The image “http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/china/clothing/pictures/tangyinming.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I have often often seen on the web, especially on minority sites (particularly black American) comments accusing East Asians of wanting to be white because they favor light skin in their women or eyes with double lids.

The latest example is this:

I saw this today posted on Booker Rising, a site I regularly post on, owned by a person named Shay, who I admire, but sometimes she lets some of her personal hangups eat away at her ability to reason (which is usually vast). My response to her comments and the original writer of the post, John Hope Bryant:

I lived in Shanghai, China in 1999, and also in Tokyo, Japan from 2001-2002. While in Japan I managed to visit Taiwan and South Korea too.

South Koreans, like Japanese, and Chinese have had a white skin fetish for their women that preexisted any Western European contact.

You can see this reflected in Tang Dynasty China which was roughly the same time as the later part of the Western Roman Empire. There were envoys that were exchanged, but for most Chinese had never seen a European.

http://library.thinkquest.org/C005742/tang%20-%20zhou%20fang%201.jpg

There are some East Asian women naturally as pale as in the link (my sister in law is, the younger one), but most are not. Typical make up was used and in later centuries, Geisha, in Japan, also pained their faces white, as it was considered beautiful.

Geisha go back a long time before any Dutch or Portuguese contact with Japan, which would be the initial sustained European contact in the mid-16th century:

http://www.danhagerman.com/images/Pseudo%20Geisha.jpg

This is true in Korea as well:

http://www.askasia.org/images/teachers/display/670.jpg

The explanation I have heard is that the upper classes did not do physical labor and stayed in doors so they were lighter, many Asians are naturally pale but unlike many Europeans they do not burn easily, but tan darker (yellowish-brown), so being dark became a sign of being low class.

This goes back to at least the time of Confucius in China (over 2,000 years, around the 6th century BCE)…maybe longer, but that is based on the art I have seen. It is likely more ancient.

So sorry, no it is not about white people.

As far as “big eyes”…

Koreans do this surgery a lot, Japanese are probably the second most, followed distantly by the less affluent Chinese. Also on average, Chinese probably have the highest frequency of natural double lids anyway.

Typical in East Asian large eyed women were considered attractive historically in China (not sure about Korea, and not so in Japan) there is a famous Chinese poem from hundreds of years ago about the “Grape Eyed Girl” and how beautiful her large black eyes were, which I am trying to find translated into English.

To be specific the eye thing is not about “big eyes” as we would think in the West but actually double and single lid.

http://lreflection.wordpress.com/2006/08/22/double-eyelids-vs-single-eyelids/

As this link shows, 50% of Chinese are born naturally with double lids, and about 20% of Japanese and Koreans:

http://eyemd.wordpress.com/2007/02/02/are-double-eyelids-inherited-genetically/

As for average skin color:

Typical Japanese women are about this color:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/04/asia_pac_tokyo_views_on_masako_and_marriage/img/3.jpg

My wife is slightly lighter, but close enough, she has never used skin lightener. Her make up does have a sun screen component though, as with most make up in Japan.

Korean women are about like this:

http://kati.tiuhti.net/matkaraportti/pics/Koreans.jpg

Northern Chinese tend to be paler like Gong Li:

http://www.sonypictures.com/classics/emperorandassassin/stillsclips/scenes_001_2.jpg

Southern Chinese are more admixed with South East Asia (if you read their history Northern Vietnam was part of China for 1,000 years and there was gene flow back and forth) the people tend to be shorter, larger eyed, and darker. Genetic test show this cline in China from North to South, Southern Chinese grouping with Southeast Asians and Northern Chinese grouping with Northeast Asians and Mongolians, which is fairly intuitive.

http://www.pecunning.com/asialanddiaries/Resources/glitterwig1.jpeg

For men skin color doesn’t seem to matter much as darker skin is often considered “manly” especially in Japan, where you can see the male actors are usually tan. I am not sure about Korea though, as I see quite a few fair skin male pop stars and actors, something you do not see often in China or Japan. Women are uniformly light, similar to this:

http://english.kbs.co.kr/ICSFiles/artimage/2005/12/20/c_ent_nws/woo_l.jpg

The skin dimorphism between men and women in the media is not unusual at all, although it is a Japanese actor and I believe Korean actress, the skin color difference is common on TV in East Asia.

A few years ago in Japan it was popular for Japanese to dye their hair brown.

Some black American woman, in Japan at the same time I was, told me “they just want to be white”.

She did not know that most Japanese kids and a high percentage of Korean kids have brown hair that turn black when they grow older.

For the Japanese they thought it was cute to look like “kids” especially for the girls., which makes sense, in almost every society a woman with a youthful appearance is prized. It has nothing really to do with whites, but black people (and other Americans) project their own “white/racial issues” on other cultures they don’t understand. My sister in laws both had brown hair and my wife still has brown highlights…it is not unusual however most black Americans or white Americans don’t know that. This is similar to how blond hair is seen as useful among whites, mainly because blond hair is common among white Northern European children, and usually turns darker as they get older.

Look at his hair:

http://www1.istockphoto.com/ file…happy_child.jpg

Before people project there Western values and racial hangups on people, they should actually learn about the culture and history of the people. I’m not saying there has been NO Western influence in East Asia, there has, but the extent is often overexaggerated due to ignorance. I even here Asian Americans (who often know little about their ancestors home country) repeat this nonsense. It is sad.

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