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The Rose Water Recipe






THERE is an old joke about my dad getting my mom todrink rose water when she was pregnant with me so she could birth a child with the coveted rosy fairness. Asians in general associate beauty and perfection with a fair skin. The fairer you are, the prettier. It's an asset. Men look for fair-skinned wives so they could produce beautiful, fair-skinned offsprings. 

Upon my birth however, my dad became the butt of the joke while my grandma had the last laugh. She lived on for almost 30 years after that to tell and repeat the story of the rose water recipe. Apparently I was the darkest baby in the baby room with the deepest indentation between the lower lip and chin :) 

It's funny how a notion with such frivolous flavour still continues to manipulate the present and future generations on their definition of beauty and self-worth. I can't say it bothers me much because I'm confident in my own chocolate skin. After all beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no? But what annoys or even saddens me is the fact that being a certain colour has become so vital for some that they, especially parents, allow it to interfere with their children' lives. 

Brown girl by the waters.
Obviously with lots of hair now!
There is a little kid I know. She's bright, smart and beautiful and the package comes in a delicious warm chocolate shade. She has so much potential in her at so many things, at so many levels. One of it is swimming. We've spoken about it before and she was all cheered up for it. That evening I brought up the subject to her dad during a casual chat and the feedback I got from him was...well, unbelievable. 

"Swimming is outdoors under the sun,  I'm afraid she'll get dark". 

Oh my. Initially I felt like he'd uttered the F word to me for helping him pick up his laundry! I'm assuming that he was also worried about the body transformation that comes with sports. Perhaps being athletic isn't sexy and even thought to be somewhat masculine. The most of me just went to feel a deep sense of pity for the kid and other kids like her. 

So yeah. I also pity the little girl who is kept inside her home till the sun goes down so she stays pink even when she isn't blushing and the boys who are prescribed whitening creams by their parents so they can be proud of their fair, good looks. 

Limited options when it comes to sports and outdoor activities because their parents / guardians are trying to preserve something here? What they don't realise is that it's much deeper than the skin they're trying so hard to keep bright and spotless. It goes pass the epidermis to affect the morale and options in life, closing so many windows of opportunities and paths to happiness, eventually preventing them to be the best of what they can be. 

On a lighter note, my dad loves me to bits. It didn't matter to him that I came out brown and hairless (apparently I didn't even have brows!), and he trusts me enough to let me be so I'm free to explore and experience the never-ending possibilities of life. 



Comments

  1. I've heard of the "wheatish" complexion being favoured by south Asians, but rosey fairness in that climate would be crazy. Don't they know that many white-skinned people long to tanned and bronze?

    Perhaps humanity will gravitate towards the Brazilian mixed-race look. As Senator Bulworth said: "Everybody just gotta keep fuckin' everybody 'til they're all the same color."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i think, GB, rosy or wheatish, they just want to be light skinned. oh i'm liking senator Bulworth already! lol

      Delete
  2. Oh, so much to say about this. First, I'm interested to hear you describe your skin as chocolate, since it is about the same tan shade as my older son's in the summer. The guy I've been seeing lately, on the other hand - now his skin in what I'd consider chocolate - a deep brown color.

    Secondly, the preference for lighter skin isn't just an Asian phenomenon. It's also true for African-Americans, and black women who are most likely to become models/actresses are often mixed-race and very light-skinned. But you know who doesn't value fair skin? Caucasians. Used to, of course, in the days when women would lighten their skin with lead and such and tanned skin was a sign of being a farmer/outdoor laborer. Then there was a shift and the pale working class toiled in factories while the wealthy leisure class tanned themselves playing tennis and lounging by the pool. Just the other day a patient was telling me his girlfriend was unattractive to him because she is "too pale."

    People are crazy. I wish we'd get to a point where we could celebrate a range of beauty - in color and shape and size.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. hahaha. i don't know how to answer this first bit. well, i can match my skin to a range of chocolate shades. like the face is brighter than say my arms and that's actually without getting out in the sun much. but i love the sun nevertheless despite stupid remarks from some ppl ..'you dont need any more tan!
      for me the sun is soothing and relaxing. the only setback is that i tend to get rashes being out in the sun after a while and i'm prone to uneven skin tone very easily.

      yeah that is true. it is not only an asian phenomenon but it's a bigger phenomenon among asians i think as compared to any other community. whitening therapies and skin lightening products are big in this part of the world. i think it's great to care for the skin but being obsessed with the idea of beauty in this colour-coded way is pretty sad.
      i suppose a little tan adds a lot life to an otherwise pale skin.
      ivory in itself is beautiful too.

      i wish the same too. hope we can get to that point as well :)

      Delete
  3. This post is so interesting Jaya. I'd never heard of that tradition about the rosewater, it's funny that your birth completely debunked that in the end though haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i dont know how my dad got on it too! lol.
      but rosewater makes skin beautiful and it's been used in cosmetics forever.
      hope you're keeping well :)

      Delete
  4. That sucks indeed for her, sad one some people/cultures are built to believe such things passing it on to each generation never ending it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeah Pat. she's a bright little girl and a bit of sports and sun is just going to make her better.

      Delete
  5. I like your article,Jaya.
    Sadly, the highly educated, well read, well traveled,well....etc say things like "She is so pretty and fair" "Just like the father/mother" hahaha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol. typical, isn't it ?
      thanks :)

      Delete
  6. Apparently you were the darkest baby in the baby room and the most beautiful one. Even a blind man can tell, Jaya J. I just don't understand people's fascination with the color of one's skin. It's just a color. Wait, I need to say that again: it's just a color. And I think there's nothing more beautiful that a brown skin, tanned or real. And if tanned, make sure it's not orange :) When I first met Angie, she told me she had the fairest skin in her family, not to show off but to see how I would react. I said, you need a tan, girl ;)

    Have a nice day, Jaya J. I like those shades of yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. a blind man actually did, Blue Man! by touching the face :p
      i've seen a few orange people. they didnt look too bad you know. toned and well-defined muscles under that skin - niceeee!
      so did Angie get a tan then ? :p
      those shades - my ultimate favourite, thanks!

      Delete
  7. I almost forgot: the best place to get a tan is HERE. :))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. bliss or what, ritee???
      :)

      Delete
    2. I spoke with Azra the other day. I told her I was wondering about you.

      Delete
  8. Hahaha .. this post reminded me of the a couple of stories. i guess Asians have alot of those when it comes to skin colour. When i got married.. some people had the nerve to ask me why didnt i pick a lighter skinned guy like thats a criteria!!! Can you believe it!!? I was so furious, but was not surprised. Its sad tho...the ignorance .. I even knows some people who dont like black dogs because the colour of its fur. hahahaha .. how crazy is that!!

    some people will never change :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right babes! Some people will never change. Urgh. I can just imagine it for you and hubby. I'd be and have been furious too.
      I suppose we can just ignore their small minds and get on with our beautiful lives :)

      Delete
  9. Awww, that poor girl! Valuing certain skin colors is just so silly. I wish we could all get over that.

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  10. Jaya. Well firstly you are beautiful and you make me sick ;) The minute I see sun (Which let me tell you IS NOT very often in this green and pleasant land) me and my fair skin are spread-eagled in it's glory demanding a rich brown to COME ON.
    That Father stopping his daughter swimming needs a proper talking to. I wont say what I think because it will make me look vile.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. aww thanks Juliette !! i like a tanned look. it just makes a person glow with health.
      that father ...hmm, i can't talk to him on a lot things cuz i'd be vile too if i decide to just give him a piece of my mind. but i did about the swimming thing for the kid. she's a darl.

      Delete
  11. I've often been chided for having such fair skin. Supposedly it makes me look sickly. One can't win.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. one can't win indeed !
      hope you're well Janie.

      Delete
    2. I am well and pale, as always.

      Delete
  12. Skin colour is important in much of the Asian communities here too Jaya. It's terrible how some siblings will suffer because the one is slightly darker than the other - and I even know Mothers who end up hating their children because they're not "white". Yes, that's the kind of Neanderthals that live here. I'm so over it though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hello Azra!
      that's just terrible isn't ? to hate one's own kid for something like that.
      eeeks.

      Delete
  13. Yeah, superstitions are kind of stupid like that. Like the soy sauce consumption turns your scars darker or something? Ridiculous.

    If I ever have kids, I'm making sure they reject all of those silly ideas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh yeah. ive heard of that soy sauce and scar thing.
      another kid i know went for a minor cosmetic surgery after a little accident on the forehead. after that, the mom stopped giving her food with soy sauce for abit.

      Delete
  14. Oooo, I'm from India and they even have fairness creams for men.. in fact, recently, they came out with a fairness cream for women's nether regions... sometimes when I need a good laugh, I cheer myself up by googling for 'clean and dry intimate wash' :D

    fc*klove

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trust all of that my friend! It's India!
      Cream for nether regions? Do they also have facials for the regions?

      I just follow Malaysian politics for laughs but then I also end up Angry sometimes! Hope you're well :)

      Delete
    2. I'm good Jaya.. glad to be back here :)

      Trust all is well on ur side too :)

      Delete
  15. Fairness creams for men? Well, I guess I need to order a couple of those. I mean.... now that I'm married to an Indian woman ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Lol! You better keep up you husband of an Indian woman.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hahahaha. (Translation: pity me, please.)

    ReplyDelete

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