"Your skin has gotten darker in the sun already, no? You want face lightening treatment done? I can do it."
We were in a beauty parlor in a smaller town when I heard these words addressed to me. Instantly, I felt the white-hot sting of embarrassment bubbling up inside me. I immediately blamed myself for not taking better care of my skin. I have never consciously bought into the stereotypes about skin color, but my reaction was there nonetheless. The implicit comparison to my fair-skinned, half white and half Filipino friend had found me lacking. For a moment, I felt caught in my own, admittedly-darker skin.