When I was in primary school, my friends called me ‘black’ because of my skin color. “Black” was said instead of “brown”; I guess, their parents didn’t teach them to distinguish between colors very well. Very sad. Half-blood chinese children were proud of their white or pale skin color. Some of them behaved superior to others in the class. As for me, I knew right from the start of my life that I would live with dignity no matter what skin color I was given. I later welcomed a lot of friends of different skin colors. Of course, Cambodia sounds like a country with multi-ethnic groups. There have been pure Cambodians who are half-blood Chinese, Vietnamese and minorities until now. I now can hardly find a Cambodian without Chinese ancestry nowadays.
I was born brown; I have grown up brown and I will surely get old brown and die brown. This is a simple fact to be born brown, white or yellow. But since I have come a long way to this moment, I have tolerated a lot of prejudicial comments from people of the same nationality.
Around 1920s, hundreds of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrated into Cambodia for a better life. They later dorminated most of the businesses while they were known for a race of business wizards. As far as I put in my evaluation, they have so far done a good job as business-people. They are shrewd and quick. So their domination in business is common in the present day and it is even ordinary to find very few Cambodians business owners and a lot of Cambodian workers.
Because I do not give a thought about what people say about my skin color, I have lived in peace. I truly understand that millions of people in other countries have suffered too much due to their natural skin color. How many black people were killed due to their skin? How many people were killed because of their race? I know Cambodia are lagging behind other countries in the world owing to a poor understanding of what exactly is human rights and what human-beings’ needs are.
There has been a social trend in Cambodia that many women, single or married, crave for white skin. They have used many lotions ranging from powder to liquid just to satisfy their ignorant need. They do not realize how much harm those will do to their skin, and how much they lose to discard their skin. They do not know that it is such a gift from God and parents to inherit the divine skin. Many women told me that to have white skin is to show a wealthy status in Cambodian society. I thought, “Oh, so Cambodians have disliked Cambodians themselves and ‘brown’ means dirty or of low status.”
I can only shake my head and accept their situation. Not to mention my sisters do not listen to my suggestion, they even do like other women. Of course, they must not be hated just because of their desire to have white skin. They should be given enough information to make a better decision for their good health/life.
This social trend has affected many women and also men in Cambodian society to define the word ‘beauty’. Women who were born white are satisfied; whereas women who were born brown scramble to their feet and pucker at their brown skin. Very sad. Women in the west enjoy tanned skin while women in Asia enjoy white or pale skin. But both do not know that each of them craves for the skin color the other can be dying for. Funny, eh?
Till these days, not many Cambodians have been taught to tolerate skin colors, I guess. I’m glad there has not been any harsh act against each because I’m white and you’re brown. But that ‘white’ has been intertwined into Cambodia’s mentality; “white” means “of a wealthy status” and “brown” means “of a low status”.
And you people, how do you define beauty? By skin color? Or, by the physical appearance? by attitude? The rest is for you to ponder.