Hi, I'm Megan. I am a writer, a photographer and an international public health professional. After a year-long research project in Indonesia, I'm back in my hometown, Chicago. It's great to see white snow again, but I miss the fresh coconuts that machete-slinging street vendors would chop open and sell to me for a mere 50 cents. Currently looking for ways, other than hibernating in a hat and gloves under my comforter, to stay warm. Please contact me at mmryan1@gmail.com to pitch your ideas. (FYI - I already tried hot potatos in my pockets, an old Irish tradition)

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I realized that in my last post "Obsessed with White" I may have made it seem like all Indonesians want whiter skin, as if this desire were somehow more deeply embedded in Indonesian society than, say, other desires in other places, such as the desire to be thin in America. I still think this mindset(whiteness is better/more beautiful) is widespread, but I don't think that all Indonesians care about the shade of their skin, nor do I think that all Indonesians believe people with whiter skin are more attractive, or superior.

I do think that this idea prevails because of images in the media (that use airbrushing to perfect a model's skin), because of years of colonial rule by the Dutch and because some people think dark skin is a symbol of "working in the field" and by default also a symbol of the working class, as opposed to the elite. Some of my friends in Indonesia might say they think white skin is more beautiful, or that thy wish their skin were lighter, but would also say that a person's skin color cannot measure his or her worth.

However, this is not necessarily representative of Indonesia because most my friends are well-educated and kind. There are huge gaps in education and different families teach their children different things about diversity. I think the idea that white is inherently better is an idea that prevails among people who don't have the opportunity to learn about, or for whatever reason, refuse to understand the horrible ramifications of racism on people throughout history.

Whew. I apologize if this seems unnecessary. Some people cautioned me that my post might not be taken well, so I want to clarify that my last post was not meant to generalize all Indonesians. Here is a shout out of love to all my Indonesian friends, mwah!

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