Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

A whitening product ad from Thailand
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.

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.

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.

12 thoughts on “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!”

  1. There is no logic in these crazy judgements. I’m often surprised at the level of prejudice Cambodians can have against each other. Next time someone calls your skin dark, you could politely say

    ‘Hmmm… do you think I’m as dark as President Obama?’

  2. That’s funny when people always look at each other just a glance and prejudge everything over the look. Most of times, same like you, I just only shake my head and say nothing. I just couldn’t understand why people like having fun by discriminating all the different ones. They forget that we all bleed the same blood.

    Some girls, who are blessed with dark skin, insist to whiten their skin, like you mention, to be in a high-status appearance. Yeah, needless to say, it’s all about being in beauty appeal paying no attention to human being.

    Personally, what I care is about human being, something inside your soul. Just having your own value, be generous, caring, open-minded, having a good heart… That deserves everything.

    Girls, remember that you perfectly fit in the skin you’re in. Your beauty is in the skin you’re in.

    Btw, my skin tone is getting darker and mum is always nagging about my neglect. But why do I need to care. I was not born to be a beauty chick. lolz

    Nila, I appreciate this topic of yours. It’s explained a lot about your inner-self. 😀

  3. Living in Norway, there is still a lot of racism. Though I believe it has become more of a silent type.

    It is very true that here in the west, or at least parts of it (including Norway) tanned skin is very much desired.
    And something that bothers me even more is that some starve themselves to achieve the ideal “shape” and “weight”.
    While our country overflows of food and nutrition (and some refuse it in the name of beauty) other country’s citizens starve as a result of poverty, natural disasters etc.

    Looking at this from a different view, I believe we are biologically driven to make ourselves look attractive to attract a mate. And therefore also search for this.
    But, we could debate how far we can stretch that theory when we look at today’s society’s values of beauty.
    One could say that we are only biologically driven to groom ourselves to attract a mate, so would that mean that as soon as a female plucked a flower and put it in her hair we instantly hopped of our “natural” behavioral pattern?

  4. Yeah! I am myself was born brown too but not too dark.I never be distinguished directly(but sometime I can see trough their behavour).I am a girl that’s trying to do everything tocrave my skin too.I think it’s not funny. It’s a social problem. I admit that I am also feel a little….well unhappy with those african…but only when they behave badly….but everybody not perfect….I tell myself don’t jude people all the same when one among them make mistake. sometime when an uneducat person do something wrong it’s not mean all uneducate people are the same….I thought distinguish is come from uneduaction…..Sometime in our writting we write so well for our good mind but in true life may be we have made a mistake but we didn’t know….
    I really appreciate your topic. and hope to see more new.good done.

  5. Hi k.nila;
    Good article indeed. From start you put your readers attention to a case of racism through the eyes of other people re people’s color, then you took them through the scene of Alice in wonderland – changing their skin color adn finally back to personal choice and contenment about its own color.

    Racism is every where in every corner of the globe, no matter this or that country is a democratic country or not.

  6. Hi John (Jinja),

    that’s a very wise mocking question to say to the person back? hee.hee.. Thanks. Right, there’s no logic at all…It’s time Cambodians stopped hurting each other but look beyond what they see.

    Hi Panharath,

    A lot of people now seem to have fun doing just that. To bleach their skin for a high-status appearance now is so common among young Cambmodian girls. I’m so glad you, though young, think much better and wiser. 😀

    Hi Christin,

    Thank you for the different perspective.Much appreciated.
    Looking at this from a different view, I believe we are biologically driven to make ourselves look attractive to attract a mate. And therefore also search for this.

    Of course, we understand that society changes. Nothing remains without change; but at the same time, human beings are in control. Nature has it way, maybe…I understand that this is a natural code that women try to make themselves attractive to men… but things that can destroy them should be discussed. And that the media or other relevant partners should feel responsible for their social well-beings. I am against all things that badly affect women… because I hope that if a man loves you, he doesn’t love how white you are.. but love you for who you really are.

    Hi Mac.C,
    Sometime in our writting we write so well for our good mind but in true life may be we have made a mistake but we didn’t know….
    I really appreciate your topic. and hope to see more new.good done.

    Thanks, Mac.C, for your comment. yes, history shows that discrimination is bad.. a lot of good stuff has been written to convince people to love each other no matter others are white, yellow or black… but yes, I agree, in practice there’s a little different.. because still misunderstanding is there.. and we are there to make them understand again…:)

    Hi Bok,

    Thanks very much for your comment.. Hey, I happened to see ‘Alice in Wonderland’ somewhere.. is it a movie? 😀 Yes, I think everyone should be content the way they are..i know, there may be alittle change… but not too much change that destroys ur own identity.. that little chane i said refers to combing hair or dressing a bit if u like.. but going into extreme just to satisfy other people isn’t a thoughtful act for both men and women.

    Hi Khmer4u, thank you for reading.

    Thank you all again!!


  7. You know the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” never rang more true. It seems like people always want what they don’t have. Growing up, my best friend’s family (they are Cambodian-a culture I have grown to truly love), especially her grandma, would always comment on the beauty of my pale Irish white skin. Of course, my pale caucasian friends were always off to the tanning salon and the tan ones were always telling me how white I was, as if that was a bad thing! Personally, I always found that interesting. Now with the skin cancer risk and the fact that I have slathered sunscreen on my skin all of my life out of necessity to consider….I will gladly take what I have been given, and wish others would as well. It’s a shame we can’t all just look deeper than the skin level! Are these differences things that truly matter, anyway? I don’t think so.

  8. I will gladly take what I have been given, and wish others would as well. It’s a shame we can’t all just look deeper than the skin level! Are these differences things that truly matter, anyway?

    Hi Peggy,

    I’m glad you are one of the people who enjoy what is given to us…because there’s a good chance we won’t be too overwhelmed by people’s remarks about our skin… Yes, there’s a strong contrast.. people here always joke about my brown skin and there about your white skin.. we suffer prejudice people want to tell us that we are not one of them or at least we should be one of them…

    But we are one of the people… and I’m hoping people are becoming aware of this…


  9. Hi Kounila, I have been reading through your posts and just wanted to say that you have by far the most beautiful soul. I honestly wish I was like you. 🙂
    Good luck in your life and your future. I wish all the blessings in the world on you!
    ~Rachael from Oregon, USA.

  10. Hi Rachael from Oregon,

    Nice to see you here. Thanks very much for visiting my blog and giving me your comment and compliment. I appreciate it. But so far I myself haven’t been so confident if I have that soul. What if I said I wish I were like you too? :).. we wish to be like others– but sometimes, we should wish to be like ourselves, or who we are.:)

    Good luck to your life and future too, Rachael.

    Thanks for your blessing.


  11. That’s one of the many reasons why Khmer Rouge came to power.

    Khmer Rouge promised Social Equality.

    Social status and skin colour sometimes mixed together.

    So nek kror/nek srae (poor or farmers) = dark brown or brown skin = poor and uneducated/dumb

    And most Khmer sot are naturally born with brown/dark brown skin.

    So most of those Khmers are looked down by some pure Chinese or Vietnamese or Half Chinese/Vietnamese Khmer. “khmer sot are dumb”

    It’s quite ironic to see these Cambodia people are discriminated against in their own country, srok khmer.

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