Monday, December 19, 2005

Early morning ramble

When I went to Thailand this past summer, I bought a bottle of moisturizer. It contained facial whitening ingredients. Hell, everything in Asia seemed to have contained whitening ingredients, from talcum powder to paper masks. And although I understand, as a Chinese person, being light-skinned has historically been linked to social status (for only those forced to toil the fields were darkened by the sun), the commercialization of such an archaic concept feels like a minstrel show in reverse. It's bitterly aggravating.

I, undoubtedly, irritated my relatives with my incessant questioning. "Why would you want to look like you're dead?" I'd say. "What's so great about looking so ghastly pale?" I'd ask my cousin. "Don't you want a woman who looks like she leaves the house once in awhile?" The answer was always an emphatic no.

To want to change the colour of your skin has almost become a necessary evil. To tan or not to tan is brought up as often as to bathe or not to bathe. That is to say, it's hardly ever questioned because it just is. Do women dress for men or do we dress for each other, I commonly ask. The horrendous beauty rituals we typically read in history books have normally been constructed and systematically enforced by women. It's as if once an illusory standard is generated, we have no choice but to perpetuate it. Simone de Beauvoir advocated for female financial independence. Thinking that, by breaking free from the source of our absolute dependence, we might be able to live more contentedly. Yet, somehow, somewhere in the past 30 years, something went wrong. The new-found fortune of the new woman now fuels the industry of desire whether or not she believes it is realistic to her. I hate to sound pro-quelque chose, but being a woman is important to me. Maureen Dowd, during an interview about her book, "Are Men Necessary?", said that Ed Needham, editor-in-chief of Maxim, told her he gets tons of mail from women who want to be in his magazine. And this amuses him because, as he explains it, the airbrushed celebrities featured in it are supposed to be a man's guilty pleasure -- not anyone's idea of a seriously desirable partner. We'll always be bound to this convoluted Catch-22 as long as we're social creatures of the utmost extreme. Conceptual theories of equality are less hindered by biological differences than the games we formulate in order to fuck. And we further complicate matters with each social construct when we demand the usherance of a new conception, intending on displacing the old one. But it just as fast becomes the new status quo once the economy changes directions again.

I'm obviously not making any sense. Morning hunger! You dastardly devil! Better end this before I keep going ...

[*Editor's note: Lily currently has 13 bucks in the bank which incidently signals her return home tomorrow (not that it's the, uh, only reason).]

No comments: