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The misconception of beauty and power; a personal life experience with particular significance


nataliasadhwani 1 / 2  
Jan 11, 2023   #1

a personal life experience that has had particular significance for you



Describe a personal life experience that has had particular significance for you and highlight the reason(s) it was significant, whether it had an impact on others, and any insights or understandings you gained from it. (800 word maximum)

For over 400 years, The Philippines was ruled by foreign powers like Spain, the United States, and even Japan. Despite the country declaring its independence over a hundred years ago, centuries of outside rule have shaped beauty standards in the Philippines to prize fair skin. It's a legacy that's very much alive today and attributes to the misconception of beauty and power.

As a Filipino-Indian in the Philippines, I never really felt a complete sense of belonging. The grocery stores I went to sold bleaching face soap, and the ads on TV promoted skin-whitening medications. Although I embraced my culture wholeheartedly, a childhood filled with stares and comments from people like "I wish I was whiter", "I don't want to get dark", or even "you are as dark as the night sky" made me deprecate myself. My 7-year-old self brushed these things off and didn't do much about it, but bit by bit, it started to tear down my appreciation for my skin color, my judgment of others, and how I perceived skin tone.

Although I was aware of racism and the many forms it came in, it was not until I was 13 that I came to the realization that I was in fact not experiencing racial discrimination but rather was a victim of a culture built on discriminating beauty standards. Unlike what you typically hear about racial discrimination, this was not about my race, being half Filipino, or how I identified myself, but simply about the meaning behind the color of my skin. Through uprising celebrities and influencers, Filipinos have had difficulties straying away from attributing fair skin tones to fame, opportunities, and power. This has built a culture that belittles everyone - Filipinos or not, with dark skin and classifies them, their beauty, capabilities, and power as less.

Moving to Malaysia allowed me to immerse myself in a multicultural environment. Being in a country surrounded by people with ethnic backgrounds from India and China, allowed me to live in a colorful culture, where skin tone was just another factor that made each person special. For the first time, I was not getting the stares or seeing whitening products promoted on TV and billboards. I was in an inclusive international school living in a diverse community. Being immersed in an environment where I heard various languages, ate different foods, and interacted with people from all over the world, motivated me to develop unique cultural understandings and reminded me how amazing each culture, skin tone, and race is. The constraints of the culture that used to surround me no longer dictated my judgment of the world. I didn't have to fit into a mold or conform to what society deemed beautiful and worth something, but rather, embrace who I am and value what my distinctive passions and culture can bring to the world.

Since then, whether it was the podcasts I created to raise awareness on world events, organizations I started that promoted student voice, The Women's History Month initiative I started that showcased women of all colors, or my TedTalk highlighting the importance of inclusive education, my work throughout high school advocated for diversity and inclusivity. The hardships I faced no longer defined me. There was nothing I could not do or achieve because of my skin color. Knowing the dangers of a constricting culture like the one I've lived in motivated me to contribute to building a culture within my community that prioritizes diversity and equality among all.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 13,562 4442  
Jan 11, 2023   #2
This is most certainly a personal experienced focused on learning self Iove and the true value of a person beyond the superficial. It shows an enlightened person with regards to oneself. It touches on a required aspect of the prompt but does not really tie into the other aspect as to how your experience affected others.

The essay comes across more as you portraying your complaints as a part of personal learning. You did not use your experiences to visibly help others suffering or involved in the same situation. That is the shortcoming of this essay. It lacks a reference to true community involvement in reference to individual and group betterment, which is a college character consideration. This would give the screener an idea as to the helpful and selfless nature of your character.

Try to better portray these aspects in this essay. Balance the "me" with "us".
OP nataliasadhwani 1 / 2  
Jan 12, 2023   #3
@Holt
Thank you so much! Here is my revised essay. Do you think I've ended it clearly?

For over 400 years, The Philippines was ruled by foreign powers like Spain, the United States, and even Japan. Despite the country declaring its independence over a hundred years ago, centuries of outside rule have shaped beauty standards in the Philippines to prize fair skin. It's a legacy that's very much alive today and attributes to the misconception of beauty and power.

As a Filipino-Indian in the Philippines, I never really felt a complete sense of belonging. The grocery stores I went to sold bleaching face soap, and the ads on TV promoted skin-whitening medications. Although I embraced my culture wholeheartedly, the stares and comments from people like "I wish I was whiter", "I don't want to get dark", or even "you are as dark as the night sky" made me deprecate myself. My 7-year-old self brushed these things off and didn't do much about it, but bit by bit, it started to tear down my appreciation for my skin color, my judgment of others, and how I perceived skin tone.

Although I was aware of racism and the many forms it came in, it was not until I was 13 that I came to the realization that I was in fact not experiencing racial discrimination but rather was a victim of a culture built on discriminating beauty standards. Unlike what you typically hear about racial discrimination, this was not about my race, being half Filipino, or how I identified myself, but simply about the meaning behind the color of my skin. Through uprising celebrities and influencers, Filipinos have had difficulties straying away from attributing fair skin tones to fame, opportunities, and power. This has built a culture that belittles everyone - Filipinos or not, with dark skin and classifies them, their beauty, capabilities, and power as less.

Moving to Malaysia allowed me to immerse myself in a multicultural environment. Being in a country surrounded by people with ethnic backgrounds from India and China, allowed me to live in a colorful culture, where skin tone was just another factor that made each person special. For the first time, I was not getting the stares or seeing whitening products promoted on TV and billboards. Being immersed in a diverse community where I heard various languages, ate different foods, and interacted with people from all over the world, motivated me to develop unique cultural understandings and reminded me how amazing each culture, skin tone, and race is. The constraints of the culture that used to surround me no longer dictated my judgment of the world. I didn't have to fit into a mold or conform to what society deemed beautiful and worth something, but rather, embrace who I am and value what my distinctive passions and culture can bring to the world.

Since then, through the podcasts I created to raise awareness on world events, organizations I started that promoted student voice, or my TedTalk highlighting the importance of inclusive education, I used the various academic and extracurricular opportunities around me to advocate for inclusivity. Knowing the dangers of a constricting culture like the one I've lived in motivated me to contribute to building a culture within my community that prioritizes diversity and equality among all.

One of the ways I chose to redirect my prior hardships and utilize it to make a difference involved my school community. As a pioneer student in a brand new school, there were certain aspects of student life I had the opportunity to take part in creating. With a vision to make my school a positive, meaningful place for all, I founded the Junior Leadership Team (JLT), a student-led organization that builds the culture of our school, fosters school spirit, and keeps our community engaged and united. Though one of my sole motivators was to be able to cultivate school traditions and spirit through events, a part of me was taking on this leadership role to inspire fellow young women who may doubt themselves based on discriminating stereotypes. I used this chance to break the narrative and show that being a leader wasn't about age, rank, gender, race, or color, but instead, one's drive, motivation, and effort which is put into working towards shared goals. The Junior Leadership Team was built on the idea that all students have the opportunity to lead while being able to exchange and learn unique skills that each member has to offer.

I've come to realize, I've not only been on this journey with my self acceptance but also with my perception of society. We are so focused on achieving success that we often forget about the process of claiming it. Through immersing myself in organizations that run on a wide diversity of people, it has become clear to me that the uniqueness of each individual is what fits together to achieve success.


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