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!