In America, having pale, white skin is often seen as something rather undesirable. This creates a culture lusting after skin dark and tanned. Despite being a predominately white country, the United States many other western cultures all find the darker skinned look extremely attractive, alluding to sports and activity. People even going to professional tanning salons or just spending hours out in the burning sun; this desire is almost illogical.
The vanity behind wanting a particular color of skin in America is incredibly real, with people risking melanoma and skin cancer in their infatuation with the tan. This craze has been going wild for a while now and shows no signs of slowing down. It is so much an icon it’s easy to forget about other cultures and their equivalents.
Why does this trend exist in America?
It’s a rather weird and odd obsession, but almost understandable from looking at our pop culture and productions from places like Hollywood and other films and tv shows. After all, we all want to be like our celebrity icons, with the perfect lives. In the United States, models and actors and most all celebrities are shown as having tan skin. It’s a sign that you go outside a lot, like to have fun, and generally, is seen as more attractive than pale skin by a significant number of people.
This trend is in sharp contrast to China, with a much different approach. While American compulsion drifts towards the tan, Chinese people have a similar addiction with the opposite; pale and white skin.
The difference in origins
However, unlike the American obsession of tanning stemming from their celebrity culture, Chinese desires stem from a much more cultural heritage. The Chinese fixation on how to get white skin comes from old standards of beauty, ingrained in in Chinese culture for many years. In Chinese culture, the color of someone’s skin is used as a way to determine that person’s character or class and has been for many years.
China is also, notably mono-racial, with having little to no differentiation between the various races. This is another reason why white skin is so desirable in China; because it’s different. By just showing even slight variation it gives them a higher status, as someone who can afford skincare and medication.
What does this signify in China?
The color of someone’s skin in China is a sign of where that person is from and what sort of life they lead. It’s drastically different from what Americans and most other cultures are used to, but it is an important insight into Chinese culture and traditions.
Is it bad?
Many of the poorer workers in China, near the south are notably darker than their richer urban counterparts. However, still in China, there is little racism regarding skin color, with darker skinned Chinese receiving just as much opportunity. So, it isn’t bad, being a result from monetary class, among others things, rather than leading to class subjugation.
Why it’s important
The complexities of different cultures are a marvel to observe; watching a country juxtaposed to our own can be very confronting yet eye-opening. Skin color between western nations and Asian countries like China is one of the biggest variations in their societies. Learning these differences can be a big task, but it’s important when understanding the intricacies of our two very different cultures.