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Mestiza

"No, you're the pink power ranger, and I'm the yellow one." she said.

I didn't understand why I couldn't be the yellow power ranger. I didn't understand why the other Asian-American kids in my class had jet black hair and were various shades of tan and brown, and I was on the opposite side of the color spectrum. I didn't understand, but I loved it. I loved being different. Looking back, I still feel so ashamed that my younger self thought it was cool to pass as half-white.

As I got older, I had this back and forth inner dialogue for years. Confusion of whether I should stay white or get tan. I began to embrace Western conceptions of beauty—maybe a little too much. I'd spend hours and hours laying out, risking skin cancer and bad sun burns to become tan. Some family members would say, "Ang ganda ganda ng mestizacomplexion mo. Why are you ruining it by tanning all day?" And I'd just roll my eyes and continue reading my glossy magazines filled with picture-perfect, sun-kissed models.

I wish that I could tell my younger self that there is no such thing as having "good skin."

Good skin stems from years of social stratification.

Good skin stems from the egregious era of colonialism.

Good skin stems from horrendous acts of slavery.

Good skin stems from privilege and power.


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Ashley Mariano is a content creator based out of Oakland, CA. She grew up in one of the most populous Filipino-American communities in the Bay Area and continues to uplift and support the community that shaped her.


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