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Peach Girl, Vol. 1

I'm a little late here, but I've only just now read the first volume of the Peach Girl manga, published by TokyoPop. In many ways, this shoujo manga is fairly typical high school stuff. Momo's had a thing for Toji ever since junior high, but obnoxious Kiley looks to interfere--not to mention Momo's prima donna "friend" Sae. Momo spends a lot of time worrying that Toji won't ever like her--& here's where Peach Girl departs from the norm--because her skin's too dark.

Whoa. Apparently, in Momo's world, tan girls are tramps. Ivory-skinned Sae is the feminine ideal. Momo, believing Toji would never date a dark girl, haunts drugstores searching for the latest miracle skin creams (like SPF 80 sunblock, which she finds in the first volume).

The mangaka points out in a sidebar that Momo's skin trauma is based on her own adolescence, & that Momo will never successfully lighten her skin & has to love what's inside her. Very promising, because this obsession with being as white as possible horrifies me. It's reminiscent of Asian American women who get plastic surgery so their eyes look more "Western." (Clearly this isn't merely an Asian preoccupation: among people of color in the US it's common to hear childhood stories of one sibling being praised over another for having "good"--straighter, more typically Caucasian--hair &/or lighter skin.)

I guess I'm just waiting to see how this unfolds in Momo's life. Right now, as it's so easy to do in adolescence, her self-image hinges heavily on Toji's approval. He tells her that he doesn't like beach bunnies who only seek to show off a tan, but that he isn't prejudiced against naturally dark girls. Yay! However, I'd hate to see Momo eventually love herself in spite of her skin, for her to tolerate it as one might a disfiguring scar, & for her to be pathetically grateful to Toji for his affection for a person "marred" by tan skin.

I’ll admit it--I want Momo to subvert the

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