I wish the world could be a happier place. I wish people could just be content with who they are and where they come from. I am not saying that people should quit chasing their dreams or stop becoming who they want to be. I am not referring to the people who want bigger and better things in life or the people who want to travel and see the world. I am one of those people, and this post hardly has anything to do with that. No, I am talking about people being unhappy with their God-given bodies.

I bring this up because I’ve noticed one thing in particular: the color of our skin.

(SIDE NOTE) A white person with blue eyes is very rare here in the Philippines, so people stare at me a lot. Sometimes I don’t even think they realize they’re doing it. Back home, my skin is considered more on the tan side, but here I have literally been called “Snow White” (a nickname I never thought I would receive). These people are a different race, so their skin is naturally considerably darker than mine. I think it’s beautiful, and unfortunately, a lot of them seem unhappy with it.

I can honestly say that I never thought I would go into grocery store and see “whitening” lotion for one’s body. And after watching a bit of Filipino television, I realized that (just like in America), companies are having local celebrities advertise creams and body washes that alter the natural color of one’s skin. People here would love to have the pale, sunless pigment that is a Caucasian, but people back home spend their money to achieve the exact opposite! What would these people think if they came to the States and realized that most of us desire to be darker? Would they be stunned? Disappointed? Would they laugh like I did when I first made the observation? It makes me wonder, what else am I missing?

I can think of at least a dozen products sold in the States to darken the color of our epidermis, and I will admit to thoughtlessly buying them. I was slightly unhappy with myself when I realized that I am guilty of something that absolutely baffles me. But after talking to my mom, I realized that I am not the only one. It really got me thinking: why?

Each and every one of us, all around the world, has been blessed with such a unique combination of features and quirks. As cliché as it may sound, we are all beautiful. In my opinion, it is the many shades of hair, eyes and skin that make this world so fascinatingly gorgeous. So WHY mess with something that wonderful?

Well I have come to the inconvenient conclusion that it’s an unfortunate human desire to want what you cannot have, or to want what everyone else wants.

The unattainable is the attractive.

The grass seems greener on the other side.

In this case, desiring a certain shade of skin, whether it is dark or light, is the social norm. “Everyone says it’s pretty, so it must be pretty.” Correct? Not quite.

That can be someone’s personal opinion, but just because it is considered to be pretty by the world, does not mean you need to consider it that way, or that you need to strive to be that way.

Now I suppose I should clarify my words a little further, as to not offend anyone, unless I already have. I am not an advocate to rid the world of things people use to express themselves: tattoos, hair dye, makeup, etc. It is your body and you can do what you want to it.

I am simply wishing for your sake, and the sake of future generations, that you contend against the poisons of modern social expectations. Change your body image if you must, but resist the change this tenacious world can have on your spirit. Do not think you are not beautiful because you are different. Be proud of who you are and where you come from. The sooner the world learns that it’s okay to be yourself, the better off we are all going to be.

Written by Taryn Hewlett. Taryn Hewlett is an intern at Mentors International; she spent six weeks living in the Philippines in Cebu, observing Mentors’ work there.

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