Manners & Misdemeanors

Beauty Comes in Shades and Variations, Says the Truly Rich Lady

Perception is hard to shake off, especially when you are bombarded with images of the mestiza, the chinita, the East Asian, and the Caucasian.
ILLUSTRATOR ALYSSE ASILO
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Hello, people of the world, fellow Truly Rich Ladies and other beings who have to work!

I am writing this from a secret summer place, and I feel like I am shouting.

AM I SHOUTING? I FEEL LIKE I AM. BECAUSE I AM CURRENTLY ON A MOTORBOAT, ON MY WAY TO A REMOTE AND THEREFORE MORE EXPENSIVE ISLAND. AND I REALLY CAN NOT HEAR ANYONE? WHAT? WHAAAT?

Okay. I am back. Thank you Lord! I survived the boat ride, which I will mark down in the comment card of this resort as unsatisfactory! I felt unsafe, I got wet, and I was shouting. I never shout.

But I guess this is what you have to deal with when you’re on an island vacation. I should not expect the most basic level of existence, which is luxury, because I am in the middle of nowhere!

Another thing that I just have to live with is my cousin, who is prone to making strange mouth noises. Example: As we were waiting to board the (unsafe) boat, she suddenly screamed at us because, “Ayayay! You will get black like a coconut. Get under an umbrella!”

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First, I don’t know what kind of grocer she frequents, because coconuts are not black, but brown. Also, I am wearing a generous layer of broad spectrum sunscreen. And, more important, I don’t mind getting color on my skin, because it is beautiful.

Brown, yellow, black, a little red, a little orange (but hopefully not purple)—these are all beautiful.

But I did not think like this before. I remember this horrible experience I had as a Truly Rich Teen. I was in line for cotillion practice with my friends, when one of the mothers, Tita Mina, observed quite loudly how her daughters looked so tall, lithe, and WHITE next to… me!

Well, I’m sorry if I had a little fun under the sun! I’m sorry I don’t look like a translucent flower! I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Tita Mina! I felt so bad after that I called in sick the next day.

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Today, I am a strong and grown-up woman who does not like small boats. When I hear these colorist comments, I don’t feel bad at all. What I do feel is mad, because we are living in the future (you can now order a date from a phone!) and yet people cling to the idea that white is right.

Many people still believe that, If you are a shade fairer than the next person, you will get the job, the man, or just a random smile from a (creepy) stranger. If you are not—as my cousin, who is as white and blank as a sheet of paper, says—“black like a coconut,” you will be happier!

Women, the world over, have been trying to change this idea for so many years, but perception is hard to shake off, especially when you are bombarded with images of the mestiza, the chinita, the East Asian, and the Caucasian and also have to deal with Tita Mina and my cousin, both of whom ruin the day with their fair-skinned ideals.

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One is telling you to be white: Drain all pigment from your skin until you look like death! The other insists that you must be poor, unhappy, and unemployable because you are a coconut.

But do you know what happens when you mix white and black or brown together? You get a latte, which is delicious. You also get Catriona Gray (Filipino and Australian), Pia Wurtzbach (Filipino and German), and Phoebe Cates (Filipino-Chinese-Russian—needs verification).

And if you are looking for ideals of women of deeper coloration, there is Lupita Nyong’o, Rihanna, and from the Philippines, Angel Aquino and Tweetie de Leon, all women who prove that beauty comes in shades and variations.

I am also more hopeful about a shift in attitudes, because younger people subscribe to a broader definition of what’s beautiful today. My staff tells me this is called being woke, which rhymes with yolk but, it is cooler, they say. I think of being woke this way: Their eyes are wide open and they choose to see all the colors of the rainbow.

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Back to my vacation—and the boat. It is a cloudless day and the sun feels good on my face. My cousin is making noises again. She insists that I go back inside and wear a shirt with long sleeves, pants that go down to the ankles, and a hat with those funny flaps that cover the entire face because “…you don’t want turn brown.”

I consider the suggestion, and quickly decide being sun-kissed is totally appropriate for summer. I put my hand on her back and nudge her playfully toward the waters. Oops. She fell.

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About The Author
C.C. Coo
The Truly Rich Lady
C.C. Coo—also known as Town&Country’s Truly Rich Lady—is not a professional seeker of leisure as many people wrongly assume, for she has a real-life occupation: a SHE-EO of Important (Sub)Company of an Empire, for which she works very hard to make sure that the people in her care are not left wanting. She believes that manners are utterly important: “If society is like one of those costume jewelry pieces worn by Jackie O or Diana, manners would be the glue that keeps the veneer of a most beautiful thing from falling apart,” she says.
View Other Articles From C.C.
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