A few weeks back I posted some shots from a project I’ve been working on exploring the Southeast Asian obsession with light skin. While this standard of beauty exists throughout all of Asia, in ethnically diverse Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, it affects people and society much more severely than in more homogenous societies like Korea and Japan. In Southeast Asia the economically and socially empowered urban class has, thanks to ethnic reasons, lighter skin than the disenfranchised, poorer rural class. Thus in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam the standard of beauty serves to reinforce social and economic distinctions which fall upon ethnic lines. The White Project uses photography to discuss this issue. In this project I have Southeast Asian people of a variety of ethnicities, national origins and skin tones paint their skin artificially white and then photograph them in black and white, pushing the standard of beauty to such an extreme that it becomes a mockery of itself. Yesterday I did a third shoot for this project (round one, in Thailand, can be found here, while round two in Cambodia can be found here). Here is a sampling of the results.
(click images for full size lightbox view)