In this article, we will examine the cultural differences between societies that promote tanned skin and those that encourage the use of skin whitening products. Of course, traditions stem from ancient beliefs, plus, of course, the very different climates that do contribute to the beliefs, and let’s begin to taking a look at Northern Europe.
The UK & Northern European Nations
The first thing to consider is the climate, and in the northern part of Europe, the sun is absent for much of the year, which makes people want to stay out in the sun when it finally does arrive. Another reason that western people like to have tanned skin is that it implies the person can afford to take foreign holidays, plus the fact that tanned skin looks a lot healthier than pale skin. The jet set would spend the winter months in the South of France, where the sun still shines in the winter, and then there’s the Caribbean, which is another hotspot for the rich and famous in the European winter.
Most of these countries are very hot all year round, and in countries like Malaysia and Thailand, there are companies that focus on brightening cream manufacturing (called โรงงาน ผลิต ครีม หน้า ใสin Thai)on a large scale to keep up with the increasing demand for skin whitening products. Obviously, in a tropical climate, manual workers would spend most of their time outside, which results in rapid tanning of the skin, as melanin is naturally produced by the body to change the colour of the skin. Those who send their time indoors in the air-conditioning tend to have paler skin, and there lies the basis of the trend for pale skin in Asia.
Wearing Protective Clothing
It is not unusual to see rice field workers toiling in extreme heat, while wearing long sleeves, gloves and even balaclavas in an effort to keep their skin from going dark. When out and about in Asian countries, you will notice that the locals will find any form of shade, rather than exposing themselves to the sun, and when they see westerners sunbathing, they cannot believe that a person would do that.
Such deep-rooted social beliefs are very difficult to change, and with the media actively promoting tanned skin in Europe and white skin in Asia, it doesn’t seem there will be a change any time soon. In London, for example, there are tanning salons everywhere, as people wish to become darker, while in Bangkok, for example, every other shop contains skin whitening products.
Both sunbathing and using skin whitening products can be harmful, with many western adults who have contracted skin cancer due to their continued exposure to strong sunlight and some skin whitening products contain mercury, which is very harmful. When looking to purchase skin whitening products you should always look carefully at the ingredients to ensure that there are no harmful chemicals used when making the product.
It does seem strange that different cultures can have such opposing ideas of what looks healthy, but when you look into both cultures, you can understand why these beliefs have emerged.