewhere it became a sign of being healthy and strong to have a tan like the workers.

  3. All skin is beautiful and variety is the spice of life. I always enjoy reading your posts about tradition.

  4. When I visited Japan, we came across a Geisha in the alleyway. Her made up face was beautiful, but that doll-like quality of the white makeup almost made her seem less human. When we take away the color that makes us “us”, we drain the rainbow that we all could be.

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