Should we be whitening or tanning?

I'm a blogger talking about Korean products most of the time, one of the main aspects of Asian cosmetics and skincare is whitening and brightening chemicals. One of the main problems I face living in Britain is the debate between whitening and tanning. In Britain it's almost unheard of to whiten your skin, tanning is so central and even when I was planning this post and watching whitening documentaries, tanning commercials appeared on YouTube.
In the West we're flooded with tanning instructions, we can only be beautiful if we've got a "healthy tan". In the East it's the opposite. That's the simple break down anyway. But how healthy are these methods? Which do I opt for and which side is right?
Unfortunately neither side is right, stay in the sun too long you're likely to develop skin diseases such as skin cancer...and stay out of it too long you'll be developing vitamin D deficiency pretty soon.
I'm not going to claim that I know the answer to any of these methods, all I want to do in this post is spark some discussion between both sides. Please stay civil and don't bash anyone, none of us really have a definite answer - just opinions!

How healthy are they?

Let's face it. Only the extreme methods pose real risks. Tanning beds and bleaching creams are probably the biggest offenders. Whereas gradual tanning sprays and instant tans are usually pretty safe options, tanning oils are usually a no-no but most people are moving away from oils. Being someone who prefers whitening over tanning I'll admit I'm biased towards finding the faults of tanning compared to whitening products and I'm finding it much easier to demonstrate the faults of those methods.

I managed to find this from one of my spa blogs that I never posted...
I guess I'm pretty pale aren't I? xD

Hey Asia, having fun whitening?

I can't speak for India and their whitening culture. But the Indian definition of whitening compared to China and Korea's definition is very different. Extremely. China and Korea take the stance of whitening as brightening, more as a form of evening out the skin tone and creating flawless milky skin. The skin doesn't go any lighter than the natural colour. This form I don't have any problems with. I'm fine with products such as My Beauty Diary's White Truffle Fantastic Whitening Mask or Skin Food's Broccoli Whitening Ampoule (both products I actually used today...xD). Although they use the word "whitening" it's not in the same context as India. 
India appear to focus more on the actual action of altering the skin colour, this I do have a problem with. The men and women using these creams are insecure about their skin colour and use the creams as a means of achieving a successful career, love life and confidence. The word "whitening" really does mean whitening. They want to completely alter the colour of their skin. Although I'll admit I do find the women who use the whitening creams more beautiful on magazine covers, there's so many dangers associated with these methods that it really does just put me off. I've watched a number of documentaries covering India's perspective on whitening - mainly because I don't have much experience with this form! - and it does worry me. Not as much the actual actions themselves but their reasons. I'm totally fine with the whole "whitening because that's what rich people did historically" almost every culture seems to hold a similar view to this. Britain and Europe used to use this reasoning, Asia still do. However in a number of documentaries, some of the women interviewed blamed colonialism as the cause of their whitening concerns. They whitened their skin to look like the British and European colonisers in history. This form of idolisation is worrying. Now I'm British and I'm admitting that we as a nation weren't all that great to I honestly can't see where this coming from... but I'll leave the whole colonial thing out of it!

Here's an example of a whitening mask! This one is by My Beauty Diary.

Criticism Time!

And this is the part where I get angry...personally I don't care what you do. Just take care of your skin and look after yourself. If you're pale like me then embrace that and feel free to use whitening/brightening techniques to even out your skin tone. If you're tanned then embrace that! Go for it~ make yourself as golden brown as you can!
We're born with a colour that suits us right? Don't get your skin whitened like Michael Jackson and I'm fine with you!
But the issue comes up when people have a problem with whitening masks and sun creams and everything. Recently - and back when I was doing my skin whitening series as well - I've been faced with a lot of criticism. Once I'd even walked passed the sun care aisle in a drugstore - where the self-tanners are also kept - and someone picked up one of the gradual tanners and handed to me. Just said "Think you need this love" and walked off. Wow. Thanks. This is the 21st Century? But still we've got issues like this occurring? Sure, in this case it's my choice to stay pale...but what would have happened if it wasn't? What if I was insecure or had a medical condition? I'm comfortable with my colour and hey! I'm not the "milky skinned" blogger for no reason right? There's a reason why I was happy to call myself "milk" even in my blog name! I like myself like this and therefore tanners seem a little irrelevant from my point of view!

Why do you think it's your place to judge me on my skin colour? Just because I'm white doesn't mean it's okay to criticise me. I don't comment on people's tans or anything so don't feel like you've got a right to judge and criticise me on my pale skin. I personally love it.

But at the same time...I'm comfortable with my skin now and regardless of what the world says, I'm staying this colour. My worry these days isn't anymore about myself, it's for girls younger than me. To all of those young pale (or tanned in countries like China, Korea and India) girls who are in their teenage years and insecure...who perhaps can't handle the criticism because they're not yet comfortable in their own skin.
I'll address you guys now. 
To all of you who are whitening or tanning in a country that isn't supporting you? Hang in there guys. It'll be okay! Eventually you'll learn to ignore them. Love yourself because until you love yourself, no one else can right? Stay strong and protect your skin. If you're whitening, remember you still need to go outside and get your vitamins! If you're tanning please remember to apply some sun cream - just apply a lower SPF...please don't leave the house without any! I love you guys and hang in there okay?

I do want to stress the importance of encouraging and supporting the younger generations, although I'm obviously still a younger generation myself, I really want to support those even younger than myself. This issue can only be addressed by starting from the bottom. The older generations are excused because they've grown up with this judgement and it's honestly too late for most of them!

Tanners, are you wearing SPF?

That's right! I went there! How many of you sit and sunbathe and don't apply SPF "because you want to tan" I'm not going to tell you about all the awful things that is going to happen if you don't....let's just say... let's not risk it! Please go out with at least SPF 15 on. It's low sure, but at least you've got something on! Cancer will be a lower risk if you put your sun cream on properly! It takes 5 minutes, so just go for it guys.
Plus...whilst we're on topic, if you're going to tan~ we all know how awful tanning beds are these days! So keep out.

I'm not going to pretend I know much about tanning. Other than the fact I've been force fed it for 18 years and I will for another 18 more years. Britain loves tanning. We live in a country that probably has about 10 days of decent sun, so I can understand that we all want what we don't have. It's pretty much impossible to get the level of tan that Americans get just from staying in Britain - especially if you're Scottish ;D. 
I think I'll leave tanning there...mainly because it's just turning into a rant. 

Someone else who really appreciates whitening. Kate. Please don't kill me now xD
...Actually she probably didn't even realise this photo existed...
(This is from the SkinFood review you'll be seeing pretty soon!)

My opinion?

Well you're probably sick of my opinion now! But all I'm going to add is. LOVE YOURSELF. Don't tan because you're insecure. Don't whiten because you're insecure. You're your own biggest critic. If you don't feel comfortable in your own skin - literally - then we're not going to get anywhere. At risk of sounding like one of those adverts...please just embrace who you are and although I'm not going to tell you not to improve yourself...remember you're enhancing not faking.

Do you tan or whiten? 

I'd love to hear all of your opinions on the subject because this is a topic that I know we've all got an opinion on! Do you follow the advice of your society or are they criticising you? 
Do you think we should criticise others colours and preferences?

Have a great day, and I know these sorts of topics can get heavy at times...but let's stay safe, enjoy the sun and remember love yourself and respect others! ♥