Lighter skin 'trending in China'

Lighter skin

The latest trend that is sweeping China these days among women seeking brighter skin is lighter creams, it has been revealed.

Yang Mingxuan, nicknamed Aki, follows a careful morning routine starting her day by applying four creams specially designed to lighten her skin

"In China there is an old saying, that fairness covers one hundred faults," CBS News quoted her as saying.

Then she has a special diet of foods that she believes have skin-lightening abilities – milk and Chinese yams.

"If you eat dark, like soy sauce, you will get dark," she said. Also, she keeps well-hidden from the sun when she's outside.

"It shows that a woman takes good care of her skin, and more people will be jealous of her," Aki said.

A trend that is one of the newest as well as oldest fashion statements in China.

The new part is that TV advertising is making sales of skin lightening products a 2 billion dollars a year business in China, and still growing, in a country where a focus on beauty is one of the benefits of new-found wealth, and where many Chinese women think fairer skin makes it easier to get everything from a better job to a better boyfriend.

The old part goes back to 700 BC, as depicted in the 2006 film 'The Banquet' - a time when rich women at the Imperial court used ground-up pearls as a white face powder to give them that light complexion.

According to Hong Kong professor Frank Dikotter who studies Chinese culture, then as well as now fashion is driven by vanity.

"Those who work outside, till the fields, of course tend to acquire a very dark complexion, whereas those inside - nobles, aristocracy - highly value white skin as a result, or lighter skin," Dikotter said.

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