Beautiful White: An Illumination of Asian Skin-Whitening Culture

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2013-04

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Abstract

This paper uses Taiwanese and Chinese skin-whitening beauty products as a lens through which to study how globalization and the Japanese post-colonial context has influenced the nuanced East and West hybridization of skin-whitening beauty practices in primarily Culturally Chinese cosmopolitan cities such as Taipei, Taiwan. Applying Koichi Iwabuchi’s notion of transculturation, I examine the exchanges between producers of skin-whitening cosmetics and their consumers. In particular, I analyze Taiwanese and Chinese fashion and beauty magazines to examine how ads for skin-whitening cosmetics align with the local, historical context of East Asia and appeal to members of the “Culturally Chinese” diaspora. Multinational cosmetic brands advertise their skin-whitening product lines to the “Culturally Chinese” consumer market in multiple ways. I investigate some common skin-whitening marketing motifs to see how marketers renegotiate common symbols and their conventionally signified meanings to create new sign circuits that influence female consumers and redefine Culturally Chinese ideals of beauty.

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honors thesis, 2013, winner of Distinction Award in Visual & Media Studies

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Citation

Pan, Elysia (2013). Beautiful White: An Illumination of Asian Skin-Whitening Culture. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/7559.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.