Exoticizing the Other

So here's one of the things that really stuck out within just the first few days of my arrival here in the Philippines. People are obsessed with having white skin.

On my first day here, I went to the local grocery store to buy myself some of the native chicheria (snacks) that I've so badly missed. I found myself walking along the beauty aisle and almost everything there had labels that said things like "skin whitener" or "make your skin lighter!". Later on that day, I was playing with my baby nephew who told me I should be white and not brown. I was a bit taken aback by this. Back in Canada, I prided myself on having darker skin because for me, it made my Filipino heritage more prominent and that's something I've always been proud of. But here, to be white is to be beautiful. All the major celebrities here seem to be competing against each other as to who can have fairer skin. Every major billboard and every T.V. commercial features a woman with ridiculously white skin, it's almost blinding.

Meanwhile, in North America, there's this obsession with tanning and being darker than you actually are. Come summer time, every one is out on the beach or at the park "working on their tan". We've got tanning beds, tanning spray, lotion that'll give you that "tanned glow". People long to go somewhere warm during the cold winter months to give themselves some "color". It's the total opposite. Tanned skin is what we long for on that side of the world...

And so I'm left here wondering...why do we exoticize "the Other" so much and where in the world did we pick up these conceptions of beauty?