By Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor
In 2006, I wrote the poem “The Politics of Beauty” in response to a Filipino friend’s lament that her young daughter had been told she was lucky because of her light skin and hair. As a mother of Euro-Filipino children, I too was horrified that someone, even in a well-meaning way, would teach a child such a racist viewpoint. As the poem developed, however, I began to realize that the poem was really for all women of color, especially Pinays, who still believed that their bodies—short, dark, flat-nosed, slanted-eyed—marked them as less desirable, less intelligent.
Time and again, I have heard the stories of Pinays having their eyelids altered so they would appear more round-eyed. Skin-lightening creams are popular both in the US and in the Philippines. As a child, I was told never to play in the sun so my skin wouldn’t darken any further. In…
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