embracing my color


Why am I alone?

I’ve been leisurely looking for months for a makeup foundation with some coverage for the rare occasion I’d like my age spots to not pop out so much.  The only makeup base I have, which I’ve only used half of and purchased about four years ago (or longer) is by Almay – which is too wonderful to talk about – it lets your own skin show through and just evens out tone and is totally natural looking and feeling.  BUT it doesn’t cover the spots.  Problem is, here in Korea, everything is WHITE WHITE WHITE.

This time, I took my Almay with me hoping I could match something.  WRONG.  I went to every counter, and there was not one foundation that dark.  I had several salespeople try to talk me into something lighter.  They really wanted me to go lighter than my natural color!  “down, down, down” they kept saying.  “no!  I LIKE DARK.  I AM dark!”  I would say back to them.  The truth is, I’m only slightly darker than average.  But you wouldn’t know it by looking at people’s faces or by looking at the makeup counters.  If you did that, you’d think I belonged to some other race.  To which one saleslady said, “uri nara lightening.”  (Uri Nara means our country, btw)  Finally out of frustration I purchased the darkest color available at all of the counters in Korea.  She tried to push eight vials of face lightening serum on me as a trial gift, and then I told her I didn’t want it, but she gave me a vial of candy pink lipgloss that attaches to your cell-phone as a complimentary gift.  Candy pink!  I mean, that only goes with WHITE skin, not tan skin…I took my purchase home, put it on, and was a slightly lighter ashen color.  Fortunately, I had some Neutrogena mineral face powder I had bought before leaving the states which was too dark.  The combination of the too light liquid and the too dark powder kind of resembles my natural color. The spots are covered, but really I’ll only wear this stuff for photos and special occassions.

I find it really amazing that an Asian can’t find any makeup colors that are natural asian colors to match her skin tone!  It is SOOOO creepy to see all the women here with tons of makeup on, and their faces are several shades lighter than their necks and arms!  It’s not only lighter, but it has an unholy luminance to it.  Like a shimmering dead person, devoid of all warmth.

This has been a weird week for me – from former Presidents committing suicide out of shame, to finding out women in Confuscian society used to abandon their babies to die of exposure, to realizing my Asian skin color is unacceptable here in Asia.  None of it makes any sense to me.

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6 thoughts on “embracing my color

  1. I love being black in Korea! i have this sun addiction though so i take every chance i get to sit or stand in the sun. for instance at bus stops, the koreans are always crowding under the shelter or in the shade, and black me is by myself standing in the sun. it cracks me up! i probably have/will have skin cancer soon but oh well. i showed a picture of me at the beach with my family to my teachers class and i think they were revolted about how black i can get. im glad i couldnt understand their comments…

  2. You should go to the country, Willie! Most everyone there is my color or darker. It’s really refreshing.

    It’s so weird because we grew up in a country of sun worshipers who always envied my ability to get a tan with no effort. And whoa, I can get REALLY REALLY dark. Like east Indian dark.

    I think being dark and Korean is awesome. Maybe we should start a black is beautiful club!

  3. I found your observation in the second-to-last paragraph to be quite apt at describing how women use make-up to an astonishing degree here. There have been several times when I’ve sat and watched women on the subway – women who look pretty enough ‘on their own’ – apply layer after layer of make-up to the point where they look more like a doll than an actual human being.

    A couple weeks ago I made a reference to this (and a couple of other things when it comes to women’s perception of beauty) on my Facebook profile as the reason why I’m still single in Korea. Can’t say there was much exaggeration, either!

  4. yeah, I can’t say I’d want to kiss anyone who puts on makeup with a spatula either.

    I don’t understand how unnatural is supposed to be better. Maybe I should spread some rumor about a link between whitening and swine flue…

  5. Back at my time, in the 1970s, women in Seoul were wearing sun unmbrella to stay white as possible, something that I couldn’t understand as child (and still don’t understand) when I came to America and saw the white people trying to be darker.

    When I went to my formar school in 2003, the guy translated my school report which says “She is lazy, not very good and has dark skin” as if dark skin needed to be metionned in a school report.

    At first, I thought it was not my school report because I remember having only 100% except once around 50-60% when every other kids also failed, but with the “dark skin” remark, it couldn’t be someone else’s report card. Since I always playing outside, I was darker than every other kids. You will read the rest in my memoir, what the teacher did to the children of the poor.

  6. omg, that’s a horrible measure for scholastic ability!

    That reminds me of my friend Megumi who said she used to help review resumes in Japan, and she would watch perfectly qualified candidates rejected because their required resume photo revealed they weren’t pretty…

    In the states when I was growing up, I was the best drafter in my mechanical drawing class. But my instructor gave me a ‘C’ telling me, “girls never do better than ‘C’ work.

    Hopefully times have changed. But somehow, I think the same prejudices are still there, just hidden better.

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