I used to get teased for being a ‘Morena’.
In the Philippines, ‘Morena’ means…
brown color, brown-skin (‘kayumanggi’)
coffee coloured (‘kulay-kape’)
It seems that in Asia, well, the Philippines for sure because I grew up there… light skin is the only skin type which is considered ‘beautiful’. I spent many years of my childhood and early teens upset about being a morena.
Growing up, I didn’t know what colours to wear. People often told me…
‘Don’t wear black clothes, you’ll look darker…’
‘Don’t wear red clothes, you’ll look darker…’
‘Don’t wear white clothes, you’ll look darker…’
They pretty much mentioned every colour you could think of so I felt like anything I chose to wear looked bad. I hated clothes shopping and I didn’t see any point in buying clothes because I believed that nothing will ever look good on me. With all the skin whitening products and commercials on TV and magazines, I didn’t feel like I had a role model to look up to so that I could tell myself that having brown skin is beautiful too. I prepared myself for the constant teasing and I had to learn how to deal with the hurtful comments I received.
Imagine this, a ten year old girl thinking she’s destined for a life of sadness, rejection and judgement…
That girl was me…
Brown skin is a natural Filipino skin tone but somehow, many Filipinos still have this deep-seated belief, that ‘Lighter Skin is Better… ‘. So, I avoided playing outside especially at noon because I didn’t want to get too dark and I spent a lot of my childhood days indoors, singing, reading and writing songs instead.
I had a fear of wearing white clothes and for many years, I believed that white clothes made me look too tanned, too brown…too ugly.
One scorching hot afternoon, when I was around eleven years old, not knowing which colour top to wear, I cried and sat by my wardrobe feeling sorry for myself. My brother came to the rescue and told me…
‘Why don’t you wear a white top? White clothes will suit you…’
I didn’t believe him back then but I do now. I also don’t avoid the sunshine anymore.
You may be wondering about how I got to this point?
I guess, I just got fed up of feeling sorry for myself. When I was around sixteen years old, I slowly started to learn the true value of self-acceptance and I began to think more positively. When I accepted myself and loved myself from the inside, Suddenly, no one teased me for my skin colour anymore and I started to appreciate my natural skin tone. I knew that my brown skin helps to protect me from sunburns so I always remind myself to be grateful for that too. I started to enjoy sunbathing and people complimented me and told me how nice my skin glowed. It could be said that when people start to see the beauty in us, we begin to see it ourselves but it is very important to always remember that we must never rely and look for love and appreciation from other people. There is beauty in all of us, no matter what our skin colour is. It doesn’t matter how dark or light you are; skin colour doesn’t define who we are.
My beautiful mother taught me that beauty isn’t just about what we look like on the outside. She said that the beauty we hold inside our hearts is far more important. Knowing this, I focused more on improving myself as a human being and spent less time thinking about my outer appearance. I still love beauty products, put makeup on and dress up but I no longer feel the pressure to look good for other people. I want to feel and look good for me because at the end of the day, we should always do whatever makes us feel comfortable. I also learned that kindness is the most beautiful gift we can give ourselves and others. I started to treat myself with a little bit more compassion and I had to stop beating myself up for the things I had no control over. Slowly, I noticed my outlook on life changing. I didn’t care if I was labelled as too brown, too dark or too ugly. I was more concerned about what I think about myself. I asked myself questions like, Am I hopeful?, Am I happy, Am I loving?
Slowly, I weaned myself off of my fears and I did this by doing the things I feared the most.
I started with wearing white clothes.
WHITE ON WHITE FOR THE SUMMER
White on white combinations are my favourite go-to outfits in the summer. Not only do they show off tanned skin, but they keep us cool when it’s hot. I think that white is a colour anyone can wear. I love lace tops and dresses too, not just because of their intricate designs but also because they are so feminine and sheer enough to wear during the hot summer months without showing off too much skin. We don’t have to save white lace for our wedding day. White lace looks great even on casual summer days. WoW looks are fresh, clean and vibrant without being over the top.
What I also love about wearing WoW combinations is that they are easy to dress up or down with just a few accessories and you can wear minimalist jewellery or some colourful statement jewellery pieces too. In these photos, I am wearing a white lace top and denim shorts from Topshop. The hat I’m wearing is from Warehouse and the diamante sandals I’m wearing are from Office. The links for these items are no longer available so I attached below some alternative items you may purchase if you wish to achieve the same look.
I used to get teased for my dark knees and elbows. Hyper pigmentation is not something anyone of us have any control over. For a long time, I was afraid to wear skirts and I used to hide my dark knees but now, I’m more focused on getting them more tanned as a treat after many months of wearing trousers in the winter.
I see the beauty in all skin tones and I see the beauty in everything, even the imperfections.
HEALTHY SUMMER SKIN
Living in England where the sun doesn’t shine much, I get so excited when the sun’s out. As we all get lighter when we don’t get some much needed sunshine, I look forward to sunbathing to get my natural skin colour back. I make sure that I use the appropriate skin protection to prevent my face and body from getting sun spots and any other skin conditions caused by over exposure to harmful UV rays. I recommend using a hydrating moisturiser under any foundation or tinted moisturiser and to always wear sun hats or sunglasses to protect your face, especially around the delicate eye areas. I also recommend using body lotions with SPF 30 or above especially when you plan on being out in the sun for long periods of time.
I’m wearing Caudalie’s Radiance Moisturiser in Broad Spectrum with SPF 20 (27.99- Space NK) and Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation in Natural Tan with SPF 15 (£34- bobbibrown.co.uk)
I also use the Hawaiian Tropic Satin Protection Lotion with SPF 30 (£6.00- superdrug.com) all over my body. It’s not too greasy and it contains Vitamins C and E. It makes my skin so soft and smooth and the tropical scent smells amazing.
For my lips, I use Lanolips Lip Balm in Rhubarb with SPF 30 (£8.16- beautyexpert.com). This is one of my favorite lip balms. It gives a subtle pink shine to your lips which helps enhance your natural lip colour. It also softens and moisturises the lips, plus, it has SPF 30 which helps protect them.
Looking back now, I can’t help but feel sad about the years I wasted and spent judging myself because of other people’s opinions… no child, in fact, no one should ever have to feel ashamed about their natural appearance.
The most important thing is ‘self-acceptance’ because humbly loving yourself as you are is the best kind of love and gift you can give yourself.
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