Looking beyond someone complexion

I was born and raised in Indonesia. I’m so proud of where I come from and of my country. Indonesia consists of over 13,000 islands. Every province and region has their own language, culture, food and ethnicity. We are so diverse and yet we are one! Unity in diversity – that’s Indonesian slogan. I cannot be more proud of my country that is so rich is culture and natural resources.

On one little negative side, Indonesian have this stereo type that dark skin is ugly or low class and so on…..  Being the only one in my family who has dark skin * (more story on this at the end of this post), I have a lot of insecurity issues growing up. When the stereo type is so strong, you started to believe that you are ugly and start doubting everything you are. I’m grateful for my parents who  always raised my spirit and never stop convinced me that I’m beautiful regardless or as my mom called it my complexion is exotic. Hahaha I still got a crack at it each time I remember it. Makes me just love my parents more and more!

Little that I know, apparently the stereotype is common for most Asian country. That’s why there are so many whitening skin products back in Asia.  I really wish people more concern about other beauty than just appearance. I wish people back home can see through someone complexion.

My mom was a model, and I was surrounded by people in the modeling and movies industry in Jakarta. It’s not uncommon for mother and daughter to pose together but that never happen to us – honestly not that I wanted it though – but my sister receive a lot of offers to pose with my mom well you guess it, she have MUCH lighter complexion than me and personally I think she’s very beautiful too.

When I live in Australia, believe it or not, few modeling agency actually give me summer job. Once as one of the girls on billboard ad for Benetton. United Colors of Benetton – It’s United Colors so I don’t think much about how I get the gig.

Then, I remember the time when I was just arriving in America, I remember meeting a lot of new people and making new friends. On that memory, one person stood the most – a stranger but so friendly and has asked me this question “You have an amazing skin color, where did you get your tan?”  Based on the enthusiasm, this person wasn’t joking. It’s a genuine question.  “I would love to have your skin!”

And it’s start from there…

That time wasn’t the last I heard of that comment. A lot of people have been telling me how I have a great complexion. I can tell you how amazing it is to get compliment on something that you used to be ashamed of.

That comment truly brought up something inside me. I really wish other girls with dark complexion in my country – or in any other country – can hear what I just heard! We are not ugly! There are people out there who wish to have something that we thought was so shameful.

Complexion aside: I am proud of myself and what I had accomplished and what I’ve become. I owed that to my parents and I can tell you that I had accomplished more than some friends & family that used to “tease” me on my skin color. So “beauty” doesn’t guarantee your future… Hmm.. who knew? 🙂

As most of you know, my husband is Hmong, so naturally he has a light skin colors. When we’re pregnant it was mention once and twice by my husband family wishing that our kids will get his complexion instead of mine. Well… unfortunately when it comes to my kids I’m already biased, to me they are the most beautiful children in the world! Now I understand how my parents feel and think of me.

*Little story… I was born and raised in Indonesia. I went to college in Sydney, Australia and now I somehow landed here in US. Talking about journey of life. Indonesia just like any other Asian country is full of superstitious. One of them is when you’re pregnant you better not speak ill or bad about other or your child will look like them. Sound silly… well according to family member, while pregnant with me, my Mom always call one of the servant’s son a nick name of “dark skin” nothing bad intended, that is his nick name that other’s call him as well, but since my mom was pregnant at the time, people always remind her not to do so or her child will be born with dark skin… and here I am… her first born daughter came with yep.. a dark skin. I’m the only one in the family with dark skin.

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7 responses

  1. Sendie – I love this post and your honesty within it. Though we have never met, I have seen your photos and you are beautiful. That being said, even if I had never seen a photo of you, I see your heart in your writing and that, my new friend, is truly beautiful. You should be proud and I’m glad you recognize the beauty that is you. Hugs, Diane

  2. I wrote a post similar to this a while ago. I guess if we’re Asian and dark-skinned, we go through this all the time.

    Growing up, I had tanned skin. I was always ridiculed for it. A year after my first child was born, she got tanned after a summer of swimming and playing outside. My SIL told my child how ugly she was because she was dark. I sternly told her that my child is not ugly simply just because her skin is dark.

    We shouldn’t be judges by the color of our skin, but, sadly, it’s expected when you’re Asian.

    • Growing up with tan skin, only having two girls in Hmong family, we seems to be sharing a life story! That’s probably one of the reason I can connect with your writing right away. I truly wish this perception will go away. There are more in a person than just their appearence. Beauty is only skin deep!

  3. Sendie-Lou, thank you for bringing up the issue about judging a person based on his or her complexion. I may never have met or seen you but I believe you are beautiful and lovely the way you are, inside and outside. I too come from an Asian society where it prides on fair skin and consider having tanned or dark skin as low class and ugly 😦

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