#MagandangMorenx: Celebrating Our Brown Skin

#MagandangMorenx: Celebrating Our Brown Skin

Screw Eurocentric beauty standards.
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Colorism-- when people with lighter skin are favored or treated better than people with darker skin-- is an issue in various ethnicities and cultures. For many cultures, colorism stems from Eurocentric beauty standards imposed on a minority by a European or White colonizer. The Philippines was colonized by Spain from 1521 to 1898, then by the United States from 1898 to 1946. One of the long-lasting effects of colonization is colorism, which is especially apparent in mainstream Filipino media. Many TV personalities are light skinned. There are advertisements for skin lightening creams. Dark skinned people in the media are often poor folk on the news or TV personalities made to be the butt of the jokes.

Since I am Black and Filipina, my skin is darker than my Filipino relatives' skin. In the summer, people often say to me, "Don't spend too much time outside. You don't want to get darker." Sometimes people tell me they were able to guess that I'm Black and Filipina because, according to them, I look Filipina but I'm too dark and my hair is too curly for me to be full Filipina. In college, white men* have told me that they would like me better or would consider dating me if my skin was lighter. If they're not criticizing the brownness of my skin, they try to compliment me by saying, "Your skin tone is better than other black girls'.** It's so... exotic." (Hint: this is not a compliment in the slightest.)

I'm definitely not the only person that's experienced this. In order to combat the colorism in the Filipinx community, Asia Jackson (@aasian), a Black and Filipina actress, model, and vlogger based in Los Angeles, created the hashtag #MagandangMorenx on Twitter. Moreno/a-- an 'x' is used in the hashtag to include everyone on the gender spectrum-- is a Tagalog word for people with dark, brown skin. "Magandang morenx" means "beautiful brown skin." As Jackson notes, it is not uncommon for Filipinx people to have naturally brown skin because the Philippines is located in a tropical region of the southeast Pacific. Rather than encouraging people to adhere to the Eurocentric beauty standards that praise light skin, Jackson created #MagandangMorenx to "empower, reclaim, and redefine what it means to be a Filipino and to celebrate our diversity of color."

["@xdelaaa: Slowly had to learn that I' didn't need fair skin to feel pretty. #MagandangMorenx"]

["@eb0nyy: because brown skin and curly hair doesn't make me any less of a filipina #Magandang Morenx #Cebu]

["@josephilos: I can't imagine myself without brown skin but I do know how to work it with all types of different hairstyles #MagandangMorenx]

["@aclbso: it took a long while for me to love myself, and i'm honestly still working on it, but i'm getting there; truuuust #MagandangMorenx"]

#MagandangMorenx is a beautiful hashtag full of people with a wide range of skin tones. There isn't much representation of dark skinned Filipinx people in the media, and this hashtag shows just a glimpse of the diversity in the Filipinx community. It challenges the Eurocentric beauty standards imposed on Filipinx people and many other ethnicities as well. Like many others, I'm still learning to love my skin but I'm proud of every bit of melanin.


*Note: I have only experienced this with white men. Please don't comment "It's not just white men!" or "Women do it too!" or anything of that sort. In this sentence, I'm writing about my own personal experience.

**Look for a future article I'm going to write about how I've dealt with fetishization, both Filipino and Black beauty standards, and the conflict I feel as a person of mixed race!

Cover Image Credit: Dominique Reliford

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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'Sissy, Why is That Boy Wearing Makeup?'

June is time to celebrate equality.

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This past weekend, I went to the mall with my family. It was just a normal family excursion, and I wanted to walk into Sephora to show my mom a perfume I liked. We go inside, and my mother and I drift away from my dad and 6 year old sister, Sierra. I showed her the perfume I thought smelled amazing (Roses de Chloé) and we look for my sister and father to exit the store. As soon as we leave, my little sister grabs my hand and asks, "Sissy, why is that boy wearing makeup?"

This was the first time my little sister has ever asked about anything like this, and I wanted to make sure I gave her an answer. I turned to her and said, "Sierra, sometimes there are boys who wear makeup, and girls who may dress like boys. People are allowed to wear what they want, it doesn't matter." Sierra looks up at me, says, "Oh okay," and that was the end of it.

Sharing this experience to say, HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!

So thankful to live in a country where all sexual orientations get a day to celebrate their love. That's what this world needs more of-- love. It shouldn't matter who it is, where they are from, the color on their skin, or their gender identity.

When Sierra was born, I always wondered when this conversation would come up. I wondered what I would say, how she would react to it, and how she would be exposed to it. Like I consistently preach, everything happens for a reason, and I'm glad Sierra was able to get exposure and receive an immediate answer. Love is love, and I will forever stand by that.

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