Artwork - Geremy T. Gallenero

Colorblind Society What’s it like to be living with an Ideology of Color-Impaired Vision

All children grow up being over the moon with colors. They use different kinds of colors—may it be red, blue, yellow, green, or violet but they seldom use black and white; simply because their minds become impulsive that those colors do not come in handy when coloring their canvass.


One assumption that several people have vocalized is that dark skin is a problem or an unfortunate condition that should be avoided when possible. Some tend to associate skin color with status, intelligence, or potential. A veritable example would be darker-skinned people are constantly denied opportunities and seen as less educated or generally less because of the color of their skin.

“Kaitum sa imo, daw taga-uma ikaw.” (You’re dark, as if you look like someone who lives in a farm.)

“Itsura mo daw Ati sa bukid.” (You look like an Aeta, living in the mountains.)

These were some of the lines peole would say when they spot someone who has dark colored skin. Akari Deamboy who was a passionate photojournalist, heard those words all her life. As a photographer who captures such wonderful pictures, those mere opinions will never fail to capture her attention.

“Colorism in the Philippines is very horrendous, to the point that the word for “black” people became literally a playground insult, and being called “white” becomes a compliment,” shared Deamboy with the Augustinian. Deamboy even added that some of the major reasons why people are likely to find morena awful to look at is because they tend to perceive that having a dark complexion makes a person dirty and poor. She also discussed about how Filipinos use “Ita/Aeta” and “Negra/Negro” as an insult to call people of darker skin tones, particularly if one is considered poor and getting even darker, they tend to degrade that person further; in some places, being “white” means you don’t work under the sun.

“I’ve seen an advertisement before about GlutaMAX (a skin whitening supplement) saying, Maputi lang, hired na? Unfair ‘di ba?, Wag magalit, mag- GlutaMAX!. It basically tells that you shouldn’t get mad, but instead, you join them,” stated Deamboy.

The pervasiveness and gaslighting of advertisements where Filipinos tend to become obsessive of whitening products is no joke. It somehow equates to raising future generations to despise their own skin tone.

“It’s just sad because it somehow makes us insecure about our complexion and be pressured to whiten it. Also, it’s crazy how this toxic beauty standard implies that you have to change your skin color to be accepted and considered beautiful and that if you’re being bullied or receiving unfair treatment because you’re darker, you have to be whiter. We, Filipinos, shouldn’t normalize this kind of beauty standard,” opined Deamboy.


“A problem such as colorism seems as common as blinking and equally unconscious—just entails how ubiquitous it is among black beauties,” claimed Ruby Jean Vencer who was a registered guidance counselor in a comprehensive high school. She admitted she has always been churning to come up with a reply when asked about her opinion on colorism and discrimination.

“I grew up in the 90’s. 90’s kids would be out of their houses playing right after lunch until sunset. Whenever I met other people, a relative or a family friend would always notice my dark skin. Back then, they stereotyped dark- skinned people as someone who works in the farm,” shared Vencer with the Augustinian.

Vencer then perceived, in her early days, some of the teleseryes would constantly portray the blatant insults on how dark and white skins show what kind of roles they would depict in the tv shows.

“In school, my classmates would say pa-puti-puti ta ah, then, they would laugh at us, dark-skinned. They would also tease us whenever our topic in Sibika at Kultura was about the early settlers in the Philippines. They would tease mga ninuno niyo, to us—not theirs since they are fair-skinned,” added Vencer.

Even during commercial breaks in tv shows, tons of whitening products would be shown—a little subtle of relegation towards Morena beauties for which if one has lighter skin, there would be a “glow” effect otherwise “grayish” for darker skins. It somehow came to Vencer’s mind that many Filipinos have always been in an ambivalent situation—a gray area perhaps.

“It occurred to me at an early age that the concept of beauty was distorted, and unfair since children like me cannot choose our skin color. I used to think that having a lighter skin tone would make life easier, gain more friends, and be free of harsh comments from peers and adults,” said Vencer.


In an artist’s gumption, black absorbs all colors equally and reflects none, thus this only proves that even in the viewpoint of a black crayon, all colors are important to the same degree and level. An absence of hues, equates to suppression of diversity upon colors.

“We need to stop stereotyping beauty. We should wage campaigns against the stigma because as long as being “beautiful” stays a norm that everyone aims to achieve, there will remain a hierarchy that distinguishes the “beautiful” from the “ugly,” and that will always be unfair, illogical, and absolutely pointless,” claimed Deamboy.

This colorism issue is still relevant since there are messages out there telling young people that lighter skin is more attractive. Such signs keep on reminding people that having a lighter skin tone is an ideal from cosmetics brands not producing tones for dark complexion, to more radical messages like skin bleach advertisements. It just becomes one of the many ridiculous beliefs that society promotes.

“As a counselor, a social media user, a family member, and a friend, I believe that shaping positive self-image is one of the things that we should advocate in our programs at school, in our online platforms, and in our day-to-day interactions with others,” asserted Vencer. Beauty standards are just an imaginative level that the cruelty of society has created. Whether it’d be a snowflake, an ocean wave, or a fireworks display— they all look different, but all are more than the sum of its parts; they have a beauty that comes from within.

“I believe that we are our own beauty standard. We have to expand our viewpoint about beauty because it takes many various forms. We are beautiful in our own way. Do not let society put you under strain. Flaunt your beautiful skin. Remember that the most important thing is to be healthy and happy because that leads to inner beauty,” concluded Deamboy.

Nowadays, the online world has been constantly rallying against racial discrimination and colorism. Such industries are starting to answer. Will this be enough to put an end to the stigma? It will be a healing process, but it will not happen overnight.

To see colors, one needs to have light. It bounces off on someone’s eyes, and reflects. Albeit, for someone who has a color-impaired vision—there’s no such thing as white light strikes nor hues, just brightness and saturation. Sometimes, being colorblind isn’t bad at all.

Published: April 25, 2022