Filipino School Textbook Says Western Features Make a Person ‘More Beautiful’

A page from a Filipino school textbook is making the rounds on local social media for its blatant glorification of Western features over the typical Filipino looks.

Shared by Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, the post features a page from a government-approved elementary textbook praising a mother’s beauty for having features “unlike most Filipinos”.

The image showed the page with a story about family members:

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“Unlike most Filipinos, she has curly hair that makes her more beautiful. She looks like a mestiza (people of mixed Filipino and any foreign ancestry) with her pointed nose and white fair skin.”

“This is the homework of my friend’s grandchild. This is both hilarious and sad, and should be brought to DepEd’s attention,” the mayor wrote in the caption of the image.

Mayor Osmeña has tagged the Facebook page of Department of Education, but the agency has yet to respond or make a statement on the issue.

Netizens immediately pointed out what makes the depiction of beauty very problematic, with many expressing frustrations:

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“WTF! They are basically teaching kids not to love their heritage,” one netizen commented. “Telling them that because they don’t have curly hair, fair skin and pointed nose that they are less beautiful!”

“Soon these children will hate their own race,” lamented a Facebook user. “Discrimination in your own backyard tsk.

“This is so bad. This is why our people don’t see the beauty in each other,” another one noted. “They criticize those for being darker skinned and those who look different. We have so many whitening products, hair straightening products, everything and anything to change how Filipinos would normally look. It’s so sad that we pick on each other for that.”

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“Now, it’s sad to think that a pure Filipina have new ways of identifying them as what shown above,” commented another. ”Looks like racism begins in school now.”

Based on the DepEd’s own guidelines for textbooks, the content of the books issued to students must “respect racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in our society. Avoid bias and stereotypes in reference to any individual or groups and avoid inaccurate, unnecessary or inappropriate portrayal of or reference to racial/ethnic or cultural customs, symbols observances, festivals, dress, names or language.”

But while many have found this is indeed problematic, the narrow ideal of beauty is a prevalent societal norm in the Philippines. Many Filipinos’ obsession to lighter skin tones, ridged noses, and mestizo features is often attributed to the country being hundreds of years under the Spanish rule. The preference for Western beauty standards is also heavily promoted in local mainstream media, where many Filipino celebrities who possess the mestizo features are chosen for leads while the flat-nosed and the dark-skinned are often portrayed as the “ugly” comic relief.

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