Colorism In South Korea

Colorism In South Korea

"You look paler" is not a harmless statement.
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Beauty standards differ around the world. Some countries may think blonde hair is prettier or that black hair is more attractive. Others may think that being tall is a virtue while others value shortness. But where do we draw the line between "beauty standards" and colorism?

What is colorism? And why is it so bad?

According to Colorism Healing, colorism is a set of "prejudiced attitudes and/or discriminatory acts against people based on the color (shade or tone) of their skin." With this definition alone, it's safe to say that most of South Korea (and other Asian countries) practice colorism. "You look paler," or "You're so dark," are not harmless, mundane phrases nor are they compliments or random comments. Those phrases hurt people emotionally and narrow our perception. It lends the idea that lighter skin is more than just preferred, it's "superior."

One of the more "well-known" cases of colorism comments in the K-pop industry comes from the popular boy group EXO. During a Taipei concert, Tumblr user Mikael Owunna witnessed former EXO member Tao introduce the members. When Tao got to Kai, a member that is known for his "darker" skin, Tao said: “He’s darker than me, isn’t he?” In reply, the audience laughed and agreed with Tao.

For reference, Kai looks like this:

So while his skin might not be the lightest in South Korea, he is by no means "dark" as people claim him to be. With just one seemingly harmless sentence, his entire value had been reduced into one thing: skin color. Tao used the societal values that lightness equates to beauty to claim that he has more value over Kai and is therefore superior

Mikael goes on to say that while working in Taiwan, he was told to stop drinking coffee because it would "make him blacker" and that his first-grade students wiped their hands on his skin to see if "the black" would come off if they rubbed it.

Unfortunately, the repercussions of colorism don't just stop at hurt feelings. Skin bleaching is a 10 billion dollar industry, and according to the World Health Organization, upwards of 77 percent of women in Nigeria bleach their skin, while 40 percent of women in China, Malaysia, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea have admitted to using lightening products. People feel "worth" with lighter skin and associate white skin with power, beauty and privilege. The lighter they are, the closer they are to value. And that's how white supremacy works. That's why colorism is a form of internalized racism.

When we belittle someone for their dark skin, we make it seem as if their dark skin is adequate enough, not beautiful. We make dark skin to be something dirty, something undesirable. Many Asian countries spend millions on advertising skin lightening creams and whitening products and while yes, it's true, that certain "lightening" products can mean to fade dark sun or acne spots, this is not always the case.

Sarah L. Webb from Colorism Healing shared, "After centuries of being conditioned to view white/European as superior and their own race and culture as inferior, many people were broken and eventually believed in and acted according to that dichotomy. It’s under those conditions that people of varying races came to view European ancestry and European phenotypes as superior to all else and as a means to a better life."

Or, in some cases, lighter skin meant that you did not have to toil long hours in the sun as a slave and that you were a noble, superior to those that slaved away.

Whatever the case is, colorism is harmful and only fuels the notion that "lighter skinned Asians" (or lighter skinned people in general) are better than their darker skinned counterparts. Colorism causes a person of darker skin to think this: if everyone is telling me that my skin color is wrong, then I must be the problem. What's to stop them from thinking that they need to bleach their skin to become better? Colorism is so incredibly damaging and in an industry as fixated on looks as the Korean entertainment industry, their "shortcomings" are only magnified and the comments deemed as "harmless."

As always, cultural context should always be kept in mind, but colorism is a system of internalized racism that contributes to external racism. It's something that causes people to loathe themselves for who they are — for something they cannot change. It causes people to believe that they are the problem when in reality, it's the world that needs to correct the ways it thinks and acts.

You never thought a statement like "You look paler," could be so loaded with centuries of oppression, humiliation and racism, right?

Cover Image Credit: Good Housekeeping

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Double Standards Are Plaguing Our Society

What and how are double standards hurting our society?
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Why is that when a female has many sexual partners she is considered a slut, but when a male does it he is celebrated as a king? Why is it when a male wears makeup or paints his nails his shunned by the world, but when a girl does it she looks bomb? How can the pope support ending the gender gap, but refuse to allow women to hold spiritual leadership roles? It’s because we live in a world filled with double standards.

What is a double standard? Merriam-Webster states it’s “a rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.” We see in our society that there are many double standards between races, religions, sexualities, and genders.

Many double standards are hurting our country and even our world. Many people are blind to the double standards that plague our community especially if isn’t affecting them, while some just accept these as okay in our society, but they aren't okay. Here a few double standards that are seen in today's society.

Gender.

  • Women are paid less than men for doing the same exact job.
  • If a man cries he is considered weak, while it’s alright for a woman to do so.
  • When a male is sexually harassed by a woman he is lucky, while it happens to women it’s considered rape (I’m not denouncing rape that happens to women)
  • If a woman asserts any kind of dominance she’s a bitch, but if a guy does it he’s a leader.

Religion.

  • If someone of Muslim faith kills someone the headlines are “Muslim Terrorist Strikes Again!”, but they never announce if the killer was a Christian. They say he was a “lone wolf”
  • If a Christian teacher tried to make the class pray it would be okay, and millions would support them, but if a Muslim teacher tried that the world would go crazy.
  • the KKK (who are “Christians”) is okay, they can recruit through their website which isn’t blocked in any way and even endorsed our current president

Race.

  • If a black person does anything they seem suspicious, but when white people do it, it’s okay.
  • When NFL teams win big games their fans destroy cities, but if any peaceful protest happens it’s a riot and police decide to throw tear gas.
  • If a white person uses weed their considered a stoner, but if a black person does it they’re a criminal.

Sexuality.

  • if a straight couple does anything it’s normal. If a gay couple does it, it’s an abomination.
  • Straight couples can mistreat their own kids and it be okay, but if a gay couple wants to adopt a kid all hell breaks loose.

Weight.

  • If some bigger over eats their considered fat, and unhealthy, but if a thinner person over eats no one says a word.

Of course, there are so many other double standards that affect other groups of people, but just having these few is too many. We have to do something about this! If we allow one group of people to do something we must allow all other groups to do so as well. This must change to allow everyone to feel equal if we claim to be an equal opportunity country.

It isn't impossible to change these double standards as we have seen double standards in the past be changed. such as a male could be a doctor, but a women couldn't. Or even a white person holding a higher position in work and black person couldn't. Therefore, we see a change can happen, but only if we choose to make it happen.

Cover Image Credit: Ashley8053

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