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These Instagram Accounts Are All About Celebrating Your Morena Skin

"This is a new age of brown Filipino, we’ll decide what’s beautiful for ourselves.”
These Instagram Accounts Are All About Celebrating Your Morena Skin
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/morenathelabel
"This is a new age of brown Filipino, we’ll decide what’s beautiful for ourselves.”

In light of the controversial GlutaMax ad that seems to have presented morenas to be inferior to their lighter-skinned counterparts, social media has never been more alight with discussions on the prejudice that brown-skinned Filipinos are facing on a daily basis, which is rooted from years of molded belief that, somehow, white will always be better. It's a muddled mindset repeatedly reinforced by the media, especially when it comes to TV ads and local shows where, for some reason, the darker-skinned character is always written to be stereotypically poor and constantly facing some form of abuse.

With this kind of continued portrayal of morenas, it's clear that curt outbursts of indignant passion over ads like that of GlutaMax's billboard can only do so much if we simply let the issue die down with time, allowing the very same type of bias to thrive in the long-run. If anything, as response to a display of outright prejudice, maybe it's best to learn to turn our anger into a collective celebration of the message we're trying to vie for: that dark skin is undeniably beautiful as well.

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In line with this, we rounded up three online platforms that continue to celebrate morena pride and hope to continue to to do so even when the socia media clamor has died down. Below, the founders of Morena the Label, The Morena Movement, and Moreno Morena share with us how their brands preach and embody the true beauty of morena skin.

Morena the Label

What is Morena the Label all about? 

“Morena the Label is a clothing line that celebrates sun-kissed skin. But more than that, what we really stand for are empowerment, choice, and acceptance. Morena the Label exists as a reminder of our ability to rise above insecurities rooted in our society's problematic beauty standards.”

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How does your brand embody the celebration of morena skin? 

“We sell tees with simple but bold statements that showcase confidence in our color. As Bianca Gonzalez said, 'Hindi kami kawawa.' We CAN and we DO love our skin color. What better way to let the world know that than by having those words on our chest? I like my tan, tita!”

What's your advice to morenos/morenas who are still given a hard time for their skin color? 

“Tune out the noise. Focus on the progress. More and more morenos and morenas are embracing their skin color, and you should, too. You owe it to yourself to be happy and confident in the skin you're in.”

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In light of the recent GlutaMAX ad controversy, what do you think Flipinos should do to move forward? 

“We Filipinos should actively work on removing the stigma by starting with ourselves and our daily interactions. It's still so common to hear people joke about skin color: name-calling, comparisons, 'hindi ka makikita sa dilim' jokes. Be more vocal and stand up for yourself and for others when this happens. It might take a while, but the more we talk about these things, the more change can be felt.”

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The Morena Movement

What is The Morena Movement all about?

"The Morena Movement is a platform to celebrate 'every woman of every color.' From the get-go, I envisioned it to be inclusive and not only pertaining to skin of color, or in this case brown, but also anyone who identifies with celebrating being a woman of beauty and strength. 

"As in the manifesto I co-wrote with friends and supporters of this advocacy, it is to recognize the woman who is 'on her way to create her path and to define her own terms,' by her own path it simply means to say, she is not perfect but she is on her constant journey of self-discovery and one that is not bound by social constructs. 

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"One of the questions we ask those we feature is 'when did you realize your own beauty?' Or 'when did you realize your strength'" And these that truly get them to think and look back on a big or small life experience. Once they start opening up I find that it forms a bond between us because the answer could be so personal and universal at the same time. I guess it's similar to how we easily relate to posts of Humans of New York. This is in part of how 'we aim to inspire through the narratives of our everyday she-roes (from heroes), highlighting their beauty, strength, and substance.' 

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"With this question we've gotten so many different answers, from owning their stretch marks to overcoming having PCOS, to being a single mom, etc. 

"We come from a place of love and acceptance, our manifesto continues, because our tone is never from a victim mode or spiteful angle. It is never an 'us against the world' like how some attempts provoke us to be, like the recent campaign of Glutamax with UnfairDiba; why do they seem to want morenas, mestizas, or even chinitas to go against each other? We are all beautiful. Hence, we exist to 'expand one's own understanding of beauty and success,' that for as long as it is limited or limiting, then our mission continues 'to pass this vision towards a more vibrant world.'"

How does your brand embody the celebration of morena skin?

“The Morena Movement embodies the celebration of morena skin by featuring women or anyone who identifies as female and their unique narratives of self-love, and acceptance, and those who relate to being morena. That's right, we aim to be cross-racial and cross-gender; in the meantime we find it vital to start and grow in the Philippines where the 'problem' still lies. 

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"I have a Korean-American friend who is tanned and can't wait to be featured. We've also had a Peruvian whom I met in one of my visits in Paris who was more than happy to already be interviewed. 

"I found that 'morena' was subjective, and it's truly in the eyes of the beholder. Personally I realized that one relates to other's complexion depending on their own concept of light and shade, fair and dark. For example, my cousin who is a quarter Dutch said she thought she was morena, when all this time I thought she was maputi (because I'm darker than her, but her concept of white is also whiter than her). 

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"When we started, we got questions like 'is it just for morenas?' and we said no, it's anyone at all who identifies being one too. It's a mindset. 

"I also learned that there's a disparity with the resonance with the brand. Younger Filipina Gen-Zs seem to be more 'woke' about this, whereas millennials like me who grew up bombarded by more whitening skin commercials seem to still have childhood memories relating to dark skin comments, like 'Oh huwag kang magpaaraw, iitim ka'. I'ts not even for skincare, but it's about getting dark. So as a kayumanggi pre-teen or teen already struggling with certain insecurities or questions, it doesn't help to have these comments or to have media dictating to you what beauty is. I personally thought it'd gotten better (for media awareness) until the Glutamax and SkinWhite ads came out. For as long as these brands exist with the wrong messaging, we find we are relevant, even though we wouldn't want to be in that sense."

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What's your advice to morenos/morenas who are still given a hard time for their skin color?

“My advice is: your skin, own it. It's not about black, brown or white and which is more beautiful. It's yours, and so it is (beautiful). It's cliche but beauty truly comes from within. 

"In my case, it had to be other people (friends and family who loved me and who wanted to have the same complexion as me) to make me look into myself and appreciate my own self and beauty. I wish I had a platform or medium when I was younger where I could read about people who just truly loved themselves for who they were. Or it could have been a way different story if in the ‘90s I had a morena or brown-version Barbie. But hey, it was also my own personal journey, and I wouldn't be the person I am today without those experiences. 

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"Another advice is, look beyond skin. It is part of who we are but it's not everything about us. 

"And third, we have to stay proud of who we are. Actually part of what I had to be sensitive about was how my friends from Latin America questioned the movement too, because already to them morena/moreno is one who is beautiful (and hot). There's also another Instagram account that I follow called @unapologeticallybrown. So colorism is very much alive but the question is, what do we do about it and do we let it affect us?"

In light of the recent GlutaMAX ad controversy, what do you think Flipinos should do to move forward?

“In light of the Glutamax campaign, Filipinos should think about their intentions for doing what they do and for buying what they buy. I have nothing against those who want to be white (or brown for that matter), but just to know the intention for wanting to be so. Is it because you just want to be white for being white and you feel beautiful with that or is it because subconsciously a brand like Glutamax made you think this is the concept of beauty?"

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Moreno Morena

What is Moreno Morena all about?

“Moreno Morena is a project that was made to appreciate dark skin. It was made to portray dark skin in the way fair skin has always been: glorious and desirable. It’s different from what other brands do because it isn’t a one-off campaign or movement where, for a certain amount of time, dark-skinned people are given the spotlight.”

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How does your brand embody the celebration of morena skin?

“As a platform where morenos/morenas can showcase themselves, their work, art, and stories, I think Moreno Morena is well on its way in becoming a landmark of dark-skinned Filipino representation. We try to present our work as editorial, sometimes in ways that show nothing more than our models’ photos, void of any agenda if one didn’t know any better. I think it’s in these ways, portraying dark skin in the context of local beauty culture and portraying it aesthetically, that we’re able to successfully celebrate morena skin.”

What's your advice to morenos/morenas who are still given a hard time for their skin color?

"Two things: Try to know your pain. Dig deep and try to find the reasons why you feel a certain about yourself. Look inside at the things you’ve learned and the experiences you’ve had that led you to have the biases towards skin color that you currently have. Also do the same for things on the outside like your peers and especially social media. Then decide for yourself if you’ll continue to just react to all those things or if you’ll learn to defy them and make your own rules, rules that will benefit and uplift you.

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“Find your idols. Start following people on Instagram who look like you. It may seem very shallow but it’s a big deal to see 'yourself' on your feed, ads, billboards, movies, TV, etc. If all your life you grew up seeing someone else as the protagonist/standard of beauty, it’s about time for you to choose who those protagonists/standard of beauty get to be.”

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In light of the recent GlutaMAX ad controversy, what do you think Filipinos should do to move forward?

“A friend of mine recently used the term 'decolonize your mind' and I think that speaks volumes. Filipinos can do the same things I mentioned earlier: some introspection and picking and choosing their own standards of beauty. I really encourage Filipinos to stop and think about why they hold certain biases when it comes to dark skin and realize that most of it is shallow (maybe even stupid). This is a new age of brown Filipino, we’ll decide what’s beautiful for ourselves.”

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